Saturday’s match against Wanneroo – which saw Neddies complete the first round unbeaten – had a familiar tone to it on a couple of fronts. Just like in the last home game against Wests, Neddies racked up all the early points against the Roo Dogs and looked set to coast to an easy victory. But like Wests, Wanneroo hit back to take the game down to the wire. There were some familiar names on the scoresheet on Saturday as well as Neddies bagged three early tries for a 15-0 lead. Those tries were scored by regulars Saul Chase, Ben “No stop for smoko” Titoko and Richie “Rat” Naylor, who made good use of the roo-bars for his five-pointer. But while entertaining, the open style of rugby being played by Neddies also gave Wanneroo the opportunity to chance their arm. And when the Roo Dogs capitalised on an intercept for their second try, the momentum was all of a sudden with the visitors, who trailed by just 12-15 at the break. Neddies tightened things up in the second half and that approach was rewarded when skipper Luke “Dogga” Doherty crossed for a bonus-point try which put Neddies out to 22-12. But a converted try and a penalty later, the Roo Dogs found themselves back on even terms and looking dangerous at 22-22. By now the question was being asked on the sideline: could Wanneroo be about to knock off Nedlands for the first time ever in a competition game (with the Roo Dogs only ever victory over Nedlands being in a semi-final)? And would the lack of a specialist kicker – due in part to almost a full team of players being absent in Bali at Paul Badham’s wedding – bring down the curtain on Neddies unbeaten run in 2012? Other chatter on the sideline including talk of an unconfirmed mid-week sighting of Rex Julian in Budapest at a hardware conference. However, Sam “RaRa” Rarasea had other ideas. Sensing the historic significance of the occasion, the dreadlocked Neddies back and Milli Vanilli karaoke impersonator sliced through to score under the posts. With Nate Roberts producing a rare success in the goal kicking lottery, Neddies were back in front at 29-12, which is where things finished up. No rugby during this weekend due to the bye. That’s right, another one.
All week the coaches had been telling us that this was the most important game of round one. Second placed Neddies knew that winning this match was crucial if they wanted to finish the season on the top of the table. But the boys also knew that third placed Wanneroo weren’t going to make it easy for them, and the truth of this was evident right from the kick off. A ferocious physical battle ensued and the first victim of it was Neddies prop Paul Baker with a badly dislocated left shoulder. Wanneroo must have been relieved to see our first choice loose head prop leaving the field. But the Roo Dog rejoicing was replaced with yelps of terror when the ground shook and a massive shadow darkened the sky as ‘Big Ollie’ Carmichael rumbled onto the park to take over propping duties for the Nomads. Though it was a tough battle, Neddies held an early advantage in the forwards and this momentum finally brought them close to the Wanneroo try line. Leading by example Marty ‘ Captain Courageous’ Fitzsimon dove across the stripe for Neddies first try in the 6th minute, converted successfully by Tony ‘The Brat’ Mladenovski. However Neddies small lead did not last long as Wanneroo stepped on the gas to record a try of their own and bring the score back to 7-5. Mid way in the first half, and ‘the Brat’ had the opportunity to increase our lead by another 3 points through a penalty. The kick was successful and, from the restart the Nomads fought through again, moving from break down to break down maintaining their hard drilled structure. In the 20th minute Hayden ‘ the Hammer’ Smith made an amazing run cutting in and out of the of the Wanneroo backline before finally cruising in from the sidelines to score under the post, conversion successful. Once again, Wanneroo came back with a try of their own within minutes. The two teams were clearly very evenly matched and, going into half time, the score line read 17-10 to the Nomads.
The second half began and, from the kick off, things just didn’t seem to go our way. The Wanneroo backline were menacing. Their huge centres had pace as well as size and this destructive combination was causing real problems for our defence. But Neddies hung on bravely and the score remained unchanged until midway in the second half when unceasing Wanneroo attacking pressure eventually resulted in them scoring their 3rd unconverted try. Thus, with the score at 17-15, the game hung in the balance. At this point Nomads cause was not advanced as ill-discipline led to them giving away a string of penalties that allowed Wanneroo to move close to the Nomads try line once again. The game was coming to a close and Nomads were fighting to the last to repulse the Wanneroo onslaught. However it was not to be Neddies day as a final Wanneroo attack found an overlap out wide that allowed them to cross for the final match winning try. Final score 20-17 to Wanneroo.