A small crowd was expected today given the news of the week and it being the NRL grand final, but the Spirit faithful were out in good form today with the famous hill being largely fill with approx. 2000 excellent people there in support, All hoping for a belter of a game after the Drua put the Spirit to the sword the week before.
The afternoon was again perfect with it being lovely in the sun and a touch cool in the shade – the ice-cream truck did great trade – everyone ready for the game to get under way.
Brisbane City looked slick and fast in the warm-ups with plenty of handling drills and set pieces being prepped at full speed, while the Spirit went about focusing as squad doing plenty of movement exercises before getting the rugby balls run through the hands.
The teams jogged down the hill, City first and the Spirit led by Perth Propertyhouse Junior Captain Aris Mazarakis putting the ball on the centre spot for City to take the kick off.
Matt Philip and Ian Prior being late withdrawals from the Spirit Team, the hoped 2nd row battle between Spirit’s Philip and Arnold v City’s Douglas and Korczyk had taken a slight dent.
The Spirit may have been smarting from last week, and went out to break Brisbane City.
Largely succeeded, apart from switching off for 10mins late in the second half – which led to a couple of good tries by City, but the Spirit bombed a couple of 5 pointers and it could have been a wider margin.
Brisbane City with the kick off, with a glorious open stanza of play with teams throwing bricks at each other in attack and defense.
Plenty of shouting from the field with early instructions being yelled by everyone to everyone while the players were getting settled – play shifting backwards and forwards in the center third of the field.
The hit ups were hammered in and the tackles were put on with a brilliant intensity.
Crowd sitting thinking “we are in for a big ‘un here!”
Perth began to hold territory, but that was quickly changed with City pressing just outside the attacking 22m looking for meters and space, unfortunately for City a high, loose pass – which was read perfectly by Clay Uyen – put Dylan Riley in a world of pressure and then a world of hurt as he was monstered by the hit of the day.
This sparked the Spirit who went pushing up field and were awarded a penalty for City taking out the half back (something they did repeatedly throughout the game and must be something that they are working on from a defensive pressure point of view, but it didn’t look good as it was blatantly done), quick tap by Ruru, City all within 10m and the hole was found, try duly scored near the up rights and Peter Grant with the extras. Opening points to the Perth Spirit.
In reply Moses Sorovi went on a burst with support, ball got kicked forward , the City players crowded the ball waiting for the ball in a string attacking position only for Clay Uyen again to pop up and in a criminally smooth act of pick pocketing pinched the ball from under the noses of the City player to negate in what looked like a try for all money.
To punish City for not taking their points when on offer, James V-A, stepped up taking the ball off a sweet pass from Brache to hold his line and accelerate like a smacked piglet through a gap, in what the purist would describe as a scything run to score the 2nd try of the match at about the 13th min.14-0
Crowd getting into the Spirit (yeah I did) of the day, cheering everything – the GGGooo ISIIiii!!! starting to take shape with each run – fun times.
Both teams again giving it a thrashing, with all parts of the game being contested especially the breakdowns, the breakdown battle was beautiful. Hodgo would’ve been smiling in the crowd watching on. Kane Koteka and Anaru Rangi putting in a showing!, neither are flashy players but getting through a mass of effective work and finding space.
The Battle continues with City pushing with rumbling effort – none of their forwards standing up and smashing it, more a combined unit driving phase after phase toward the try line, but Spirit holding firm and eventually relieving pressure.
The crowd join the players in taking a couple breathes, as the indicates about 12 mins left in the half.
Spirit get their hands on the ball and start move it about, short sharp passes between forwards and backs with Richie Arnold in the thick of it. Peni in possession with an arms span of space up the touch line, drives past Quade Cooper who gets a handful of Jumper, but cannot hold onto the leg drive and Peni is away, only to be superbly tackled by 15 Jayden Ngamanu. Ball is popped up, gets a bit messy, but is gathered by Arnold and the try is scored. Grant again with the conversation. 21-0.
