If Round 15 against Uni was a dog-day afternoon for Neddies, Round 16 against Cottesloe was a Dogga-day afternoon.
Facing something of a late season injury crisis after the Uni game, coach Luke “Dogga” Doherty answered the SOS by strapping on his boots for his first gallop of the season.
Beside him in the second row was a bloke almost half his age in colt Sam Offer, making his second start in premier grade.
In a game in which the lead changed several times, things started well for Neddies when wrecking ball Anaru Rangi broke the line to set up winger Neihana “Nase” Christian for the opening try.
But Cottesloe struck back with a converted try and a penalty to edge in front 10-7. Kauri Cudd evened things up with a penalty goal before a bullocking run from boom prop Jermaine Ainsley set up Neddies for a second try and a 17-10 lead.
The Gulls nailed a penalty goal right on half time as Neddies went to the break 17-13 up.
Desperate for the points to stay in contention for the finals, Cottesloe started strongly in the second half, moving to a 23-17 lead with a converted try and another penalty goal.
Neddies needed some inspiration to change the scoring momentum – and it came from Jesse Toto, who set up Dylan Loversidge for a try under the sticks, much to the delight of The Third Half supporters. Kauri’s third successful conversion of the day put Neddies back in front 24-23, but it was short lived, as yet another Cottesloe penalty goal saw the Gulls up 26-24.
The scene was set for a thrilling finale. And it was the evergreen Joe “Peanut” Ritchie who provided the curtain call theatrics with an ultra-valuable bonus-point try. Not only did Peanut’s try seal a 29-26 win, but the bonus point also shot Neddies to the top of the table – level-pegging with Wests but with a superior for and against record.
This was a big win for Dogga and his team which exemplified the winning culture which has seen Neddies make the premier grade finals for 33 years in a row.
The penultimate round 17 on Saturday sees Neddies host Joondalup at The Foreshore. Amazingly, seven teams are still in contention to make the finals with just two games left.
Be there. Be loud. Be proud. GO NEDDIES!!