WANNEROO v ASSOCIATES at Kingsway 20th July 2019
1 Andre (Beets) Roux
2 Scott Cornell
3 Shaun Barling
4 Hadley Swan
5 Brad Campbell
6 Teaute ‘T’ Walker
7 John-Martin (JM) Stewart
8 Mark Cornell
9 Tane Koteka
10 Ethan Reilly
11 Graham Hunter
12 Sylvo Iro
13 Andrew King (c)
14 Dylan Smith
15 Grason Makara
Today’s game is one of the most important games of the season for Wanneroo. They need a win to stay in touch with the competition leaders. The Roo Dogs earned the right to be included in the upper echelon of the best six teams in WA rugby with some fine performances this season, but it’s still a work in progress.
It’s true to say that they haven’t had the best of luck in some games, where good play went unrewarded. But they have also had games where they played below their best and didn’t show their true value and worth. Let’s hope they get a fair crack of the whip and the opportunity to display their skills and teamwork this week.
The Dogs have had an awful run of injuries and absences over the last few games, that has seen them lose up to a third of their team. That bad luck continues today, with TJ Vunivalu, Olly Callan, Joe Bajjada, Steve Nolson, and Andrew Deegan unavailable. Powerhouse locks, Leon Power and Elliott Ferriman, have left the club to fulfil professional contracts, which adds to the losses.
The good news is that John-Martin Stewart returns from injury to take his place on the flank, the very capable, Shaun Barling, starts in the front row and Dylan Smith gets an opportunity on the wing. The surprise of the day, is seeing one of Wanneroo’s most popular players, the evergreen veteran, Sylvo (the Horse) Iro return to Premier grade rugby in the centres, alongside captain Andrew King.
WANNEROO v ASSOCIATES:
Wanneroo couldn’t have had a better start to the game. They came out of the blocks like thoroughbreds and raced into Soaks with passion and intensity. The pack looked like they were relishing the game and their controlled hit up’s enabled them to supply ball to the backs, on the front foot. Ethan took advantage of the space and had a mazy run that took him to within ten metres of Soaks try line. The pack carried the ball on and sucked defenders in, before feeding Ethan again. He swung the ball quickly to Grason, who left two Soaks defenders flat footed to score. Ethan added the bonus points.
Wanneroo 7 – Associates 0
Soaks were stunned, but not deterred and slowly worked their way into Wanneroo’s half. The Dogs didn’t give ground easily and John-Martin epitomised their attitude when he put in a pile driving tackle that drove the ball carrier back a good two metres. Soaks were forced to go wide and made inroads, via good work by their No 8, who managed to release his winger. When he got held, his scrum half took the ball on in a dangerous looking run down the wing. Unfortunately for him, Graham Hunter lined him up and tackled him into touch. The ref saw an offence that I didn’t and penalised the Dogs Soaks took the line out option and kicked the ball to the Dogs 22. Their hooker threw a short ball straight to his prop at the front of the line, taking Wanneroo by surprise. He crossed, untouched, for a soft try that was converted.
Wanneroo 7 – Associates 7
Wanneroo composed themselves and took the drop out ball into contact. A series of hit up’s got them into Soaks 22, where Beets had a go at the line. When he got tackled, his fellow forwards swarmed over the ball enabling Tane to set Grason up. He ran well, but Soaks tackled equally well and managed to stop the play. The ref then called play back for an earlier infringement by the visitors. It looked like Ethan’s kick at goal went over, but the ref disallowed it.
Wanneroo and Soaks resumed their tussle for supremacy. Both sides had a couple of good runs and put in some solid tackles, but the Dogs were leaking penalties. Mark Cornell did a pick and go from a scrum and set the ball for Brad, who powered on. He linked with JM and their combined drives got them to Soaks five metre line, where Beets had another go. This good work gave Ethan the opportunity to release Sylvo. He hit hard and when he got held Mark backed up with a drive that enabled Grason to make ground and feed captain Andrew King on the charge. Kingy bust his way through two defenders before being brought down, but the Dog’s well executed phases of play came to naught when the ref awarded a penalty Soaks for not releasing.
Soaks regrouped and tried to force their way through the Dogs midfield, but Sylvo linked up with Mark to nullify their attack with a couple of big hits. Graham and Kingy put in another couple of punishing tackles that stopped Soaks about 10 metres out, but the ref saw an offence and penalised Wanneroo. The visitors opted for a scrum, but couldn’t hold the Dogs concerted shove and went backwards. Soaks went from the base and a ball carrier stood the defence up, before slipping an inside pass to a support runner, who went through a gap to score. Their kicker lined the ball up for the conversion, but a great, never say die, charge by Graham disrupted his rhythm and the ball went wide.