Brisbane City seemingly relying too much on Quade Cooper to do something with the ball, but his space and time are being superbly closed down by Marcel Brache playing at 12 today, looks to be a case that Quade is now trying to probe edges with kicks over the Spirit line, but the ball is getting gathered up and the net result is that City has lost possession. City look good with ball in hand, particularly when the forwards are driving repeated short phases, are the outside backs running hard at space.
With about 5mins left in the half, City employ this and make fast meters taking play into the Spirit 22m with a combined effort, Uyen again with some one man defense holds up the City run, but only momentarily as City powerfully hammer the line. Forwards bundle it over (I think) its Salesi Manu scoring the try and QC converts to make it 21-7.
Here is me thinking that’s it for the half, but Peter Grant steps for run up the left side of the field from 10m behind the half way mark, none of the Spirit wanting to be left out follow in support. The tackle is made by who looks like Jayden Ngamanu (it’s the far side of the field from where I’m seated) – The young full back is a shining light for City today. The ball is spun from one side of the field to the other, Spirit players working hard again to get into a position to support the ball runner, with Peter Grant being on the end of the last pass to wrestle the ball over the line to claim the points off the movement that he started. Grant misses the kick from the edges. 26-7.
Restart and only a minute left when the ball is pounced upon by Rangi, and he runs it in, Spread to Isi (GGGooo IIssiii!) who charges it up, Brache with speed puts the City on the back foot, quick ball between Jooste and Uyen, back to Rangi and the Vice-Captain disappears to the corner, with a grin so big you could hear it. Conversion attempt not carrying this time and that will do us for the first half. 31-7
It is really beginning to look ominous for Brisbane as what started off as a highly contested effort for the first 20mins has fallen away and the Spirit with all the momentum and game control.
2nd half underway and Kane Douglas comes out firing for Brisbane, but that was it from Kane, was involved but didn’t standout, same could be said for Adam Korczyk.
Frisby on for Sorovi for Brisbane, Buick on for Jooste for Perth Spirit.
They must’ve have got a talking to as the City players had become largely invisible for the last 10mins of the first half. Everything Brisbane City with lines and loops being run in the back line AJ Alatimu and Chris Kuridrani looking much better. Attacking everything with speed…Yes please! This is what we came to see.
Brisbane building really good pressure for the first 10min, but unable to crack the Spirit defensive effort. Earn a scrum under the poles, the Brisbane Forwards put in a huge combined effort and the trundle the Spirit scrum back. City look to be in, only for the ball to break from behind the try line in Spirit hands.
Brave move, but fearing nothing Spirit run it and relieve pressure by getting to the just shy of the 10m, before getting brought down. Bit messy, but still City putting in the shove. Spirit make a break and in another example of everyone touching the ball are at the City 22.
There is a bit of gaining grounds for a few minutes over the center third of the field again with nothing happening until slick movement by the Perth team open a huge hole for OneHunga Havili who playing a great game at Lock drops it cold.
Still camped on the Brisbane City Line, Perth Spirit attack again with a stacked left flank, ball through all hands, but it gets muddled and loose. Lachlan Maranta playing on the right wing wearing 23 plucks the ball and takes off, the cross cover is working hard to catch Lachlan but he is away, skipping out of ankle taps to score. 31-14.
Matt O’Brein’s response was immediate and his first touch of the ball got his name on the scorers sheets.
Played out by Quade Cooper dropping the ball, Jermaine onto it instantly and a quick pop – Try! 38-14.
Although the defensive structure and scramble has clearly loosened up, it is still exciting rugby being played and the Property Powerhouse Perth Spirit are doing most of it now again. Anaru Rangi is everywhere, Kane Koteka is everywhere, Clay Uyen is everywhere.
Perth Spirit with another break and its Kane Koteka with ball in hand, pins his ears and goes for it, but Ed Fidow and his pace has been spoken about in other match reviews comes from a long way away over taking his own players to make the try saving tackle, but its reset and the Spirit forwards have a few cracks at the line drawing in defenders for Clay Uyen running into the receiver role hoisting a cross field kick over to Chance Peni who wrong foots the City 15, Jayden Ngamanu to stroll over the line comfortably. 45-14.
