9 April 2011
Cunningham on attack
A vastly improved Perth-Bayswater first grade showed they could mix it with the big boys with a memorable, last-minute 19-17 win over Kalamunda at Hartfield on Saturday.
There were still too many errors and penalties but a couple of periods of fierce attack, led by a belligerent black pack, took the game away from the Bulls at key times to claim the Paul Trophy.
Perth-Bayswater led after half time but Kalamunda dominated much of the second spell and looked in charge at 17-12 with time running out. But Perth-Bayswater hammered the home team's line in the dying stages, prop Laione Mulikihaamea again proving the weapon of choice, finishing a series of punishing rucks with a desperate try in the last play of the day.
A draw would have been a fair result but flyhalf Damon Cunningham calmly landed a difficult, angled conversion from 35 metres out to steal the game and promote the team to second on the competition table.
Kalamunda dominated early territory but errors and solid Perth-Bayswater defence kept the Bulls scoreless. Perth blew a couple of early chances but stayed on attack for French centre Thomas Trautman to miss a 40 metre penalty shot after 15 minutes.
The Force's Alfi Maafi making inroads
Kalamunda broke loose with the help of a couple of penalties after 25 minutes and were set to score with a slashing back line attack but dropped the ball short of the line. Instead, they kicked an easy penalty for offside to take a 3-0 lead.
Perth mixed quick back line attack with smart passes back into the forwards around the ruck, and a slippery run by Trautman set up a good attacking position but the Bulls turned over and the chance was lost.
The territory was even as the half wound down, Kalamunda caught a couple of times for holding on but Perth struggling for continuity, when Kalamunda intercepted a lazy pass from a lineout and sprinted 40 metres for a soft try under the bar. The sitter conversion was a formality and the Bulls shot to a 10-0 lead.
Perth opened the second spell in the best possible fashion when wing Brendan Anderson nabbed a loose Bulls backline pass running the ball back from their tryline, and forced his way over the line in the tackle. Trautman's conversion hit the posts but Perth-Bayswater were back in it 10-5 after three minutes.
Three minutes later black was back on attack with a penalty kick down the sideline, and the forwards rucked up with power and composure where Mulikihaamea reached out to slam the ball down over the line. Cunningham slotted the angled conversion and a re-energised Perth team grabbed the lead 12-10.
But once again penalties put Kalamunda back on attack and after 15 minutes the Bulls backs broke through weak tackling to score beside the posts. The conversion followed and the home side regained their lead 17-12.
Kalamunda maintained possession until losing a player to the bin 23 minutes in but Perth quickly turned over. Their next possession was lost over the sideline with poor passing and the demons of last week returned, the team letting the opposition make all the play.
With the lineout in erratic form and Kalamunda making inroads out wide from a continuous stream of possession, Perth had an uphill battle, failing to use the stiff breeze at their backs and trying to run the ball back into play with little result.
But Perth wasn't done and worked back downfield to hammer Kala's line in the dying minutes. A string of penalties helped black maintain the pressure and the forwards broke Bulls hearts with a thumping try on the bell.
Perth-Bayswater enjoyed the services of Western Force player Alfi Maafi at fullback and although he was a handful for the opposition on a couple of occasions, he was just one of the team.
Perth-Bayswater seconds also impressed with an emphatic 27-17 win over a strong Kalamunda second grade. Seconds led 13-10 with two tries and a penalty goal at half time and went ahead with two penalties in the second half to lead 19-10. Kalamunda came back to score a converted try, drawing close at 19-17, but Perth-Bayswater dominated play in the later stages to score a try and land a final penalty goal for the winning score. The game finished with 14 a side as both teams lost players to the sin bin but it had no influence on the outcome. Tries were scored by lock Luke Vella Vedova, hooker Adam Grant and colt lock James Eliasehewsky, while handy young fullback Dylan Johnson kicked the points.
Fabulous fourths had a bye, allowing better pursuit of their favourite team activity, drinking.
Under 20s also had a bye this week in an increasingly odd competition.
The Under 18 team defeated Mandurah 24-5 at Oakmont Ave. More details soon.