Round 18 Wrap-up

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Aug 25, 2022 | Uncategorized

“This is no time for boasts or glowing prophecies, but there is this – a week ago our position looked forlorn, and well-nigh desperate, to all eyes but our own. Today we may say aloud before an awe-struck world, ‘We are still masters of our fate. We still are captain of our souls’” Adapted Winston Churchill – House of Commons, 9 September 1941.

The Stan commentary team certainly rate us no chance, with the following quotes picked out of the pre-match build-up. Just having watched a few prem grade games over the season, I do like Associates… They’re strong, they’re big and they’re just really consistent… Bayswater as I’ve mentioned off the top have had a few injuries, so Brandon Olow who has been one of their best unfortunately he is out, along with Strachan, and Chris Saulala also out injured, and obviously we know Reesjan Pasitoa… Bayswater have really been struck hard by the injury curse…they’ve sort of been a really ‘up and down’ side… they haven’t been happy with Stan, they’ve lost two on the trot when they’ve been broadcast… Backs to the wall and on our own, but we expected no different.

Whilst we have earned a degree of qualified and muted praise in some corners of the Perth rugby community this year, this has often come with an undertone of scepticism of our bona fides as a real Top 4 side that can consistently contend with the competiton’s best teams. So, in the build-up to this week’s game I got the distinct impression, that whilst we may be the ‘peoples team’ with plenty of neutrals rooting for us, that the actual expectations, certainly within a certain Golden Triangle (or Bermuda Triangle perhaps, where any notions of fairness and a level playing-field mysteriously disappear?), was that Soaks would see our “necks wrung like a chicken!

“Some chicken… Some neck!” Adapted Winston Churchill – Canadian Parliament, Ottawa, 30 December 1941

All I know is that 80 minutes of rugby vs the ‘wrong end of Broome Street’ (or the “Preserves” perhaps? You know, Marmalade & Jam??) will deliver us our answer.

It is fitting that we bookend our season with games at home vs. Associates. Our Round 1 clash was set against a fantastic vibe, with a huge turn-out from the home supporters treated to a Baysie clinic in attacking running rugby, and the Round 18 clash is not too different, with our Ladies Day and a Third Grade win in their final hit-out of the season and looming court session, combining with the occasion to create a real carnival atmosphere. We ran out in Round 1 convincing 40 to 18 winners, in what would be the first real signal to our competition that “Baysie mean business” this year. The Soaks team we play in Round 18 is a very different proposition to the one we faced back in Round 1, and provides a perfect opportunity to prove to ourselves and the wider Perth rugby public just how far we’ve come.

The equation we face today is simple. Win by any margin and have Cottesloe lose by any margin, and we are through to a well-deserved Semi Final, the club’s first in the Premier Grade in a loooonnngg time. Lessgo!!!

We kick-off, running away from the club rooms and a Soaks clearance into touch gives us first use of the ball from the lineout. The early exchanges are littered with strong ball-carrying by some of our big forwards, with Iona, Nuku, Jake and Niko all bending the line, and punctuated with several big hits and generally strong defence from Soaks. Our first real opportunity to threaten comes from a 9th minute lineout, 30m from the Soaks line. Dante’s throw hits Nuku cleanly, and from the next ruck Iona carries for almost 10m busting a number of attempted tackles. Issak’s quick ball finds Aidan, who steps inside the initial tackler and makes another 5m before being pulled down just over the 22m. This ruck speed catches Soaks offside and allows Otu to open the scoring with an 11th minute penalty goal, 3-0 to Perth Bayswater.

Over the next few minutes Soaks look to put some pressure back on our defensive structures, and have worked the ball to just outside our 22m, but as he has done on so many occasions this year just as we start to look a little vulnerable on defence, Nuku manages to get on the ball and stay on his feet riding the attempted cleanout and force a pressure-relieving penalty. I feel the Stan commentary team may be watching a different game, or have certainly taken some creative-licence when describing Associates as “looking deadly with the ball” in the lead-up? But either way it’s a great turn-over. Otu’s kick for touch finds plenty of distance, but not the line as Soaks wing Ricky Wiley bats it back infield just outside of their 22m. The ball bounces and rolls for another 12m before it ends up in the hands of Soaks 9 Richie Fahy, who shanks his clearing kick into touch on the full. Having been carried back into the 22m it gives us a lineout throw only 5m out from their line, and a perfect platform to attack from. Keisuke takes the lineout ball cleanly, and Matty has a quick snipe around the corner, getting pulled down metres short of the line. Iona moves into scrumhalf and the defence is probably expecting him to pick-and-go, but instead he shovels a beautiful little ball out to Aidan Mcdonagh who powers over with great leg drive for our first try of the day. We really should thank the Soaks boys for the assist on this one, in turning a penalty kick that didn’t find touch into a 5m lineout throw and a gift 5-pointer (ta lads 😊). Otu turns it into a 7-point error, and sees us move out to a 10-0 lead after 18 minutes.

