Round 6 of FMG Premiership rugby saw our Premier & Reserve Grade teams return to action after the bye and taking on the current ladder-leaders Nedlands away at Sir Charles Court Reserve Foreshore in all 3 grades plus Colts, whilst our Women’s team travelled to McGillvray for a double-header against UWA and Wanneroo.
Starting with our Colts, Round 6 saw our boys back at the Foreshore ready to play a tough Nedlands team at home. The first half produced a very scrappy game from both sides, but the boys looked determined to take the game to Nedlands and showcase our rapidly developing talent, punctuated by gritty, committed defence and glimpses of brilliance on attack. With the score 14-5 at half time the boys had to come out and really show some guts to work back into the contest, and they were led here by a man of the match performance by Luke Holt-Brown. We started the second half well, but it took a while for this to translate to points on the board, meaning time started to become an issue. We surged late on to bring it to within a converted try, but unfortunately our comeback was not enough, with the boys going down 28-22. We scored 4 tries in total, with Zsen Falakoa grabbing a double meat pie, and Tama Mason and Devontay Tauiti crossed once each as well. Overall, a gutsy performance, with the scoreboard not reflecting how well we played. Our Colts are now developing a sense of what is required to be successful at this level, and each week they are getting closer to sustaining this level across a whole match. We look forward to being back home next week, ready to perform in front of a big home crowd.
Moving next to our Ladies, Round 6 saw Perth Bayswater’s ATA Women’s Community team head to McGillvray Oval to take-on both UWA and Wanneroo ladies’ teams in a double-header. Unfortunately, the ladies did not get the W but showed massive development in their structure and an unrelenting positive attitude on the field. Each week the ladies continue to show massive leaps in individual skill improvement and team play. A highlight of the game was a hard-fought try to Juile Cappellano, displaying power and strength to push over the try line. A special mention goes to the player of the day, Emily Fetherston, who protected the ball in the rucks and made some line-breaking carries. The ladies team welcomed back Sierra Nowlan, who played with strength in the forward pack, ending the day with a noteworthy performance. A shout-out also goes to Eve McKay, Alannah Sheffield and Sierra Nowlan for demonstrating sportsmanship and supporting women’s rugby by jumping onto the field and filling in for Wanneroo, who were short on numbers.
Lastly, congratulations to Rebecca Annan for taking the field for her first game of rugby.
Our next match covered, was the much-anticipated top of the table showdown in Third Grade against an undefeated Nedlands. The game started well with Perth Bayswater dominating possession and territory with the wind behind them but unfortunately, we were unable to capitalise on the scoreboard and went into the halftime break 5-0 down. The second half into the wind was much more challenging, especially after losing key players to injury and Ill-discipline (leading to two yellow cards) which proved too great to overcome. The final score, not reflective of the battle, was Perth Bayswater 5, Nedlands 26. The team now know the standard or rugby they will need to play if we want to be a force at the end of the season, and the silver-lining is I feel we are more than capable.
In Reserve Grade our boys put in their best performance of the season and really tested a very good table-toping Nedlands outfit. We tried very hard all game, but suffered another agonising defeat that did not reflect the closeness of the contest. In the end numerous failed exits, especially against the wind in the second half, forced us to play deep in our own half for too much of the game. Our defence was strong, especially throughout the first half as we managed to keep Nedlands to a single converted try. We managed to score a converted try ourselves and were unlucky to have another disallowed. A successful penalty saw us take a slight 10-7 lead into the second half, which was always going to be hard to defend in these conditions. Our second half started well, scoring an early try and stretching our lead a little further. However, as the game wore on and players became tired, we just did not have the depth in numbers or conditioning to keep with them as they started to lift their level. In the end we went down 35-17. Again, the score line does not represent how well we played, in terms of effort or execution. It was truly a gutsy effort and showcased how badly the boys want to win. Every player left their heart out on the field, and it was evident from the sidelines that they want to play for each other and have each other’s back. With a bit of polish and some fine-tuning I am sure we can put on a good battle against Kalamunda and hopefully push towards that second win.
In the main event of the day, our Premier Grade men were facing their biggest test of the Season: taking on the table-topping Nedlands at home (are we sensing a theme here…?) Our form has been good so far this year, only dropping the one game away to UWA in a game we really should have got more from, but the feeling around the club was this was going to be the litmus test for how real our chances are of competing for the 2022 Premiership. Despite a couple of key outs coming into this match, notably Chris Saulala and Victor Paul, and then losing Sam Thornley in the warm-up, there was a noticeable determination, and confidence from the team as they ran out onto the field. The team were able to call on the services of Andrew Ramsden for his first start of the season after overcoming a knee injury sustained in pre-season training, slotting into 10 and shifting co-Captain Otu Mausia out one spot to inside centre. Liam Becker also came into the side on the wing earning his run-on start after impressing in his Premier Grade debut off the bench vs Southern Lions.
