Updated: Jul 5, 2019
Associates v Wanneroo at Allen Park 15th June 2019
Wanneroo: 1 Andre Roux
2 Scott Cornell
3 Thomasi (TJ) Vunivalu
4 Elliott Ferriman (c)
5 Leon Power
6 Olly Callan
7 Teaute 'T' Walker
8 Mark Cornell
9 Reece Anapu
10 Ethan Reilly
11 Graham Hunter
12 Andrew King (c)
13 Grason Makara
14 Joe Bajjada
15 Steve Nolson
The Roo Dogs were looking to re establish their credentials and revive their season, after last week’s cruel, undeserved loss to Wests Scarborough in the dying minutes of the game.
Wanneroo’s intent was evident from the start when they tore into Soaks and disrupted their play. Eventually, their non stop, powerhouse tackling pressured Soaks into kicking a loose ball to avoid being over run. The Dogs caught the ball and ran it back, forcing Soaks to retreat into their own 22. The home team’s composure was rattled, their defence was frantic and eventually they knocked the ball on.
Wanneroo’s power in the first scrum was so intense that Soaks loose head prop got popped and the ref penalised Wanneroo. Soaks not only survived being pushed off their own ball, they got a penalty into the bargain and Wanneroo lost a try scoring opportunity.
Soaks forwards tested Wanneroo’s defence with some big hits, but the Dogs stopped every ball carrier without conceding ground. Soaks sussed it out pretty quickly and decided to give their back line a crack. The ball was passed quickly to the left wing, but he couldn’t make any headway so they switched the play to their right wing. When they still couldn’t make it over the gain line they probed both sides of the field again, but despite some well structured play they couldn’t find a weakness in Wanneroo’s tackle line.
The Roo Dog’s defensive structure and communication has been very good all season. Today it was outstanding.
Teams don’t make it into the top six on the premier grade ladder if they aren’t competitive and/or lack ability. Associates are in that top bracket for those exact reasons. Wanneroo and Soaks are both very good outfits with a positive attitude and they were relishing the contest. It was going to be another close contest.
They took the game to each other with vigour and confidence, but at this early stage the Roo Dogs were in the driver’s seat. Soaks got pinged for not releasing the ball in the tackle and Wanneroo kicked for a line out. The forwards gave good ball to Reece, who fired the ball out to Ethan. He maintained the momentum and the ball flashed through hands to the right wing. Wanneroo powered forward and when they were eventually held they set up a ruck. Reece switched the play smartly to his left wing where his backs and forwards combined with good driving play, interspersed with big hits, that took them into Soaks 22. It was looking ominous for Soaks, until a dropped pass by Wanneroo let them off the hook.
The scrums were being dominated by Wanneroo, but the Dogs pack actually had a difficult job. If they put too much power on, they could be penalised if Soaks front row got popped. And if they pushed too hard, too early Soaks scrum could collapse or wheel and the Dogs could be penalised again. So Wanneroo’s pack had to evaluate how much power they applied to every scrum.
Apart from the scrum, Associates had lifted their game and the teams were fairly evenly balanced by this stage. It was stalemate at most phases, until Associates got the dubious reward of a scrum feed after the Dogs knocked on. They got driven backwards but managed to get the ball out and have a go up their right wing. Wanneroo stopped the ball carrier, but he chipped ball ahead and created a fleeting opportunity for Soaks. Their runners took off, but were beaten to the ball by Steve (Nolly) Noll, who raced across and dropped on it to save the day.
Both sides were giving everything they had. The Wanneroo forwards did some hard yards and the backs made some damaging sorties, but the impasse remained unbroken until the ref awarded a line out to Soaks on Wanneroo’s five metre line. Soaks took their throw in ball and formed a driving maul that Wanneroo did well to stop, but they conceded a penalty in doing so. Associates chose the line out option again and set up another driving maul. This time they got their structure and momentum right and the Dogs couldn’t hold them. They scored a well worked try, but the conversion went wide.
ASSOCIATES 5 - WANNEROO 0
Wanneroo were behind, but not deterred and they resumed the attack immediately. Nolly had a great run and good support by Beets enabled the forwards to take the ball into Soaks 22. The home team was penalised at the breakdown and Ethan kicked for a line out on their 5 metre line. Wanneroo emulated Soaks driving maul, and got over the line - only to be held up. From the ensuing scrum, Mark Cornell picked the ball from the base and made ground before passing it out. Nolly and Kingy both took it on, with Kingy making good ground. He set the ruck and Olly did a pick and go. Soaks managed to hold him, but went backwards in doing so. Elliott and Beets followed up with hits that drove Soaks backwards, but didn’t breach their defence. Wanneroo attacked relentlessly and created another five or six crashing phases, continually sucking defenders in until the ball was popped to Ethan on the burst. He forced his way over the line for a try that was the end result of a coordinated team effort. He converted his own try.
