Round 14 Wrap-Up

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Jul 28, 2022 | News

We have hit the split, with Round 14 of the Premiership rugby seeing our boys starting to duke it out with the other Top 6 heavyweights. Our first assignment? A trip back to the scene of one of our most satisfying wins this season (of which there have been a few already, am I right…) to again take on Nedlands at Sir Charles Court Reserve foreshore. Our Colts are at the same venue facing the same foe, looking to keep their season alive. A loss in this penultimate round will condemn their 2022 season, but do we dare to dream that the light will overcome the darkness once more? Lessgo!!

Moving onto Premier Grade our matchday 23 is strong, despite still missing a few regular starters. Jake is out another week with a slight heart issue (perhaps he has given too much of it to this club over the years), Ben is still out with an ankle injury, although he is nearing a return and Manu’s quad injury is worse that first thought, meaning he is likely scratched for the rest of our run home. Liam Becker is out with illness, but should be pushing for selection again next week at home vs. UWA. Also, in the backs Chris Saulala is being given a week off to rest a niggle in his knee, Otu Mausia is on international duty with the ‘Ikale Tahi Tonga for another week as they take on Hong Kong for a spot in the 2024 Rugby World Cup, and Issak Fines-Leleiwasa is likely another week or so from running out for us this season, but has been a welcome addition around the club at training this week. In positive news Aidan Mcdonagh got through 60 minutes last week against the Coastal Pigeons without issue and is raring to go again selected at openside. Victor Paul returns to the team and the starting 15 at Fullback having recovered from his hand injury, Jake Strachan has been cleared to return to the 23 via the bench and talismanic Tighthead Iona Villi is free to play have served his suspension, and will be looking to work out some frustrations of having to sit and watch our run of 5 undefeated games from the pine, out on some tiring Nedlands forwards.

The day’s earlier games on Field 1 have turned the pitch into a quagmire, to the point that a decision is taken to move the Premier Grade match (along with the scaffolding, cameras etc.) over to Field 2. I’m actually a little surprised that none of the Nedlands gentleman asked our chaps if they had a spare Scaff Key in their bags… 😊. Anyway, off to Field 2 we go. The turnout last week at Harvey Field was good but this week was even better, despite the conditions, with the sideline heaving with Baysie supporters. If the mood last week was quiet optimism, then this week it was almost an air of inevitability. I say this without arrogance or hubris, but there was not a single player or supporter that I spoke to on Saturday or in the build up that thought the game was going to go any other way than another Baysie victory. In 80-minutes time we will find out if that faith was well placed.

The game commences. In a carbon-copy of last week’s start to the second half, Reesjan catches the kick off cleanly and immediately bangs it straight back up field and into touch over the halfway line. It is such an alpha-move and I take it a s a good omen for how the rest of the game will play out. Neddies win the lineout with a clean catch, but their Lock bounces the ball down to their 9, and it allows Brandon to run through and steal possession. We look to play to the conditions early, with Reesjan not afraid to kick for territory and trust our D to force mistakes. Neddies look to send large runners at us around the 10-12 channel, this includes man-mountain Zantana Pomare-Tutagalevao (henceforth simply referred to as The Mountain), who gets his hands on the ball quite a few times in the early exchanges, but finds no way through our solid black wall.

We also probe Nedlands around the 12 channel, with Tavish Meade doing his best Chris Saulala impersonation, and carrying strongly into the Nedlands line on a number of occasions in the first half to provide some front-foot ball. Our first real opportunity to attack comes from a Nedlands kick downfield that finds Reesjan. He takes the ball on the 10m line, absorbs the hit from their 13 and slips an inside ball back to Sam George, who dummies on his outside and splits the two defenders in front of him as he sprints up field and over the Nedlands 22m. We then look to play wide out the back from Reesjan to Victor to Tavish, but Tav is creamed by his opposite number jamming up just as the ball arrives. We had Nuku and Brandon on Tavish’s outside, but he had no opportunity to move the ball out. The ball spills and Nedlands take possession.

We earn another crack at them on the right-hand fringes a few minutes later on the back of a good lineout win by Joe Annan, and after a strong settling run by Matt Faoagali. Reesjan then plays wide through Victor, then Sam and onto Danny who scorches them for pace, but the play is called back for a dubious forward pass… The scrum restart gives Nedlands their first real chance to attack us. From the scrum win the Nedlands 10 plays a ball out the back to the blind Winger (not to be confused with the blind referee…) who hits on the angle and slices through before being pulled down from behind by Reesjan. Nedlands work the ball into our 22m over the coming phases, but the play breaks down when Nuku manages to get over the ball and force a penalty for not releasing.

