Souths 3rd grade were saying good bye to dynamic tighthead Matt CeBall today and had spent the morning making final preparations for the game as well as wishing him bon voyage. A fan favourite and late starter to the game, he quickly firmed up his spot as first choice 3 if not first choice prop at the club in the five years he has played. His strength, fitness and hard-hitting style will be sorely missed.
As the 4th grade had players missing this week, so too did the 3rds. Fielding still a strong team, captain Kori Cooper once again had to fill in at 9 as they looked to make it 6 in 6.
Sticking to the ever-present trend of tense, tight affairs against Curtin both sides struggled for the ascendancy. Evenly matched across the field, it would become a forward battle at breakdown and set-piece which would dictate the today. With play centred around the half way, the first foray into Souths territory proved to be a valuable one for Curtin. Two quick penalty infringements put Souths on the back foot and on their own line they committed the cardinal sin of not facing up for the quick tap. Curtin crashed over from 5 yards to open the scoring. Behind for the first time in over a month, Souths responded. Great hustle from Matt CeBall, Ray Medway and stand in 9 Cooper, the ground out considerable yards. With almost their own first visit to the Curtin 22 it was brute forward strength which allowed Yuri Eti burrow his way over for a score. Converted by Nell, Souths were back in the hunt with a very important score. Maintaining the status quo was the plan, which unfortunately was shattered just before the half was out. Curtin skipped through for a late score to break the momentum gained after Souths equalising score, going in at half time 12-7 infront.
Key changes punctuated the second half. New faces in the pack allowed a renewed vigour to take it to their hosts. The 1st half had saw scrum advantage to their hosts but this session would be different and with pressure under control, Caleb Lamatoa had more time to put his back line space. An upbeat Dirk Penny had earlier gathered from his own side’s kick off and continued this good work with some great running. For all of their good play, Souths struggled to contain a lively Curtin backline which tested them from 9 to 15. Cooper wasn’t enjoying the same superiority he had the week before and was reverted to 8 to welcome the introduction of Ben Olislaegers. With his accustomed hunger for the game, his contribution helped steady the ship. It was to be a ship though that was slowly running out of team. For all their possession and hard running, Souths just couldn’t find their way through the Curtin line. A well taken penalty from Nell had put them within touching business and as their approach raised in quality and speed, Curtin’s first attack that made it into the Souths half resulted in a well taken penalty to maintain their advantage. With time-ticking, Souths made more changes but just couldn’t get the breakthrough much of their play had deserved. A late Curtin try shattered their dream of making it 7 from 7. Never disgraced, Souths came very close to continuing their fantastic run but it wasn’t to be.
Next week Souths travel to ARKS.