Wanneroo 7 – Associates 12
Play resumed with both sides trading kicks and hit up’s, until Wanneroo got the advantage with a scrum feed on Soaks 22. The Dog’s dominance in the scrum gave Tane enough time to send the ball out to Ethan in space. He fed Kingy, who took it on before getting the ball away to Grason, who had come into the line. He ran strongly, but got tackled into touch about five metres from the try line. Soaks passed their line out ball back for a clearance kick to get themselves out of trouble. Wanneroo did a great job to get up quickly, disrupt the kicker & regain possession. But their good work was wasted when they knocked the ball on. The Dogs scrum was so powerful that they had Soaks in all sorts of bother and forced a turn over, only for Wanneroo knock it on again.
The game continued with repeated scrums that gave Wanneroo the opportunity to dictate the terms of play. Ethan fed Kingy, who crashed his way over the gain line and set the ball for his pack. They took it into contact and sucked the opposition in, before giving it out to Tane. He passed to Ethan, who fed Sylvo on the run and the Horse showed his class when he did a bit of a step to beat one defender, before smashing into a second. He was held, but continued to power his way towards the line. Another Soaks defender joined in and the two guys managed to slow him, but Sylvo stretched out a telescopic arm and planted the ball over the line. Not bad for a veteran, third grade player eh? The wide conversion missed and the whistle went for half time shortly afterwards.
Wanneroo 12 – Associates 12
HALF TIME: Wanneroo 12 – Associates 12
The second half opened with Wanneroo putting in some good drives and smart kicks, but they continued to make life difficult for themselves by giving penalties away and knocking the ball on, after getting themselves into good positions. Soaks used a line out ball to mount an attack through Wanneroo’s 10 – 12 channel. The Dogs crash tackles stopped them dead and won them a scrum feed about 10 metres from Soaks line. Mark ran from the scrum base and made good ground, before setting the ball for Beets. Ethan and Graham followed on, before Graham sent a long kick deep into Soaks territory. The visitors ran it back and had a golden opportunity when they created a dangerous looking overlap. Luckily they wasted it.
Soaks were beginning to monopolise possession, which gave them increased opportunities and options. Wanneroo didn’t lack heart or effort and contested everything, but they made mistakes that disrupted their play and gave Soaks unearned advantages. The Dogs were struggling to get out of their own half and eventually gave away a penalty for a high tackle. Soaks took the three gift points.
Wanneroo 12 – Associates 15
Wanneroo tried hard to get back into the game. Their forwards pulverised another Soaks scrum, forcing them to kick long. Graham took the ball on the full and counter attacked with good support from Grason. They made it into Soaks half but the ball went loose in the tackle. Soaks got the scrum feed and sent the ball deep again. Graham ran it back again, supported by Sylvo and they took it as far as they could before setting it up for their forwards. ‘T’ obliged with a destructive hit up that put Soaks in a world of hurt. The ball went wide to the right wing where Hadley made a lovely break that put Soaks in deep trouble. He had Sylvo inside, a support runner outside and only one defender in front, but he chose to kick the ball. In his defence, it was a magnificent cross kick to the centre of the park and if Wanneroo had any inside chasers following up there’s no doubt it would have resulted in a try. But Soaks were off the hook.
The Roo Dogs dug in and managed to pin Soaks in their own 22 for a while, until the ref awarded a penalty to the visitors. They kicked the ball long into Wanneroo’s 22 and their follow up gave the Dogs some dangerous moments, until Sylvo managed to break out and relieve the pressure. Soaks came back with a sparkling phase of play that got them close to the Dogs try line. Their support players flooded in and Wanneroo did really well to hang in and close them down. Their determination and work rate saw them push Soaks back and win a turn over ball, which they set up for Tane. He gave it to replacement prop ‘G’, who did a great job to charge out of defence. His right winger, Dylan, raced up the sideline outside him screaming for the ball and ‘G’ saw him and passed, but the ball went low and got knocked on.
Soaks got the scrum feed, managed to stay reasonably in control and their No 8 took off with the ball. JM hit him with a good one but he still got his pass away to his 10 & 12 who had looped round him. Wanneroo hurled themselves at the ball carriers, but Soaks managed to keep their momentum going. It became trench warfare for a little while, with neither side yielding, until Soaks set their sights on the middle of the park. They gave the ball to one of their big forwards who charged ahead. ‘T’ was the first defender and he stopped him in his tracks, but he got the ball away to a support runner who hit the hole to score a converted try.
Wanneroo 12 – Associates 22
Wanneroo and Soaks played aerial ping pong for a while, when the Dogs should really have kept ball in hand. Soaks lock had a gallop, smashed into several defenders and drove them back before laying the ball back. It was chipped over the Dogs tackle line where a Soaks player gathered it and took it on. ‘T’ put another big hit on, forcing the visitors to re evaluate their options. They decided to maintain their hit & run style of play for another seven or eight phases and eventually created enough room for another try.