The rest of the first half follows a similar pattern. We dominate possession and territory without managing to capitalise and put points on the board. Tavish continues his best Chris Saulala impersonation by trucking the ball up from 12, and whilst he may give away a few CMs and KGs to our regular wrecking ball 12, he still provides plenty of sting in the carry, and we continue to recycle quickly to get on the front foot. Reesjan controls the game well through his big right boot and some crisp ball-playing on both sides of his body, but we do butcher a few opportunities. I’m sure Nathan would like a ‘do-over’ when he cut back inside 1m for the line only to lose the ball in contact with an unmarked try scoring machine in Matt Faoagali on his outside. Given the success we had out wide earlier on we are also probably a little guilty of trying to get there a little early, and fall into the trap of throwing long cut balls and drifting a little laterally, and with no one squaring up, it’s all too easy for Nedlands to slide in cover and pick us off. Despite our slight edge in territory and possession and having had more of the opportunity to score it is Nedlands who manage to register the first points of the afternoon courtesy of a penalty goal, with Aidan being pinged for not rolling at the breakdown. We return favour via Reesjan’s boot in the 38th minute bring us to halftime with the scores locked at 3-3.

It is a strange first half, being the clearly dominant team and having left plenty of points out there through poor finishing, but coming in for oranges at 3-3, but the vibe on the sidelines is still one of confidence. We are dominating, we have the stronger bench, and we will come home over the top of them with our superior conditioning if we need to.

The second half commences, and it is Nedlands that get the first opportunity. Running from the 10m line, their Fullback breaks the line and makes 30m before releasing the Winger on his outside. Victor’s tackle manages to slow him and Stopsy tracking back manages to pull him to ground. Matt Faoagali also tracks back and gets over the ball forcing a turnover and we avert danger with a long Reesjan Pasitoa clearing kick. However, it’s not long until Nedlands are back threatening on attack and earning themselves a penalty almost in front of the posts. They opt to take the shot at goal and line up for what should be an easy 3-points, but their kicker misses it… The next period of play remains the arm-wrestle it has been throughout, with neither side able to capitalise on opportunities and create any scoreboard pressure. We have flashes of brilliance: Reesjan’s quick tap and 30m carry from a scrum penalty, Dante continuing to make ground with his strong running game and Aidan Mcdonagh getting through a heap of work on defence and on the ball around rucks but continue to struggle to turn this into points. As often tends to be the case in these sorts of affairs, it is actually Nedlands that score the first try of the game a few minutes later, despite Baysie having looked the most likely. Stopsy’s box-kick is charged down and under pressure Reesjan bundles the ball into touch. Nedlands win the lineout and work the ball forward in tight until they are 2m away form our line and under the posts. Heath Tessman, using his 100 years of experience spots a gap where our first defender off the ruck should be, picks and goes and dives over. There is no divine intervention this time (the big guy probably suggesting it serves us right for sloppy defending I guess) and Nedlands now lead 3-10.

After slipping behind we click immediately into gear. Reesjan’s re-start is deep and finds space and skips into touch inside their 22m. A few minutes later we catch Nedlands offside near the halfway line and Reesjan again bangs a huge touch-finder into the wind, giving us a lineout throw 7m out from the Nedlands line. We win the lineout and threaten the Neddies line and drawing a penalty. We decide to take the scrum but are penalised releasing the pressure we have been building.  The pressure relief is short-lived however, as we pinch another Nedlands line-out throw and go back on the attack, now aided by Jake Strachan who has come on at the 60-minute mark to play out the game. The injection of Jake has given us some extra spice to our attack, in addition to Reesjan’s threatening running game and the strong direct running of Aidan, Dante and Brandon in particular. On attack inside the Nedlands 22m Jake has the ball in his hands and steps inside ‘The Mountain’ and then inside the cover defence and pops a pass to Brandon Olow running a beautiful support line who then crashes over from 2m out. The Baysie boys have just turned the screws over 16+ phases and we are again coming home with a wet sail. Reesjan misses adding the extras, and the score is now 8-10 with 18 minutes left to play.