We are back in the Soaks 22m 2 minutes later, attacking from another lineout, but Soaks dodge a bullet as Sam Meecham manages to rip the ball from Iona’s grasp in contact as he makes another huge charge forward close to the line. One area that Soaks have been able to exert some pressure and dominance so far is in the scrum, and this one is re-set as both front rows are popped up. However, on the reset we are able to win the hit and push them backwards earning the penalty. Otu adds a further 3-points to his tally with the successful kick, and we are out to a 13-0 lead with 23 minutes now played.

It appears that Soaks need a way back into the game, and in the 26th minute the referee provides them one. Playing with penalty advantage Soaks attack inside our 22m, but the play breaks down. Referee Jordan Kaminski blows time off and calls out Otu and Matt Faoagali, which is never a good sign. This is only the second penalty we’ve conceded to this point, so no one is quite sure what the chat is about? Apparently, the referee has spotted a no arms tackle, with initial contact to the chest and subsequent contact to the head, and as a result he issues Matty a yellow card… (We know this only from watching the Stan replay and listening to the referees explanation, because no one else at the ground has seen what the referee thinks he has seen). This is a real momentum-shifter and will see us play out the majority of the second half with 14 men. From the resulting penalty Soaks kick to the corner, win their line out, and then score as the Loose Head peels off from the front, wrong-footing Keisuke just as he comes in to join the maul, crashing through the gap left on his way to the line. The successful conversion takes the score to 13-7, and with the 1-man advantage has tipped things back in Soaks favour.

With a man down our boys lift and go up another gear, and actually look the most likely to score. Off the back of a strong scrum win just inside Soaks 22m, we spread the ball wide where we have a man overlap on the right. Sam fires a long cut-ball to Liam Becker who is open on the wing, (although perhaps through hands to Drew to set Liam up was the better option). The pass is slightly behind, so Liam has to stop his run to take the ball allowing Soaks to slide to cover him, but a little shimmy step gets him on the outside shoulder of his man, and allows him to get a ball around the corner and back inside to Drew who explodes through two defenders with his electric pace, and advance to within a few metres from the line before being crunched in an actual no arms tackle just after the referee’s whistle was blown. He has called Liam’s ball to Andrew forward, which whilst flat, looked to be a harsh call.

With Matty back on the field we have managed to survive the 10 minutes with 14 men without conceding any further points (aside from the converted try scored as a result of the initial yellow card penalty) and in the shadows of half time we do earn the opportunity to score once more by winning another penalty. Playing with advantage, Otu takes the ball to the line and threads a grubber kick through to Nathan on the left wing. With the Soaks winger turning to chase and putting plenty of pressure on him, Nath receives an absolutely filthy bounce, and can do nothing to try and reel the ball in as the chance goes begging. Instead, we come back for the penalty and Otu has the chance to push our lead out to 9. It’s a kick he would slot 9 times out of 10, but unfortunately, he pushes it slightly left and we go into halftime ahead 13-7. For all the commentary on the Stan coverage gushing about the danger of the Soaks play, aside from the scrum where they have held a slight edge, it is Baysie who I feel have looked the more threatening and composed so far, and we deserve the lead we hold.

Meanwhile, over at the Pigeons Nest things are tight. Despite opening the scoring in the 18th minute those bloody Coastal Pigeons have hit back and scores are now locked 7-7 at halftime. I can’t say I’ve ever wanted UWA to win a game before, but geez I hope they bloody-well win this one….

We started the second half brightly, and again find ourselves on attack within the Associates 22m within the first 5-minutes. We hold for multiple phases metres from their line, but struggle to find the killer-blow to crack them open and score. With penalty advantage Issak shifts the point of the attack wider, but we still cannot crack them, and are eventually pinged for crawling on the ground (no release), so come back for the penalty. Otu slots the simple shot from in front, opening the 9-point lead we failed to secure at the end of the first half. The score now 16-7 in our favour, after 48 minutes played.

