There were plenty of new faces at The Foreshore on Saturday as Neddies took on Wests in brilliant conditions in the premier grade season opener. At stake was a chance to complete a clean sweep after victories to Neddies earlier in the afternoon to the 2nds, 3rds and 4ths.
For starters, there were three Colts players making their premier grade debuts in the form of winger Liam Van Der Westhuizen and replacements Tom Sheminant (prop) and Terrell Berryman (hooker). Others wearing the Royal Blue for the first time included hooker Anaru Rangi, loosie Chris Gorrie and five-eighth Jesse Toto. Even the coaching panel had some newness about it, with Luke “Dogga” Doherty making his debut as coach.
The game appeared to be going to script at half-time when Neddies went to the sheds 19-5 ahead after tries to Tevin Ferris, Anaru Rangi and Paddy Dellit, with Kauri Cudd nailing two conversions.
Half way through the second quarter there was no change to the score line as Neddies pushed for a bonus point try.
However, the game turned in the last quarter as Wests capitalised on the sin binning of Shane Hemi by referee Graham Cooper to score twice to tie the game up at 19 all. With time up, Neddies strung together more phases than the Kiwis scored runs in Sunday’s World Cup cricket final to get within sniffing distance of the Wests try line. But fate intervened when a turnover saw Wests swoop up the field to score again for a 26-19 victory.
Round 2 sees Neddies head to Hartfield Park to take on Kalamunda in a fortnight after the Easter break. Sadly the game will be without a familiar voice on the sideline following the recent passing of Bulls stalwart Jim Berry, a great friend of the Neddies club.