Several elderly Third Half supporters had to have their pacemakers recalibrated on Saturday after yet-another heart-stopper at The Foreshore. The end result was a bonus point 31-28 win over Wests, which has kept Neddies in second spot on the ladder just one point adrift of Cottesloe.
Behind that score line was another 80 minutes of high-drama in which Neddies looked out for the count with 10 minutes to go, only to storm home to steal the points in another show of great heart and character.
Things started well enough for Neddies with a converted try to prop Joe “Peanut” Richie and a penalty goal to playmaker Fred Tuua giving the home team a 10-0 buffer.
But by halftime, both Fred and fellow backline star Ryan “For Crying out” McLeod were both on the sideline as Neddies’ backline injury woes threatened to turn into a crisis.
Desperate for a win to stay in the four, Wests pounced with a try to capture an 11-10 early in the second half after slotting two first-half penalty goals. Another try and a penalty goal later, Wests had stretched their lead to 21-10. The momentum was with the boys from Scarborough and a circuit breaker was required for Neddies to get back into the match.
It came in the form of inspirational Luke “Dogga” Doherty, who narrowed the scores to 21-17 with a try, converted by halfback Mike Botes.
However, another converted try to Wests saw the visitors regain their 11-point lead. Down 28-17 with 10 minutes left on the clock, the question was posed in The Third Half corner, could Richie “Rat” Naylor save the day again after pinching five tries in his past two outings?
Suddenly the hungry Rat made a break up the guts and fed the speed in the form of Alvin “Stardust” Lau, who scored under the posts. Neddies were back in the game at 28-14, but time was the enemy.
In a dramatic finale, Neddies won possession and sent the ball wide to speed merchant Jake Wilson, who looked up to see a 60 metres of turf between himself and the Wests try line. To the delight of the Neddies faithful, Jake defied the clutches of a couple of sprawling Wests defenders to streak down the sideline and detour under the posts. The conversion gave Neddies a 31-28 win which left coach Tony Ball ecstatic.
“The boys were incredible today,” Ball told RugbyWA. “To lose the midfield and a few others to injury along the way says a lot about our depth and character. That was all heart at the end.”
Round 14 sees Neddies back at The Foreshore hosting a Rockingham team on a high after thrashing Wanneroo at Kingsway on Saturday. Bring your blood pressure pills.
In other games, Wests were too good in Reserve Grade, winning 16-7, Neddies had a good win in 3rd Grade 36-5 and dominated 4th Grade 45-0.
5th Grade had to forfeit to due to lack of front rowers, so please, if you have any larger friends who can help hold up the scrum, please send them down to the Cavaliers.