ASSOCIATES 5 - WANNEROO 7
After the restart, Wanneroo continued their non stop, go forward play. Their good work resulted in them winning the ball and releasing Joe Bajjada. He raced down his left wing like a Bali belly sufferer looking for the dunny and made a good fifty metres before being tackled into touch. When the ref blew for half time Wanneroo was back in the driver’s seat, but with Associates were trying to grab the wheel.
HALF TIME: ASSOCIATES 5 - WANNEROO 7
Soaks drop out went high enough for their forwards to get under the ball and challenge for possession. The ball went loose and Soaks pounced on it. Their half back sent it out quickly and it was skipped out to their right wing. The Dogs closed him down, but were penalised in the tackle. Soaks kicked for a line out on Wanneroo’s five metre line, where their pack set up a driving maul Wanneroo managed to stop the first drive, but Soaks retained possession and hit the ball up for another seven or eight phases until the Dogs ran out of tacklers. Soaks scored in the corner. The conversion missed.
ASSOCIATES 10 - WANNEROO 7
Play resumed with Soaks catching the drop out ball and kicking it back upfield to Reece. He fed Nolly, who took off in a wide, arcing run that left defenders floundering in his wake. He made it into Soaks 22 and when he was held, he fought to retain possession and the ref blew for a penalty to the Dogs. Reece got injured, but I couldn’t see what happened. Ethan kicked three points from the penalty.
ASSOCIATES 10 - WANNEROO 10
Tane Koteka replaced Reece and battle recommenced. Both sides were keen to get it on and they both made mistakes as a result of pressure from the other. Wanneroo destroyed Soaks at two consecutive scrums. Mark Cornell broke from the second scrum with the ball, but when he got tackled the ball was turned over at the ruck. Soaks broke out with the ball, but chose a chip and chase option and one of their players made an awful head high tackle on the Wanneroo ball catcher. Everyone saw it - except the ref and his assistants.
Wanneroo took possession from another line out and moved it to their midfield backs. Elliott trailed them, took an inside pass and was taken to ground. I’m not sure what happened or why, but I saw Soaks No 8 deliberately hit Elliott with a knee and then follow up with multiple punches to the head while he was defenceless on the ground. A mellee broke out between the teams and the ref ended up giving a yellow card to Soaks No 8.
I’ve got to give an honourable mention to Andre (Beets) Roux here. Beets is known for never willingly taking a backward step and sometimes he likes to get his retaliation in first. To his great credit, here he was playing the statesman, telling everyone to calm down and step back (luv it Beets). Obviously his new found status as a peace keeper was recognised by his fellow peace keeper, because the ref gave a yellow card to Soaks No 8 and still awarded the penalty to Wanneroo. The penalty was approximately 45 metres from the posts and beyond the range of most kickers. But young Ethan stepped up and calmly stroked it between the uprights.
ASSOCIATES 10 - WANNEROO 13
Soaks kicked off and after a couple of phases they regained possession and took the play to Wanneroo in the forwards and then the backs. Wanneroo’s tackle line was uncompromising, stood strong and remained intact, but Soaks attack did force the Dogs into coughing up two consecutive penalties. The second one was awarded for incorrect numbers in the line out. The home side caught Wanneroo on the hop with a quick tap & go and ran the ball, sucking in defenders before passing to their right winger. He had enough space to operate in and accelerated around potential tacklers. The try looked to be on, because the winger had the advantage and should have pulled clear. But as in several previous games, Wanneroo’s 'never say die' attitude kicked in and Joe Bajjada raced after him. He knew he wasn’t going to catch him, so he threw himself into a magnificent diving ankle tap that hobbled the runner, enabling Wanneroo players to catch him and prevent a score.
Pulses were racing and the blood was up on both sides. It resulted in a scuffle on the sideline that saw Elliott and a Soaks player get ten minutes R & R. Soaks showed their mettle with some vigorous attacks, but found Wanneroo just as willing. Play alternated between them, but neither side could land the knock out blow. The Roo Dogs gave away a penalty near their own 10 metre line and Soaks ran the ball quickly from it. Their aggressive running got them to the Dogs try line, where they were repulsed repeatedly by bone crunching tackles. But they retained possession and continued hammering their way along the line until metre by metre until Wanneroo ran out of tacklers and their winger scored in the corner. Their kicker missed the conversion.
