Premier grade kicked off their grand final rematch against Soaks in mid-summer conditions on Sunday as many of the Neddies juniors turned out for family day on the Foreshore and the legendary Third Half supporters club had their first event of the season.
With quite a few new faces, one of the immediate challenges facing coach Tony Ball was to get his combinations working.
With Neddies playing into the sun, the first half was a bit of an arm wrestle, with one of the new Neddies faces, five-eighth Fred Tuua, landing a penalty goal as the teams went to break locked at 3-3.
The game opened up in the second half, which was also marked by the return to premier grade of former skipper Joe “Peanut” Richie, whose facial hair stylist had obviously been watching reruns of Pulp Fiction.
Inside centre Ryan “for crying out” McLeod registered for the first try of the season for Neddies when he crossed under the posts after Fred had sliced open the Soaks defence. Fred’s conversion put Neddies in front 10-3 and the supporters in The Third Half corner were starting to stir.
However, the visitors struck back with a converted try to level the scores after capitalising on a Neddies penalty kick which landed on the wrong side of the touchline.
It was another of the new faces, the bearded Davis Tavita, who regained the lead for Neddies when he bamboozled the Soaks defence for a gem of a five-pointer.
Amid the try-scoring action, the obvious question was being posed: Where was the hungry Rat?
Obviously picking up on the vibes, the Rat (aka Richie Naylor) was on the sniff. Snatching he ball close to the line, Rat launched himself across the chalk for one of his trademark tries.
At 20-10, Neddies were generating plenty of momentum, but it was Soaks who came back for the last try of the match for a final score-line of 20-15.
While coach Ball will take plenty of positives out of the game, things don’t get a lot easier in Round 2 as Neddies head across the Swan River to take on Palmyra at Tompkins Park.
With new coach Andre and the addition of six new players, the Reserve Grade showed some promising signs early in their clash with reigning Premiers Associates on the weekend. Led by Captain James Oddie the team took to the park in what were trying temperatures in excess of 30 degrees.
Neddies started off well with Flyhalf Davis Tavita finding gaps in the Associates backline. Ferocious tackling by Flanker Rob Carter forced several turnovers, allowing the boys in Blue to counter attack and put some points on the board. Returning from a stint in Rugby League, Joe Skipper was outstanding with ball in hand, making ground with every carry he had. Unlucky to be on the receiving end of a Yellow Card after a try saving tackle, Jordan Fantasia showed some blistering pace and footwork out wide to run in for a try.
Neddies took a decent 18-7 lead into half time, however they knew Soaks wouldn’t let the heat get to them and will come out firing after the break. Unable to hold on to to lead, a lack of discpline and 2 yellow cards, the Neddies boys ran out of steam, relinquishing their lead late in the 2nd half and narrowly losing the game 30 – 25. Although disappointed with the loss, the boys are confident they can take a lot of positives out of the game, with many fresh faces, a bit of time and hard work at training is needed.
Best for Nedlands were 3. Joseph Skipper 2. Jordan Fantasia 1. James Oddie.
Try scorers were Mike Botes, Jordan Fantasia and Davis Tavita.
A young Under 20s squad took on reigning Premiers Associates and were unfortunately beaten 84 – 5.
After a decent preseason The Thirsty Thirds were eager and excited about the first round of competition against their arch rivals Soaks! With a few off season transfers including a reshuffle in the coaching department with Aussie Bob stepping up in the Ranks to the covenant Head Coach Role and Alvin Lau moving into a deputy assistant player co-coach and backline co-coordinator the boys were ready to start their journey to a 4 peat in the third grade competition.
With the game being shifted to a Sunday it meant a clash with the Big Brother Auditions that Aussie Bob had progressed into the third round so left the boys without the head coach for the game. As usual for this time of the year Sunday was a stinking hot day more suited to cricket but the thirds were pumped ready to go. After a good short but sharp warm-up the season kicked off with a terrible start consisting the kick off being dropped (in all 4 out of 4 were dropped so will be an item to focus on for Thursday ) and a penalty from the first scrum with Soaks putting the ball out 10m from the line. The Neddies forwards rallied stealing the lineout and the backs got us back down the business end of the field only to be stopped by Soaks killing the ball. After a few wave patterns and more killing of the ball by the opposition it became evident that this would be a constant issue for the game and would result in 2 yellow cards for Soaks.
