Nelson Dale was one of many Rams supporters who headed to Leichhardt Oval to cheer on his NRC team, and put together this great report for us.
Both the Sydney Stars and the Greater Sydney Rams started strong in front of the 2600 strong crowd, majority of which appeared to be travelling Rams supporters. It was a windy affair at Leichhardt Oval but that did nothing to slow the barrage of tries at either end of the paddock.
The Stars earned a 44-32 win against the winless Rams, keeping them in touch with the undefeated competition leaders; the Canberra Vikings and Brisbane City.
Southern Districts youngster Matt “Tekken” Teki replaced winger Ben Batger for the Rams, filling the role of the kicker over Jai Ayoub. His nerves were palpable from the stands, being court out of position and making a few errors with ball in hand, unfortunately not emulating his slick Shute Shield performances. His precision from the boot brought a breath of fresh air to the Rams, providing a big lift in confidence, slotting 4 of 4 attempts.
Sydney Stars’ 104KG winger Harry Jones, demonstrated his blistering place, employing some razzle dazzle to score a hat-trick of tries on home turf. In 1993, two years before Jones was born, the Counting Crows produced the lyric; “We all want to be big stars, but we don’t know why and we don’t know how” in their hit ‘Mr. Jones’. I think we can all agree that if this Mr Jones continues to mount performance like this, he will become a big rugby star in the future.
The game got underway in a see-sawing fashion, with only 7 minutes on the clock before Jones demonstrated his wizardry, managing to fight off Dewet Roos, whilst stayying in the field of play and diving over for his first try of the encounter.
The Rams hit straight back, after five-eight Ayoub found a gap in the defensive line, making the final pass to Jed Gillespie who scored under the post. Teki made his first chance in the match count, converting the try to edge the Rams ahead 8-5 after 10 minutes.
Pressure mounted by the Rams’ forward pack saw Kelly Meafua bag himself a meat pie from close range. The conversion took the Rams out to a 16-5 lead.
The Rams continued to launch attacking assaults through Paul Asquith and captain Jed Holloway, however scrambling defence managed to diffuse the pressure.
Mr Jones bagged his second of the encounter in the 25th minute, in an almost identical fashion to his first. McGregor missed his second conversion of the day, whilst copping so,e slack from the travelling Horned Army in the stands, 16-10.
The boys in orange looked set to extend their lead with some marvellous movement of the ball, yet errors started to plague them close to the try-line.
Stars’ prop Tom Robertson capitalised on a dominant driving maul on the half hour mark, dotting the ball down for a 5 pointer. McGregor made no mistake this time as the Stars regained the lead, 18-16.
An enormous kick from Asquith saw the ball travel from his own 40 metre line before crossing the touch line 5 metre out from the home sides try-line. The Stars’ clearance kick was fumbled by Brad Curtis, as the locals yet again escaped threatening offence, unscathed.
The Rams suffered a big blow to their attacking prowess as Ayoub left the field at the 36th minute mark due to an injury.
As the shadow of half time approached, a penalty saw the Stars opt for a scrum in the Rams red-zone and a well directed unders line allowed Andrew Robinson to shred the defence to score under the posts. The conversion took the home side to a 26-16 lead in the final play of the half.
The Sydney Stars continued their run of tries through another driving maul early in the second half. Jordan Tuapou was the beneficiary of the home sides forward dominance on this occasion and the kick went unconverted. The forwards pressure also saw the Greater Sydney side go down to 14 men, due to an infringement at the maul.
The 5th Stars’ try in a row came in the 52nd minute, seeing Jones complete his hat-trick as he yet again scored in the corner off the back of a Tom Kingston pass. McGregor’s struggles from the boot saw him miss again and the Stars now had a 20 point buffer between themselves and their Sydney rivals.
Some individual brilliance from Michael McDougall saw him splint the Stars defence to cross over for a try. Teki continued his 100% conversion rate from the boot, providing hope for the Rams who were now down 36-24.
Christian Kagiassis put the final nail in the coffin for the Rams, going over from close range.
The visitors had the final say in the match, scoring potentially the try of the round. With nothing to lose, Asquith split the line on a kick return, passing to McDougall who ran a further 25 metres, dishing it off to Holloway who palmed one on his way to running in a try. Teki yet again demonstrated one of the reasons for his selection, slotting the conversion from the sideline.
It was too little, too late for the Rams.
Sydney Stars 44 (H Jones 3, T Robertson, A Robinson, J Tuapou, C Yassmin tries; J McGregor 2, C Kagiassis cons) defeated Greater Sydney Rams 32 (J Gillespie, K Meafua, M McDougall, J Holloway tries; M Teki 4 cons)
The game changer came in the 67th minute as Kagiassis crossed the try line to put the Stars lead out of reach for the visitors.
The GAGR MOTM
Each Stars’ players served as a cog in the wheel that rolled the Rams at Leichardt Oval. It was the fashion in which both the forwards and backs worked in unison that earned the Sydney side the ‘W’, however Harry Jones did brilliantly to finish off three tries and for that reason he has earned himself the MOTM.
OZ Baabaa watch
Big Jed Gillespie got through a mountain of work for the visiting Rams, he bagged himself a try, attacked strongly throughout the 80 minutes and was a force to be reckoned with in defence. Brendan Hartmann was another solid performer for the losing Rams.