Wanneroo 12 – Associates 29
FINAL SCORE: Wanneroo 12 – Associates 29
This was a day the Roo Dogs badly needed a win. Their application and work rate couldn’t be faulted, but they let themselves down in the execution of their play. They have proved beyond doubt that, on their day, they can match any team in the competition. It’s a tribute to how much they and their coaching team have progressed, that they have the structure and organisation to get themselves into dominant field positions. But, at times, they seem to get anxious and try to rush play that could be settled. If they can relax and trust themselves to build on the phases they create, they will be able to consolidate their position in the top teams in WA rugby.
It was a disappointing day, but the Roo Dogs still have a lot to play for and a lot to prove. They have the opportunity to show their true worth in the last two games of the round, with plum fixtures against Cottesloe at home this week and then Nedlands away.
Wanneroo opened up strongly and kept Soaks penned in their own 22, until an ‘out of the blue’ run saw Soaks make a startling length of the field break. It really should have resulted in a try for them, but Wanneroo somehow got back and closed them down. They gave a penalty away in doing so and Soaks kicked for a line out. A comedy of errors followed, when Wanneroo pinched Soaks line out ball then turned it over in the tackle. Both sides fumbled around for a while, but nothing of any note occurred until Soaks managed to string together a few well constructed phases which they ran with purpose. Wanneroo’s usually tight, aggressive defence was a bit slack and Soaks scored a try in the corner.
Wanneroo 0 – Associates 5
Wanneroo responded almost immediately, when they made repeated hit up’s that took them into Soaks 22 and earned them a scrum feed. The Dogs No 8, Seta Fano (Rob) did a pick and go from the base and created all manner of mayhem that had Soaks struggling so badly they gave a penalty away. Wanneroo went for the line out and drive option, took the ball and grunted their way forward. Happy hooker, Carl, had the ball tucked under his arm at the back of the maul and he picked his time and line perfectly to peel off and score. Broden took the conversion, but he fell over and his kick missed.
Wanneroo 5 – Associates 5
The Roo Dogs restarted with more power drives and multi phase plays that drove Soaks backwards into their own 22 again. All was looking good for a score until the forwards dropped the ball, allowing Soaks to breathe easily. Wanneroo coughed up a penalty that Soaks kicked to the corner, but the wind caught it and it stayed in play. Wanneroo returned the kick and the same happened to them when the wind pushed the ball back infield. Soaks No 8 took a great sliding catch and moved the ball quickly to his open side flanker in the centre of the field. He went through a hole in the defence and committed full back Mike before feeding one of his fat boys on the burst. He ran hard and scored a converted try.
Wanneroo 5 – Associates 12
Soaks were awarded a scrum feed, but got blootered (Scottish terminology) and Josh Yoder pinched their ball. The Dogs had possession, but continued making mistakes with ball in hand. The ref awarded two consecutive penalties to Wanneroo, and they also had two scrum feeds where they put Soaks to the sword, but still came away scoreless.
HALF TIME: Wanneroo 5 – Associates 12
Soaks restarted with vigour and took the game to Wanneroo. The Roo Dogs defended well and their efforts earned them a scrum feed, which they used to launch an attack through the middle. At the next breakdown, the Dogs forwards set the ball up for scrum half Bryce. Soaks forwards were laying all over the ball, causing Bryce to have to tap dance on them to dig it out. He got it, but only at the expense of the ref penalising him for a knock on. Soaks scrum was then routed by the Dogs and penalised by the ref. The Dogs had every opportunity to show their wares, but didn’t. Their play was loose, individual and unstructured and unforced errors cost them dearly.
Soaks rode their luck when they broke out of defence and made it to the Dogs 22 where they fed their winger. He looked odds on to score and they must have been devastated when Julian hurtled in and smashed him into the turf to save the day for Wanneroo. Soaks swung the breakdown ball across field to their right wing, where they created an overlap. Thank goodness the ball carrier was a selfish git who went on his own, enabling Wanneroo’s defenders to wrap him up.
The only bit of entertaining play for a while was when Soaks excellent fat boy made another bullocking run into Wanneroo’s packed defence. I think this was his fourth or fifth such run and he was very hard to stop, but the Roo Dogs managed to do it. Jake Radcliffe showed his ability with ball in hand, when he made a good run up the side line. After he set the ball, it was sent out to ‘G’ on the run. He had a jump in the air that fooled nobody, and then he did a little war dance before finally starting his day time job by taking three tacklers out and setting the ball up. The Roo Dogs backs combined well to take play into Soaks 22, until they knocked the ball on. Wanneroo’s play was becoming fractious and splintered and as they picked up penalties they became vocal. The ref calmed the situation by stopping play to have a chat with captain Louie.