The first points of the season went to who else but Chris Naylor in typical fashion dotting down for a 5 pointer from a pick and go allowing him to have a shave after Lakey’s brilliant idea of No shaving until you have scored a try. From the subsequent dropped kick off it became evident that the Neddies Scrum was far superior and pushed Soaks back for the first of many tight heads for the day. Neddies set piece play proved to be dominant with both the lineout and scrums winning the oppositions feed at will. A break by New Mid Field combination of the Otago boys Lakey and Macca provided some go forward ball yet again stopped by Soaks killing the ball. The resulting penalty allowed Neddies to setup a ruck on the line with Alvin crashing over like a prop forward to score his first of the day. With the constant opposition infringements the game was not able to flow as freely as Neddies would have liked and slowed the game plan and patterns we had trained on Thursday.
Neddies went to the break 12-3. After few words by the ever young Trefor Thomas the second half began again with Neddies set piece dominating the play but unable to capitalize on this advantage due to any go forward being killed by the opposition. Some great tackling and running by both Matt Suter and the Centers kept the opposition on the backfoot. A penalty again for killing the ball gave Nedlands a lineout 35m out which Alvin spotted a gap and dotted down for his second of the day.
A couple subs were then made and despite being camped inside the opposition half for the remainder of the day Neddies were unable to capitalize any further due to both repeat infringing and handling errors. Final Score 19-3 Neddies . The score line doesn’t reflect Nedlands dominance as any go forward ball was killed by Soaks, positives for the day were the set piece and defense -keeping Soaks from crossing the line but some work will need to go into kickoffs.
Points for the Day go to 3: Suter, 2: Marty McDermot, 1 : Paul Baker
If William Webb-Ellis had intended rugby to be played in tropical heat he would have gone to Rugby School in the Bahamas, not in England. Fortunately, the fighting fourths showed true character to bash out a good win coming back to score late in the game to seal it. Good use was made of the large squad idea with several of last year’s thirds playing a big part.
There was no wind to play with or into and the first half was an even tussle. Life is not pretty for the big fellas when its >30 degrees so hats off to all those in the small number brigade for toughing out the many scrums we created with dropped balls. The scrum claimed 2 tightheads, although one was due to the Soaks half putting the ball in on the wrong side of the scrum! (Actually a Neddies junior, I think coached by Hans!!)
Nedlands first try came form a good bust by “Mack truck” Tawhai and some good support. The move started with an excellent scrum, most notably from the “first time I have ever pushed hard when playing lock” – Neil Smith. Hopefully we will get more of that push from Neil before he travels. There were plenty of mistakes made in the first up performance, but the best
part was that the team stuck at it and finished strongly. We were able to give a lot of players game time and it was great to welcome some new men to the fold. Julia Gillard would have been proud of the debut to rugby of everybody’s new favourite ranga, Ian Ryan as he nearly sneaked in at the corner for a try with his first touch.
The game was a genuine battle against a good opponent and it was touch and go towards the end. It took a coaching masterstroke and the introduction of Mitch Lake late in the game that gave the final thrust for a cracking try to Hayden Classen to seal the points 22-15. Winning with character sets us up nicely for the rest of the season.
Well, like a 60 year old prostitute coming out of retirement the cavaliers blew out the Cobb webs and got down to business in the weekend. With half our squad missing on unsanctioned sabbaticals only 11 cavs showed for duty hinting the season has started too soon. 30+deg and no forward reserve’s took its toll with the first loss of the season. But in true cavalier fashion we never stopped throwing the ball around and scored some great tries. For soaks it was their first win over us in three years so they were as happy as Joseph Fritzel on fathers day. A special thanks to the players that filled in for us without them we would not of had a team.
Final results them slightly more than us. Until next week stay black, stay deadly.