Things are also looking a little brighter at Harvey Field as well, with UWA now holding a slender 3 point lead courtesy of a 48th minute Caleb Young penalty goal.

Just like the first half Soaks seem to need a way to shift momentum and get themselves back into the contest, and as if on cue Mr Kaminsky obliges again. With 10 minutes now played in second half Associates are hot on attack in our 22m with a lineout throw. They secure their ball and look to maul it over. Matt Faoagali comes through the middle of the maul legally, but is then penalised for deliberately collapsing the maul by tackling the ball carrier. What’s more the referee has actually awarded a penalty try, and issued Matty with his second yellow card for the day, which converts to a red, and now sees us play out the final half an hour with 14-men and a now slim 2-point lead. Again, (in my humble and unqualified opinion) the call seems very harsh. As previously mentioned Matty comes through the maul legally, and to my eyes does not seem to attempt a tackle on the ball carrier until he has splintered off from the maul, which would be legal. I’d love to see another angle on it, but either way its academic, the card and the try are in the books, and we now need to find something special to close this one out.

Joshua 1:9Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

It is Perth Bayswater 16, Associates 14, 51 minutes played.

Meanwhile, at the Pigeon’s Nest the other game is starting to turn on us as well… It’s now 56 minutes played, and the Coastal Pigeons have scored their second try. The conversion is missed, and they lead 12-10.

Just as it did in the first half, going down to 14 men sees our black-clad warriors lift, with our commitment in defence in particular a standout feature. With 25 minutes to go the Stan commentary team remarked how “Associates have it all ahead of them and are just going to roll all over the top of this Perth Bayswater team”. But the longer we hold them out, the more we grow in confidence, and conversely the more rushed and ragged the Soaks play gets. The Soaks Marmalade & Jam Preserves grow visibly frustrated in their body language, as they start to push plays that aren’t really on in an effort to breech our line. I’m not sure what messages are coming from the sidelines, but I am shocked when Soaks win a scrum penalty after 57 minutes in a very kickable position and instead elect to kick for the sideline and chance their arm with the rolling maul. The old adage ‘there is no pressure like scoreboard pressure’ comes to mind, and I really am surprised they don’t take the opportunity here to take the lead. As these things often turn out, sloppiness from Soaks as they peel from the maul and try to attack the short side results in a knock-on and a turnover. The ensuing 5m scrum is put under plenty of pressure, and is heading backwards quickly, but Nuku masterfully controls the ball, extracts it cleanly, and sets us up for the clearance down field with strength in contact. Otu’s clearing kick does not find touch, and the Preserves reload to attack again. But just as they start to gain some momentum again a great pilfer by Aidan Mcdonagh turns the ball over again, and allows us to launch a counter-attack wide on the right and eventual clearance via the boot of Tavish Meade.

The battle between Darkness and Light is in full swing at Harvey Field, with the momentum starting to shift wildly. Despite missing a long-range penalty attempt in the 60th minute, the Students score under the posts in the 64th minute. The successful conversion seeing them reclaim the lead 17-12. But then just as quickly those filthy Pigeons score their third in the 66th minute and convert to open up a 2 point lead 19-17. The action is careening towards a climax, and all we can do is pray that it falls our way in the end.

John 1:5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

It takes 21 minutes played in the second half, but finally the commentary team starts to turn in our favour. With another penalty awarded and lineout throw to Associates close to the Perth Bayswater line, commentator Bec Clough remarks “Baysie are up for this, I can feel it”: please forgive the language, but fucken oath we are!!! The lineout throw is overcooked missing the Soaks jumper, and it is knocked on by Black in an effort to claim it. So, we have again earnt a scrum feed on our 5m line. This time the scrum holds firm, and the Soaks 9 is pinged for being offside, providing us with a much needed penalty. We earn another penalty at scrum time a few minutes later for the Soaks replacement front row (the Reserve Preserves? 😊) not pushing straight, and now all of a sudden, we’re starting to get some ball again. With 10 minutes to go and attacking from inside our half Otu spots Liam in space on the right wing, and chips cross-field for him. Liam juggles the ball but manages to reel it in and then pass inside to Andrew Ramsden, who scoots over the halfway line before passing inside again to Aidan, who is tackled (early before receiving the ball) just short of the 22m line. We earn a penalty for a breakdown infringement, and then put the ball into the corner for a lineout 5m out from the Preserves line. The throw looks good, but the referee pings Dante for not throwing the ball straight. It’s another one of those infuriatingly pedantic rulings, with Soaks not putting up a jumper to contest, the ball if anything favouring the Soaks side, and not a single Soaks player calling “not straight” (which is generally a pretty good yardstick). But with 10 minutes left to go, at least we are at the right end of the field now, and it is not long before we earn another opportunity to attack. It is 2 minutes later when Issak’s bouncing long-ball finds Nathan Hardwick on the wing. Nath does well to shrug off the attempted tackle and makes an invaluable 40m on a surging run to the 22m line where he is eventually collared. Desperate to get their hands on the ball, Soaks are penalised for hands in the ruck, and we are provided with what will prove to be the defining opportunity of the game. Otu kicks for the corner and we have a lineout 8m from the line. Dante makes no mistake this time, and hits Joe Annan cleanly. The maul forms well, the ball is cleanly transferred back to Nuku, and despite being a man down our pack out-muscles the Preserves as we drive the ball to the line and see Nuku crash over for the try and a 21-14 lead. With 5 minutes to go Otu lines up his most difficult kick of the afternoon. But with Ice in his veins and an understanding of how valuable a 9-point lead is to us; he takes his time before coolly slotting it.

