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STORM DAMAGE AT MELVILLE

30 July 2011

For the second time this season, Perth-Bayswater first grade conceded a big score to Palmyra, 54-19 at a rainy, wind-swept Tompkins Park on Saturday. But unlike last time, when Palmyra were strong contenders, according to the competition ratings this was a battle of seventh against ninth.

It was disappointing after holding some of the competition's leading teams to close losses that the team should capitulate so thoroughly, especially on a rain-swept occasion where gritty forward battles and scores that barely make double figures would be more expected.

Paly dominated from the opening whistle to run multiple phases of attack, and when Perth knocked after ten minutes Paly sent the ball wide quick and crossed in the corner, coming around to touch down closer to the posts. The conversion missed but Paly took an early 5-0 lead.

Perth had a couple of forays as the battle continued but errors and a one-sided penalty count kept Palmyra on attack. From a mystery lineout penalty close to Perth's line, Paly mauled up for the try. The conversion was a shocker but Paly went ahead 10-0 after 25 minutes.

Paly stayed on attack and after a series of pick and drives in Perth's 22, ran blind for a try in the corner on the half hour. The conversion missed again in the stiff cross-field Tompkins Park wind.

Perth came back to attack in Paly's 22 but turned over and Paly's fullback shot through a gaping hole to sprint 80 metres and touch down at the far end of the field. The conversion barely made the goal line let alone the posts but at 20-0 just before half time, it hardly mattered.

Half time didn't prove close enough for Perth,  another turnover over half way sending a another Paly player shooting through another gap — embarrassingly, a prop forward this time — and he passed out for one of the backs to score.

But to their credit Perth kept at their task and after a tap penalty in Paly's half, Western Force fullback Alfi Maafi ran wide and passed back in for a try to inside centre Mike Lee close to the posts. Centre Thomas Trautmann converted from a handy angle for the visitors to go into the break 25-7 behind.

Paly opened the second half with more of the same, with a try eight minutes into the second spell as the errors and turnovers kept coming for Perth, compounded by a back pedalling scrum and the occasional lineout wobble.

Another try followed three minutes later as the Palmyra team made it look like child's play.

But again the Perth boys proved their heart by running back from halfway for Mafi to sprint 30 metres down the sideline and score in the corner. The sideline conversion narrowly missed but at least there was some resistance at 35-12 after 17 minutes.

Then normal service resumed, Paly running through minimal tackling for a try close to the posts. Paly finally managed a conversion as gusts of rain swept across Tompkins Park.

Another Palmyra try took them to 49-12 but Perth lifted for a period of attack in Paly's 22 and came close to scoring, however once again Palmyra broke out and made the Perth team look foolish with a length of the field try. The conversion missed but Paly cracked the half century at 54-12 with ten minutes to play.

But Perth still weren't going quietly and contested right to the end, fullback Mafi giving Paly a taste of their own medicine with a storming length of the field try in the last play of the match. Trautmann converted for a bit of respectability at 54-19.

With two more matches remaining there is a sense that the team which once promised so much at the start of the season, is now simply going through the motions in second-last place, and the end cannot come soon enough. 

Mike Murphy scores
Still in there: hooker Niko Letufuga plugs away for the beleagured boys in black

There was worse news lower down the ranks with seconds losing to Palmyra 50-7, thirds losing to Palmyra 92-0, and fourths drawing Paly 7-7, but at least Unders 20s defeated Palmyra 27-12, while Under 18s lost the minor premier position with an 11-3 defeat by Wanneroo, and the Women downed Kalamunda 29-0.






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