Just like last week we are outworking our opposition in the final quarter: a huge counter ruck from Aidan wins us turnover and Ty Newsome-Smith carries for 20m. We keep control of the ball and continue to make ground moving the ball into the Nedlands 22m. Sensing the opportunity on the blindside, Stopsy shifts right to Aidan who attracts 3 defenders and manages to slip an offload to Jake on the sideline who acrobatically dives over the attempted tackle for the go-ahead try. The conversion misses again, but we are now in the lead 13-10. Nedlands catch their shallow restart and then (somehow?) manage to earn themselves a penalty advantage. After a few aimless phases they come back for the penalty, and have the chance to square the ledger at 13-13. It is an easy attempt, even in the tough kicking conditions today, but in what I’m taking as an act of divine intervention, and a clear signal that the man upstairs also believes this is our year, the attempt appears to catch a gust of wind and curls around the righthand upright. From the sideline it looks good, and the Nedlands kicker remonstrates animatedly with the referee, but both Assistant Referee’s flags remain down as they run back to the sideline…

Reesjan puts his laces into he 22m restart and the ball sails well down into the Nedlands half. They clear to touch, and it is our throw near the 10m line after being put out on the full. When we next turn the ball over to them, they again look to kick downfield, almost completely devoid of ideas… Now what happens next, I have played over in my head time and time again to see if there was perhaps a different way it could have played out, but t the end what occurs is just part of our game sometimes unfortunately…

Jake catches the Nedlands clearance near the sideline and passes back infield to Reesjan. He gives half a thought to playing out wide to the left, but I’m guessing mindful of the time and playing tighter instead steps back inside towards where the support will be coming from to carry himself. He evades the hooker, but runs into the fullback his momentum lint contact lifts him slightly off the ground and when he re-lands slightly off balance his knee gives the slightest little buckle. It looks innocuous enough, but when he stays down after the play moves on and is clutching at his left knee, a ripple of concern rips through the bench and supporters on the sideline. The play continues with Aidan double-pumping and then running and offloading to Dante, who plays in Nuku, who then passes to Victor on the sideline. He tries to toe ahead but it catches the Neddies defender and bounces straight into touch. Our throw 27m out from their line. With the play broken down we go back to Reesjan. Who is receiving attention from the physio. In a show of how much playing for his childhood club means to him he tries to stay on the field, with what scans will later how is a ruptured ACL. No one in attendance will ever question his toughness or his commitment to the jersey, and with 4 minutes left to play he hobbles over the bench under his own steam.

There is a little drama left to play out, with Neddies earning a dubious scrum penalty for Niko not scrumming straight. They kick for touch, but their lineout throw is also not straight… Dante’s throw is picked off, perhaps the only blot in his copybook, in what has been a best on ground performance, but Neddies blow their last shot by knocking on almost immediately. We have the knock-on advantage and whilst the ball is in the ruck Jake Strachan confirms that time is up with the referee and drops into the pocket and kicks it into touch. Game over – Baysie win 13-10.

Now for anyone reading today, that is perhaps a little disappointed in this week write-up, and feeling that it is lacking some of the theatre and poetic licence of last week’s write-up I apologise. But I’m not going to lie, this one hit a little differently compared to last week’s win over the Pigeon’s. Now that’s not to say that our boys did not play as well, or that they wanted the win any less, or that this week’s opposition was any easier to beat (looking at the form guide you would suggest that beating Nedlands at Nedlands is the harder task), but the vibe was a little more reserved than it was last week and the win felt a little more business as usual vs. the previous week’s good vs. evil struggle. Now I put that down to a few things.

  1. Beating Nedlands at Nedlands is not new to this group. We have done it twice now this season.
  2. We had not beaten Cottesloe in Premier Grade for longer than anyone cares to remember, and that was a huge monkey to get off of our collective back as we head into finals, and
  3. Without any arrogance I get the feeling the boys now really feel that they belong here, and that whilst wins against the “Golden Triangle” always feel good, we now go into these games expecting to win. The flip side of that is that actually winning feels less like a ‘grand final win’ and more like a sense of fulfilling our potential.

If I’ve not made it clear yet, the potential of this group is limitless!

Last year on their socials Nedlands spruiked their clash with Southern Lions as the battle to separate the Lions from the Pussy Cats, now I won’t be drawn into a discussion on what the Southern Lions may or may not be, but we certainly did not find any Lions at Sir Charles Court Reserve on Saturday.








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