Match Report by “GaffaCHinO”
Brisbane City defied all odds to travel across the Nullarbor and come away with a defiant 26-21 win over a disappointing Perth Spirit side laden with Western Force players.
McGillivray Oval was picture perfect for an enjoyable Sunday afternoon of rugby in Perth. Long stands of trees line the edges of the park and on a normal day it’s hard to even tell you’re near the city. But for this occasion, a temporary pallisade was in place around the University Rugby Club’s ground and a crowd of over two thousand was building up on the grass hill to the west.
Ewen McKenzie was in attendance to watch Wallaby squad members Pek Cowan, Kyle Godwin, Matt Hodgson and James Horwill take to the field in this match. And with the trailers bearing the electronic scoreboard and clock having been towed into position and powered up, all was in readiness for the match to begin.
The Spirit went into the game as red hot favourites following their win over the Canberra Vikings last week but City had other ideas. City was dealt a massive blow before kick off with Samu Kerevi being ruled out with a leg injury but it didn’t seem to dampen their start to the game.
City had the better of the first 10 minutes and after a number of penalties against the Spirit, City winger Chris Kuridrani was over in the corner after a cut-out pass from flyhalf Jake McIntyre. Out near the sideline, McIntyre missed the conversion.
From the kick off, the Spirit were once again penalised for hands in the ruck. They were again on the back foot after a huge kick for touch from Nick Frisby to have a lineout 35m from the Spirit’s try line. Hot on attack, City was again awarded another penalty and again kicked for touch. City looked like they were about to score but a massive hit from winger Marcel Brache forced a knock-on resulting in the first scrum of the game.
Finally the Spirit was able to play some rugby and in a flash they were 35m out from the City try line but poor handling resulted in a turn over. A bit of back and forth was to follow but City struggled to get the ball out of their own half and when the Spirit was awarded a scrum 25m out from the try line they made it pay.
The young Spirit eightman Ross Haylett-Petty took the pill from the back of the scrum and passed it on to scrum-half Justin Turner. Turner cut out 2 players, sending the ball out to centre Junior Rasolea who broke 2 tackles and offloaded to Dillyn “Quade” Leyds. The flyhalf was in next to the posts and converted his own try to have the Spirit ahead 8-5 after 13 mins.
From the kick off the Spirit looked very dangerous with ball in hand but the last pass always seemed to go to ground or behind the player. Kyle Godwin was looking very good on attack and had two defenders on him for most of the day but this opened space on his outside which saw Rasolea and Dane Haylett-Petty make huge metres. The Spirit forwards were well on top and when they mauled the ball 15m from a lineout, hooker Heath Tessmann strolled over to score the Spirit’s second.
City again were the beneficiaries of penalties against the Spirit and Frisby made them pay with his kicking for touch. Horwill made a 25m charge up the middle. City had a good platform from a 5m lineout and their man-mountain loosehead prop Pettowa Paraka was able to get over the line for his first try.
The ball went back and forth with both teams trying to win the kicking duel, and then out of nothing Godwin was able to draw in two players and offload to Leyds. Darting 40m around 2 players, Leyds bagged his second try of the game 4 mins before halftime.
But the Spirit then switched off. City got a lineout 15m out. After a penalty against Perth, Paraka was over for some double meat just before half time and City found themselves down by only 3 points. Considering they didn’t have much of the ball it was a very good effort.
The second half began just like the first with the Spirit being penalised multiple times but this time Matt Hodgson found himself in the bin. City again went to the lineout that had worked so well for them in the first half but this time the Spirit was able to hold them out. After winning a scrum they then cleared the ball out of their own half.
This is where most of the rugby stopped with the Spirit getting continually penalised but with City unable to capitalise. City were kept in the game by Frisby’s boot which relieved a lot of pressure for his team all game.
After a bit of back and forth, Godwin was able to break the line and put a grubber kick in behind the City fullback. He was unable to regather the ball and knocked it on 5 metres out from the try line. City cleared from the resulting scrum but the Spirit attacked again down the wing and, just as they looked set to score, they turned over the ball. City made them pay by going 90 metres to score what would be the match winning try to Junior Laloifi after another great kick from Frisby.
Leading 26-21, the City defence was under a huge amount of pressure with wave after wave of Perth attacks but the story of the day was the same. The last pass just wouldn’t stick or go to hand and Frisby’s boot relieved all the pressure.
With 5 mins to go and trailing by 5, the Spirit looked to have scored the likely match winner after Junior Rasolea broke several tackles to offload inside to Dane Haylett-Petty with the line open. But just as the solid 2,300 crowd jumped for joy, the assistant ref’s flag was lifted as he adjudged that Junior had his little toe in touch.
The last 5 min was just like the rest of the game with the Spirit sending wave after wave at the City defence. Only a metre from the line, they looked set to score but turned the ball over again and fittingly Frisby kicked the ball out into touch to win the match.
The game changer
Junior Rasolea turning the ball over 10m out from the try line and City going 90m to score. The Spirit players’ heads dropped and City started to believe they could win.
Man of the match
Nick Frisby was good with what ball City had, but his kicking was instrumental in his team’s win.
Players to watch
Fullback Dane Haylett-Petty, who was causing all sorts of headaches for City. Chris Kuridrani, who gave City plenty of go-forward on attack but needs to work on his defence if he is to make the next step up.
Perth Spirit: 1. Pek Cowan, 2. Heath Tessmann, 3. Tetera Faulkner, 4. Sam Wykes (c), 5. Rory Walton, 6. Brynard Stander, 7. Matt Hodgson, 8. Ross Haylett-Petty, 9. Justin Turner, 10. Dillyn Leyds, 11. Marcel Brache, 12. Kyle Godwin, 13. Junior Rasolea, 14. Luke Morahan, 15. Dane Haylett-Petty. Reserves: 16. Robbie Abel, 17. Francois van Wyk, 18. Oliver Hoskins, 19. Corey Thomas, 20. Richard Hardwick, 21. Ian Prior, 22. Zack Holmes, 23. Va’a Mailei.
Brisbane City: 1. Pettowa Paraka, 2. Andrew Ready, 3. Phil Kite, 4. Marco Kotze, 5. James Horwill, 6. Dave McDuling (c), 7. Michael Gunn, 8. Tim Buchanan, 9. Nick Frisby, 10. Jake McIntyre, 11. Harry Parker, 12. Rex Tapuai, 13. Toby White, 14. Chris Kuridrani, 15. Matthew Feaunati, Reserves 16. David Feao, 17. Matt Mafi, 18. Sam Talakai, 19. Brad Wilkin, 20. Adam Korczyk, 21. Jack Mullins, 22. James Dalgleish, 23. Junior Laloifi.
Perth Spirit: 21
Dillyn Leyds 12′, 36′
Heath Tessmann 22′
Dillyn Leyds 13′, 36′ (2/3)
Matt Hodgson (YC) 44′ to 54′
Brisbane City: 26
Chris Kuridrani 2′
Pettowa Paraka 31′, 40′
Junior Laloifi 65′
Jake McIntyre 31′, 65′ (2/4)
Jake McIntyre (0/1)
Referee:: Graham Cooper