In dark, sometimes wet, and at all times blustery conditions, we spent the first half running into the wind. The early exchanges were tight with some strong early defence from both sides, so it was quite surprising to find ourselves down an early try. Although it did take some sublime hands from Nedlands down a very narrow short side to unpick our defences, to release the electric James Petherick to score out wide. The try was converted, and we were down 7-0. This it would turn out would be the only time Nedlands were able to cross our line, but they did manage to add another 6 points in the first half via the boot of Finn O’Callaghan. The longer the game went on the better we looked. Nedlands still looked dangerous with ball in hand in wider channels, but our defence was at least equally impressive, with an abrasive physicality that really seemed to wear our opposition down. As impressive as our defence was, it was at scrum time where we really shined. Our front row of Max Veech, Dante Tatafu, and tight head Iona Vili absolutely bossed the Nedlands front row, consistently providing our backs with a strong platform, and winning numerous scrum penalties throughout the match (should have been more).
The sight of the Neddies scrum being consistently folded and pushed back at will on their home ground was a thing of beauty and likely to be one of my most treasured season highlights! As the game approached half-time, we were still down 13-0, despite looking the better team for most of the match, and there was a building sense that we needed to be the next to score and to start to convert this pressure into points. The opportunity presented itself on the back of a Perth Bayswater lineout near to halfway at the 34th minute. Despite the windy conditions Dante was able to pick out Lock Brandon Olow at the top of his jump, and from the resulting quick ball Otu Mausia was able to hit the gain line and look to offload in contact to Tavish Meade on his outside. Whilst the ball went to ground rather than to hand, Tavish was able to toe it ahead, get to it before the cover defence, open up his hips and toe it ahead again to the left of the defender as he rounded him on his right (in a move that any Premier League striker would be proud of) and then win the race to the ball grounding it in goal – ‘twas really a thing of beauty and showed rare skill to execute at pace. Otu was able to add the conversion, and with no further scoring for either side we went into the break 13-7 down. The second half started much like the first finished, with our boys dominating the scrum, often wining the contact, and looking the better team, but not quite being able to convert this pressure and dominance into enough points to really crack the game open. Sam George did manage to cross out wide in the 47th minute to close the gap to 1, but with Otu unable to convert in very tough kicking conditions, we remained behind by the slimmest of margins. As the game played out, we had the opportunity again to take the lead via Otu’s boot from distance, twice from memory, but again he was unable to dial-in his radar in the wind. It was therefore a brave call to again take the shot at penalty goal in the 71st minute, again from distance on the angle, but this time he did not miss judging the wind perfectly and finally we had a well-earned but narrow lead.
So, with less than 10 minutes to play the Baysie faithful on the sidelines were willing the team on to a famous victory, riding every tackle, every clean out, every pass, but Nedlands were not going to roll over and let us just have it. Trying to run the ball out from our own half we managed to isolate the ball carrier, and the referee was quick to blow a penalty for not releasing. The conditions were still not great for kicking, but Finn had not looked like missing one all game. Thankfully, someone must have muttered this aloud, which was possibly just enough to curse him, and see him put his shot wide. Unfortunately, we then gave him the opportunity to correct his mistake immediately… From the resulting restart we managed to have our 22m restart charged down, and were then penalised again for not releasing after regathering the loose ball. Either the previous miss was still playing on his mind, the gods were smiling on us, or a little bit of both. Whatever the genesis, Nedlands again squandered a gilt-edged opportunity to retake the lead by pushing their penalty attempt wide, this time directly in front 25m out. From this point on we were able to settle, regain composure and use the wind to get back up the other end of the ground to put the pressure back onto them. The final dénouement of an absorbing encounter came from an Iona Vili pick and drive in the left corner carrying a thousand Nedlands defenders over the line with him to seal the match sealing try.
Whilst it was not a textbook perfect performance, it was the perfect performance. There is an art and skill to being able to close out these sorts of close games, and now the team will now know that when the game gets tight and they need to find an extra gear, to lift their intensity, or to course correct mid game – as they have done now in the last 2 Rounds against Southern Lions and Nedlands – we can absolutely do so. There is certainly something building here, and the whole club are excited to see what it becomes. But one thing that became clear this weekend – there are several teams that we need to respect this year, but we should fear no one.
So that is a wrap on Round 6. W are looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible down at Pat O’Hara this weekend for another massive round of Rugby, with a Junior Carnival, our Colts playing Soaks, and our three Senior Men’s Grades taking on Kalamunda.