The big crowd who flocked to Bennett Park for Saturday’s top-of-the-table clash between Neddies and Wests told the story – something big was definitely brewing. And it had nothing to do with those old Lion Red flagons in Racehorse’s back shed.
After wins in colts, fourths and thirds and a draw in seconds, the premier grade team took the field with one question of the minds of the travelling Third Half faithful: Could Neddies avenge their last-minute loss to Wests back in round one and make it two from two at Wests’ new beachside digs?
Wests clearly had other ideas, with the home team snatching a converted try in the opening minutes to take an early 7-0 lead. But what followed was perhaps the most clinical rugby display of the season to date from Luke “Dogga” Doherty’s charges.
Winger Kauri Cudd, one of three colts in the Neddies starting line-up, opened the scoring for Neddies when he finished off a sublime kick from halfback Mike “Roo” Ruru. Roo showed his undoubted class soon after when he bagged the second of the afternoon and when fullback Dylan Loversidge sliced through to score the third five-pointer of the half, it enabled Neddies to go to the break with a handy 22-13.
Playing into the sun in the second half was a tougher proposition for Neddies, especially against a team who had no intentions of relinquishing top spot on the ladder at their house.
But like the Hurricanes on the big screen inside, Neddies refused to let Wests back into the game with some tough as teak defence and clever territorial play.
When birthday boy Shane Hemi scored the bonus point try, Neddies were up 29-13. And much to the delight of Dogga and Tommy Fearn, the team’s resolve stayed firm to the final whistle. While there were big-hearted efforts all over the park for Neddies the likes of Roo, Davis Tavita and big-hitting hooker Anaru Rangi were in a master class.
The five points saw Neddies leap-frog Wests into top spot, putting the boys well on track to an unprecedented 33rd consecutive finals appearance. What a record.
Saturday sees the rugby action return to The Foreshore as Neddies take a Soaks team desperate to stay in the hunt for the finals.
Be there. Be loud. Be proud. GO NEDDIES!!