Soaks continue to throw everything they can at us, but as we’ve proved over the course of the past 75 minutes their best just isn’t good enough to beat us, and there is no way we are going to let this game slip from our grasps. With 90 seconds to play Soaks win a final penalty and put the ball into touch for a lineout, but Nuku wins the jump and steals the ball, and we just never hand it back. We control the ball in tight over a handful of phases, and once it is confirmed with the referee that time is up Issak pulls it out of the ruck and boots the ball into touch, and that is the game. Baysie are triumphant 23-14.

We have done enough to win the day, but we don’t yet know if it is enough to make the Top 4 and a well-deserved Semi Final spot.

At the Pigeons Nest UWA are on attack around Cottesloe’s 22m line. Suddenly the referees arm shoots out. PENALTY!! There is 2:30 on the referee’s game clock as Caleb Young steps up to slot the go-ahead penalty. He rarely misses, and he makes no mistake here, steering the ball through the posts to give UWA the lead 20-19. There’s 1:20 left to go as the Pigeons make their way back to halfway. By the time Gio launches the restart the referee confirms “1 minute to go”. It’s a great short, contestable kick and the Pigeon chasers are all over it like a spilt cup of hot chips at the beach, but UWA do manage to secure it. There can only be about 40 seconds to go as UWA look to play out perhaps two final carries to run down the clock before putting the ball into touch. However, they botch the first, with their ballcarrier getting isolated and the cleanout late, Cottesloe are straight onto the ball. Much like our Round 13 win, there is late drama at Harvey Field, with Cottesloe awarded a penalty and an opportunity to snatch a late victory that will send them through to the Semi Final at our expense. It’s the kind of situation you live for as a goal kicker, and the time you want to see them stepping up and demanding the ball. Instead, the Cottesloe kicker Gio Leituala is 5 meters away trying not to make eye contact with captain Tobias Hoskins and shrinking into the background – he doesn’t want it! Despite the poor body language from his kicker Tobias points to the posts, and Gio steps up to line the kick up. The referee confirms this is the final play of the game. The kick is on the 10m line and 15m from touch, and wind does not seem to be a factor. Perhaps range is the concern? Gio commences his run up, strikes the ball… and it’s ugly off the boot! It sails well wide to the left and never looked a chance, and with that our fate is sealed. We are on our way to a Semi Final, and Cottesloe’s dream of buying 4 Premierships straight is over – and I couldn’t be happier.

Back at The Burrow there is still some confusion. RugbyXplorer is still showing the game score as UWA 20, Cottesloe 19, but it’s not marked as “Final”. President Darrell Stops tries to call UWA President Marty Lynn as Head Coach Johan Bardoul calls UWA Coach Alex Stajka. It’s The Staj who answers first, and he confirms that the game is over and that UWA has won. FINALS BABY!!!

Being Ladies Day and the Third Grade court session helps to ensure the party continues on into the early hours. We celebrate the win appropriately with even Sweet Caroline popping in for a visit.

But come Sunday the focus quickly shifts to recovery, and then preparation for our huge Semi Final against UWA at UWA on the 3rd of September. UWA have been a good side this year and have earned their Minor Premiership, but we have got unfinished business with them, and I know the boys will be licking their lips at the opportunity to go to their place and knock them out of the finals race in 2 weeks’ time.

Making finals is great, but winning finals in better.

So, let’s go win some finals boys!

2 more games!!



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