The 1st grade squad has been building throughout the season with solid performances against all the top six sides and victories in the games we should win so it was about time we achieved a victory over one of the top four teams in recent years Southern Districts, who had experienced some mixed fortunes so far this season. With two more debutants taking the field for the try colours in backrower Luke Cullinane and fullback Will Maddocks, there was great anticipation that a strong performance today could see us in or on the edge of the top six.
The early passages went according to script as we weathered an early storm from the Rebels before creating some very enterprising attack of our own. On the back of another attacking raid, Ned Yeoman’s pass was knocked down by the South’s fullback only to roll backwards into the South’s in goal and a quick thinking James Field fell on the ball to open the scoring. The score remained at 7-0 for some time and whilst we mounted a number of other scoring chances, poor decisions at crucial times cost us dearly whilst at the other end, South’s capitalized on our errors to post their first points in a cheap try to take the score to 7-7.
We continued to play football but not the conditions so well and having only entered the South’s 22m twice in a whole half, we were not playing in the right areas of the field. The battle for territory finally took its toll when South’s beat our outside backs with a bounce pass and in an effort to adjust defensively, we left the inside man unmarked and South’s crossed for their second on the stroke of half time. 7-14 would have been a cruel score line going into half time given the defensive effort the Beasties had put in which could not be faulted but from a lineout near the South’s line, the forwards rolled the ball forward and then after sending the ball midfield, Rowan Perry snuck over the line from a ruck under the South’s posts and the conversion from Archie King saw the score locked at 14-14 at half time.
South’s came out in the second half and played smart field position which ultimately drew an error from a kick which was charged down and South’s swooped on the ball to score and lead 14-21 early in the second half. The game was then on a knife edge for some time before Tim Buchanan took matters into his own hands and slammed the ball down next to the post pad to bring the score to 21-21 with less than 20 minutes to play.
Momentum seemed to have swung in the Beasties favor with some promising chances created only to see poor decisions again made at the crucial time and pressure relieved for South’s. The Rebels on the other hand used their experience of finals footy to get the ball in the right areas and earn two crucial penalties in kicking range and take the score to 21-26. With time on the clock, Easts side managed to build pressure again near South’s line but an ill directed chip kick again let South’s off the hook. Moments later Rowan Perry who was dragged down 20cms from the line and a scrum was quickly called….Easts feed. A sloppy delivery from the scrum then saw Archie King get turned over only to see South’s drop the ball they had just one and as Rowan Perry swooped on the loose ball 30cms short of the try line, it managed to slip out of his hands as he dived across the line for the definitive play of the match. The referee called knock on and with 2 minutes remaining, South’s earned a scrum penalty and managed to close out the game to win the one that got away.
A significant improvement in defence from the week before but a number of poor decisions with the ball and not playing in the right areas really cost us a game that we did everything else to win. Having now played all teams in the competition, the group know that we have been there with all of the top six teams in the games we’ve played but the difference between winning and losing these games is a very thin line at this level. The schoolboy errors need to disappear along with the poor decisions.
We will stick it to Randwick on June 24th if we get this right.