It was a picture-perfect day for rugby at Memorial Park in Toowong as Wests were led out by their Under 11 Gold side and the Doggies were celebrating the 76th Premier cap of one of their players (76, something to behold at Wests).
GPS were looking to hit back after a disappointing last start loss to the Tigers at home, and they certainly started this match with their intentions clear. Hard running, hard hitting and crisp hands seemed to be the game plan from GPS as they demonstrated why they are firmly entrenched in the top four. The scoring was opened early through a try to winger Todd Winkley. The left side flyer was the beneficiary of a deft cross-field kick from Pat Smith, and an even better bounce, to plant the ball down in the corner.
The Gallopers continued their strong start with increased aggression at the breakdown, forcing the game to be played in Wests’ own half. However, it was this aggression that also gifted the Dogs with an opportunity to go on the attack when they committed to many numbers to the ruck. Turning defence into attack, the Dogs seized an opportunity down the short side and finally breached the Old Boys’ half. This seemed to wake the Bulldogs from their slumber and they managed to gain some rhythm in their attack.
The Gallopers’ defence proved up to the task and Smith’s right boot kept the visitors out of trouble, repeatedly gaining good territory and putting the game back down the Dogs’ end of the field. GPS’s ability to turn territory into points was proving the difference and Joey Lala crossed in the corner following some spectacular hands from the three GPS front-rowers.
The next few minutes had me questioning the legitimacy of the GPS front-rowers as they showed ball-handling skills most fly-halves would be proud of. I fear the front-rowers union could be revoking their memberships this week. These silky skills, coupled with strong phase play, led to GPS’s third try as Junior Rasolea dotted down between the posts. Pat Smith kicked his first conversion of the afternoon and the game looked to be a foregone conclusion, as GPS led 17-0 with under 10 minute remaining.
In typical gritty Wests fashion, the home team managed to play out the half in GPS’s red zone. They forced a penalty right on half time, managing to finally get on the board trailing 17-3 at the main break.
The Bulldogs must have eaten their fair share of oranges (and GPS’s share as well) because the boys from Sylvan Road came out looking like a vastly different side in the second half.
Although the first ten minutes were sloppy and unrewarding for both teams, Wests looked the better of the two sides and it wasn’t long before they got their first try of the game. Big tight head prop Sef Faagase went on a barnstorming 30-metre charge to the line, leaving in his wake noted defenders like Mogi Wei. Despite a penalty to Smith, Wests completely dominated the second half, capitalising on basic errors from GPS and beating the visiting team into submission.
As the Bulldogs began to find their feet, so too did the crowd find their voice, as one aging Bulldog supporter continually barked in appreciation of his side’s resurgence. The support from the faithful didn’t go unnoticed by the men on the field, and as one team crumbled, the other stood tall. Captain Mick Lee scored his side’s second try as the Bulldogs came storming back to be down by just three points with 20 minutes remaining.
Their improved control of the pill, and the ball game, coincided with an increased number of errors from the visiting team and when halfback Archie Walter crossed to put the Bulldogs in front, that foregone conclusion for GPS had turned into a boilover at The Kennel.
Brazen Bulldogs now stood in the place of the Chihuahuas that had donned the green and gold harlequin jerseys in the first half. Their dominance was highlighted by one almighty hit from Faagase on Wei, which shut down GPS’s last attacking chance in good territory and forced the ball to come loose.
A late penalty to Benfield Lainchbury put the final nail in the coffin and the Bulldogs had snatched a dramatic 27-20 victory in front of their home fans. Never has the phrase ‘A game of two halves’ been more accurate, as the Bulldogs showed that Coach Phil Mooney brought a new culture and self of belief to Wests Bulldogs Rugby.
As the teams completed their customary handshake, the Wests players joined arm-in-arm to face their faithful and the words ‘…take me home, Sylvan Road’ rang out loud enough for all of Toowong to hear.
Wests 27 (M Lee S Fagese A Walters tries B Lainchbury 2 pens 3 cons) d GPS 20 (J Lalagavesi J Rasolea T Winkley tries P Smith pen con)
The Ladder after Round 9
|Team||Played||Won||Lost||Drawn||For||Against||Difference||BP <7p||BP 4t||Points|
|University of Queensland||9||6||3||0||340||221||119||1||7||32|
|Rugby Gold Coast||9||2||7||0||165||296||-131||1||1||10|
|Sunshine Coast Rugby Union||8||0||8||0||103||314||-211||0||0||0|
Next Weeks Fixtures
|Home Team||Versus||Away Team||Location||Game Time|
|Brothers||v||Easts||Brothers / Jack Ross Oval||1515|
|GPS||v||Norths||GPS / Yoku Road||1520|
|Sunnybank||v||Souths||Sunnybank / Old Mac Oval||1500|
|Sunshine Coast Rugby Union||v||Rugby Gold Coast||Sunshine Coast Rugby Union / Stockland Park||1445|
|University of Queensland||v||Wests||University of Queensland / St Lucia 1 (5A)||1500|