In all of this Ed Fidow is shown yellow, I think it for a couple of repeated team infringements, but I can’t be sure.
Minute later after another full team effort of running, driving and ball movement Ruru scores. 50-14.
15mins left and still plenty of running in the game, both teams still charging the line and big hits are still being put in. Richie Arnold again putting in a good shift and has been the pick of the Locks today.
Quade has been shut down.
Peter Grant and Marcel Brache formed an excellent pairing at 10/12 – smooth, calm and defensively strong. J Verity-Am asking questions of the City defense all day.
Just the ball movement – mass support and short, sharp passes by the Spirit unlocking Brisbane with a much better showing this week than last.
Changes being made now mostly front rowers from both sides.
Game is still loose and fast – All Spirit’s way and the forwards combining. Jermaine Ainsley with a go, show, draw and pass with leads to Mees Erasmus running in with 10mins left. A curling kick from the touch line sees Hamish Buick convert 57-14 now.
But this is where Brisbane City start to get structured and fast – 22 Maalonga Konelio now playing for Brisbane after a couple of seasons for the Spirit straightens off a set piece put Jayden Ngamanu into space, who delivers to 23 Lachlan Maranta – he scores 57-21, Quade making sure of the kick.
Maalonga looking really good on the field and combined well.
At the restart its Jayden again – jeez he is also quick – offloads to Quade who flicks to Ed Fidow who puts it down, Quade again 57-28.
All City now, really fast attack and good support – where has this been all game?
Chip over from Nick Frisby putting another run on for Lachlan Maranta who makes for the corner only to be reeled in by Marcel Brache – with less than 3mins on the clock and 57-28 up, to put the effort in to make the tackle shows solid character.
Spirit lads must have had a quick look at themselves and figured that they had another try in them. Isi Naisarani hammering up on a run, (this lad takes some putting down) forwards again combining to get Kane Koteka (I think) in the scorers book.
Final Score 62-28
Brisbane City rallied late in the game after a few substitutions, but it could also be noted that the Perth Spirit also took the collective foot off the gas.
Having said that – it was another fun game at the base of the hill, great fun to watch for the home crowd, lovely afternoon of Sunday rugby!
HIGHLIGHT POSITIONAL BATTLE:
There wasn’t one at the end of the day. The Spirit as a team, were too strong for Brisbane City. The game was played hard early on, and the breakdown was were the game was battled in the first half, but so much of the forward momentum was with the home team the battle fell away as the game went on.
Both sets of forwards enjoyed the scrum today and that was fun to watch.
Perth Spirit 62 (Michael Ruru 2, James Verity-Amm, Richie Arnold, Chance Peni 2, Anaru Rangi, Matt O’Brien, Mees Erasmus, Tevin Ferris tries; Peter Grant 5, Hamish Buick 1 conversions)
Brisbane City 28 (Salesi Manu, Lachlan Maranta 2, Ed Fidow tries; Quade Cooper 3, Nick Frisby 1 conversions)
at McGillivray Oval, Perth on Sunday 1 October 2017.
The Game Changer
Very early on the huge tackle by Clay Uyen on his opposite wing Dylan Riley, not only was it the hit of the day, but from that point on the Spirit opened up City’s defence and began to rack up a huge lead.
The G&GR MOTM
This was very difficult to judge today as a number of players had outstanding outings, with several putting the hand up for the award.
Although Isi Naisarani was named as the man of the match at the game.
It is my opinion and by the tightest of margins its between Anaru Rangi and Kane Koteka, that the MOTM goes to Anaru Rangi who had the best game that I’ve seen him play and completely overshadowed Andrew Ready.
Rangi was everywhere today – smashing front on tackles in defense, running lines with the ball, enjoying a battle in the scrums, setting up and scoring a try with brilliant support play.
Oz Baa Baa watch
Clay Uyen – Did you watch the game? Enough said. Jayden Ngamanu, yes he is contracted to the Reds, but he has only recently turned 20 and was the Brisbane City’s standout player today – highly worth mentioning.
Photos courtesy of Delphy: