RESERVE GRADE MATCH REPORT
by the Lineside Lion
Reserve grade’s surge of form was derailed by a determined Wanneroo outfit at Kingsway and 2nds paid the price for failing to play in every minute of the game.
This was evident from the start when at the first scrum the Lions realised they’d started with only 14 on the field unwittingly ceding Wanneroo a man advantage. The referee similarly started in a numerically challenged fashion forgetting to ensure he had touch judges ready to go then not letting the match proceed further until his demands for assistance were met. In truth, the ref dropped the ball on both counts here but it only proves that the men in the middle are only human too and as prone to error as any of us, if exposed to more criticism for it.
The Seconds showed some good shape in attack early. Their backline was solid with threats across the board with Jack Holt, Nathan Lamatoa, Jamie Fairbairn, Ily Stone, Reece Delamere and Mike Clifton in the line and Ben Carr at the back. A well timed run saw Ily break down the outside channel but he couldn't' get the pass away to Trigger and the ball went over into touch.
In slippery conditions the team that played the whistle had the advantage as the referee let several plays that looked to have been knock-ons run their course allowing both sides advantages at various stages and those quickest to react took the best advantage of these.
Captain Joe Claes put in another honest tradesman-like performance and the back 3 of Joe, Sheldon and Charlie Pinkerton were industrious as ever.
At times both sides looked to move the ball quickly from penalties with Tomasi Bulunakoro showing all the natural athleticism expected of Fijian rugby making a mockery of the wet conditions by running with ball in one massive mitt taunting the opposition with it on several occasions.
Nathan Lamatoa may look like a good gust of wind might have taken him out of the defensive line at times but certainly not the opposition inside centre who Nathan made a wonderful falling tackle on, letting the man’s momentum carry over him to introduce the 12’s face to the ground direct behind him. “Face, meet dirt. Dirt, this is face”. I cannot say that face was pleased with the introduction, although dirt seemed indifferent to it at best.
One of Wanneroo’s most industrious was their No 8 who could most charitably be described as not really being over-weight, only under-tall.
When the Royal Society, pre-eminent amongst Western scientific organisations at the time, were first presented with a platypus, they though it a hoax, a specimen cobbled together from various parts of other critters, part duck, part beaver. So too could the Wanneroo No 8 be described. The body of a prop, the footwork of a full back and the hands of a half back he proved a most troublesome opponent and caused the Lions no end of grief.
Such a man as this was only going to do one thing close to the try line off the scum base and run at the line he did. Given his rotundness and his physiological natural proclivity to roll he bounced and rolled out of several tackles to go over for the hosts.
Whilst Nathan survived the gusting winds his kicks did not and the breeze caught his restart and pushed it long. The ensuing scrum restart saw the Lions defence hold off the attacking line and cede them too much ground allowing them to make easy yards and then cross in the far club house end corner.
Again, Nathan misjudged the wind which was proving fickle, changing in both strength and direction however the second scrum restart saw the Lions scrum gain a penalty advantage and the Lions retain possession.
As for the scrum: for the uninitiated it is a foreboding place, full of dark places and chicanery where sane men and those with a refined sense of smell fear to tread. Unless you have lived through the experience it can be nigh impossible to understand what occurs in the front row and even then, standing on the sidelines, it is guess work at best as to what actually occurred in any given scrum.
However, standing on the outside looking in, the Lions set piece performed admirably and moved from parity to advantage over their heavier opponents as the game bore on allowing the Lions good set piece platform.
Jack Holt provided good crisp service from the base of these platforms and from a series of rucks down the far side released Joe Claes who managed to slip a ball to Trigger on the far wing who scooted over to open the Lions’ account.
After the break the Lions looked threatening and began to create space around the centre channel with all players muscling up at the ruck space. Iuean Bowse looked particularly dangerous when he could find some space
Lions scrum took a tight head deep in Wanneroo’s corner. Jamie Fairbain ghosted around Ily who nicely held his line and deftly return the pill to Jamie who found Iuean lurking on the wing. Iuean muscled over for the try.
As Wanneroo re-started play Kristian Williams copped a red card for a tip tackle on a Wanneroo player although it was hard to see exactly what happened as this occurred in the midst of a grinding passage of play. Nevertheless, he was shown the bench and there he stayed as the Lions then ended as they had started, a man down.
With the Lions a man down Wanneroo managed to cross over for another try and close out the game 24-10.
The players were disappointed with their effort after the game and this was reflected in Coach Junior Tairea’s post match address. “You can’t take any senior game lightly” You can’t come in thinking “We’ve got this””.
However, for all that, there were lots of positives. “The fact that we held out being a man down to be within 2 tries was good and the back line did show some real form. We just fell into the trap of going missing for 5 or 10 minutes and they jumped us and you can’t do that in senior rugby”.
“Still, there were some good individual performances out there. The scrum did very well and when we got back to our plan we started dominating the ruck contests and got on the front foot we looked good”.
The Reserves now have the competition bye to re-group as they take on Perth Bayswater at home in two weeks.