ASSOCIATES 15 - WANNEROO 13
Associates caught the drop out ball and attacked left, before kicking for touch. The kick dropped short and was fielded by Tane. He fed Nolly, who ran well before doing a chip and chase as he got closed down. Soaks got to the ball before he did and pumped it downfield. Captain King caught it and kicked it back to the half way for a line out. Soaks passed the line out ball to their right wing where a punishing tackle forced it loose and Wanneroo got a scrum feed on their own 10 metre line. The Dogs easily pushed Soaks scrum back and released good go-forward ball to their backs. Grason made a dynamic run into Soaks half, but the ball went loose in the tackle and Soaks got a scrum feed they weren’t looking for. They got well and truly blootered (Scottish slang), shoved backwards and penalised - all at the same time. Ethan stepped up and kicked another three well earned points to put the Dogs in front.
ASSOCIATES 15 - WANNEROO 16
Leon Power caught Soaks restart ball and managed to set it up, despite being hit by a tackler at the same time. His team mates took the ball into contact for several phases before giving it to Ethan, who kicked it long. Soaks counter attacked and worked really hard to try and get over the Dogs, but Wanneroo was dictating the play now. Soaks desperation was beginning to show and they got penalised for hands in the ruck. Ethan tried another forty odd metre penalty kick. It had the legs but drifted wide at the last second.
I believe there was a meeting of the intelligentsia behind the try line, with players calling each other names that rhymed with tanker. The ref asked them to desist and ended up penalising Wanneroo for lip. There was only minutes left in the game so Soaks kicked the ball to the half way, for one last hurrah.
Unluckily for them Wanneroo pinched their line out ball and set up a ruck. Ethan knew time was up and wanted to end the game, so he threw the ball into touch. He’s only a young guy and he didn’t realise that was a penalty offence. The ref duly awarded the penalty to Associates about 45 metres out. No one could criticise Ethan for his honest mistake, especially as he had scored all of Wanneroo’s points. But the dogs could have been forgiven if they thought this game was going to go the same way as Wests, with another undeserved loss in the dying minutes of the game. Soaks kicker hadn’t had a successful kick all day, which made it even worse because everyone thought Murphy’s Law might apply and he’d probably kick this one. He missed.
FINAL SCORE: ASSOCIATES 15 - WANNEROO 16.
This game was a test of Wanneroo’s game plan, as well as their mental & physical resilience. I’m proud to say they passed with flying colours. On their day, they have one of the best defensive structures in the competition and their attitude and application is very good too. If they make a mistake, the whole team works collectively and cohesively to fix it. Every individual in the squad contributes to the team as a whole.
The coaching staff are fully aware that this is a team of young men who are still learning and that they will continue to be tested and make mistakes. The pleasing part is that you can see they learn from their mistakes on a weekly basis. The coaches are obviously doing a good job, and I assume they are content with the progress the team is making.
Steve (Festa) Cavanagh was very pleased with his team’s set piece play.
He thought their discipline was controlled and effective and they brought a new, tough edge to their defence.
CAPTAIN’S CALL: Andrew King said his team’s defence was outstanding and the scrum was amazing.
His backs did everything asked of them and the team, as a whole, really consolidated in the second half.
Man of the Match – Ethan Reilly
OTHER RESULTS: Second Grade Associates 30 - Wanneroo 8
Thirsty Thirds Associates 48 - Wanneroo 5
Coach Paul Arnold said the team started well and got even better - until they took their foot off the gas and let Soaks into the game, when they should have been locked out.
Wanneroo was always a cut above and the result was never in doubt, but the game became scrappy and individual.
Paul believes the lapse in concentration may be of benefit to Wanneroo in the long term. He said Soaks put them to the test at times and the Dogs had to dig deep to get back on track. In the end they did it very well.
Flatulent Fourths Associates 33 - Wanneroo 0
Chief sneak, Ian (Mad Dog) Harvey was keen to give his in-depth analysis of the game.
He said Soaks may have scored all the points, but the Roo Dogs played really well.
Unfortunately, he couldn’t recall any highlights.
But he insisted that the Roo Dogs showcased moments of classic rugby brilliance that had the spectators in awe. Yup, you guessed it – both spectators went ‘Aw’
Mad Dog was eager to dish the dirt on his ageing, pensioner team mates.
Apparently Hewy and Macca have started a bromance in the second row and spend a lot of time hugging each other.
Neil can’t get over his love affair with Adelaide and often goes walkabout on the pitch with eyes closed, humming to himself and weeping for his lost romance.
Wanneroo Ladies had the Bye