This seemed to settle Wanneroo down for a while, but it did nothing to reduce the error count. After a couple of scrums and penalties either way, play meandered on and the Dogs got a line out. The ball was spun out wide to their right, and although there was some dodgy handling on the way, it eventually reached Julian. He lifted the standard of play by beating three men to score and Mike kicked a magnificent conversion.
Wanneroo 12 – Associates 12
Wanneroo suddenly clicked into gear and started to play as they can. Carl, Bones, AJ and ‘G’ all made bruising runs that set the stage for a spectacular score, until a forward pass on the right wing saw that one die the death. Wanneroo’s pack made amends by taking a tight head scrum ball and giving it to their backs. They reciprocated by letting everybody have a jolly spree with it. Mitch Reilly hit it up, followed in tight succession by ‘G’ and Carl, before Mitch came full circle and had another gallop. Cade took possession and made a good break before feeding Mike who moved it on to George, who set the ruck ball after being tackled. Half back, Bryce, fed ‘G’ who set another good ruck ball for Mike. He fed Louie, who sucked in defenders then created another quality ruck ball for Carl to have a pick & go. The havoc and pandemonium continued unabated at the next breakdown, with Bryce feeding Bones who danced around before popping the ball to Carl on the run.
This unbelievable series of continuous, brilliant attacks finally ground to a halt, courtesy of a knock on by Carl. But no criticism intended to him, because it was amazing that a mistake hadn’t happened sooner. Especially, when you consider the number of unforced errors and knock on’s the guys had made earlier in the game.
Soaks got the scrum feed, but the Dogs pressure sent them back pedalling so fast, they couldn’t avoid giving a penalty away. Mike kicked the penalty and the ref blew his whistle.
Wanneroo 15 – Associates 12
FINAL SCORE: Wanneroo 15 – Associates 12
The last passage of play in this game was amazing to watch. But I have to say that in my sixty years of rugby experience I have never seen a roster of fifteen fly halves lining up and doing their make up, while they waited to receive the ball.
Well done to Wanneroo for coming back from the brink with a scintillating last minute, extravaganza of rugby brilliance.
The seconds have been under duress for most of the season. It’s a credit to the perseverance and resilience of captain Louie and his squad of die hard players that they have not only hung in, but have picked up towards the end of the season. They have been wonderfully supported by the thirsty thirds who have backed their club mates to the hilt.
THIRSTY THIRDS: WANNEROO 25 - ASSOCIATES 0 (forfeit)
I didn’t see this game, so had to rely on a wealth of information from various team members afterwards. They swore that all the detail below is dinkum.
The Roo Dogs were so eager to get to the bar that they decided to raise their game to previously unknown levels of mediocrity from the kick off. They raced into a 12 - 0 lead thanks to delightful tries by Jinkin’ James and Wily Wes.
The Roo Dogs then decided to rest on their laurels for a while, have a chin wag, reminisce about the weather and evaluate Boris's Brexit options.
During this quiet sojourn, Soaks dominated in the scrum, ran well in the loose, gave their backs endless possession to attack with and generally tried to play rugby. The Dogs did their best to be good hosts by chucking 50 / 50 passes that sprayed around like a mad woman’s s**t. Soaks scored to make it 12 – 12.
The visitors repaid the Dogs generosity - but not deliberately. Wanneroo belted into the boys from the posh end of town and forced them into rushing their play and making mistakes. The ref rewarded their efforts with a penalty against Soaks.
Josh kicked three points and the Dogs took the lead 15 – 12.
I should mention that Associates are top of the ladder and I believe they have only lost one game this season. But Wanneroo are no easy beat's and they did a magnificent job to match Associates high level game.
The game was pretty tight and the Roo Dogs had good rhythm and structure that enabled them to take the game to Soaks in all aspects of play. They fought hard, until a couple of desperate, missed tackles let Soaks in to score a try, totally against the run of play. The try was converted and the Dogs lost (with dignity) despite a valiant fight back.
FINAL SCORE: Wanneroo 15 – Associates 19
Just a few comments gleaned from the flatulent intelligentsia, in the bar after the game.
Hewy is under a cloud. It seems he deserted his post in the trenches to hang out with the gay guys in the backline, waiting for a glory ball. His forwards willingly gave buckets of blood, fighting to supply him with it and eventually sent it out on a platter for him. Hewy stood proudly in the dappled sunlight with girded loins, hands outstretched – and dropped the ball. The team was distraught because the try was a certainty. He only had eighty metres to run.
Shame on you Hewy.