Cottesloe Stumble To Second Consecutive Defeat

Cottesloe Premier Grade were pipped by a fired up and determined Southern Lions team on a score line of 15 points to 14. Coming off of last week’s defeat to Palmyra, it was believed by most rugby people, both inside and outside of the club, that Cottesloe would bounce back but it just wasn't to be. In golf parlance, our men were good off the tee and from the fairway, but when we got to the green we constantly three-putted. Phase after phase of continuity put Cottesloe in good position throughout the match, but ultimately they just could not convert this good play into points. Fumbles, knock-ons and isolated one off ball carriers were rife and Southern Lions were good enough to both nullify our attack and simultaneously score enough points of their own to keep us at bay.
The first half began in horrific fashion with Southern Lions taking advantage of less than robust fringe defence to power over from close range with their tight forwards, not just once, but twice. Cottesloe found themselves 12-0 down after 15 minutes. The coaches elected to respond abruptly by introducing totemic lock Kieran Stringer into the fold to steady the ship and it had an instant effect. Suddenly Southern Lions were being knocked back in the tackle and Cottesloe began to dominate both scum and lineout. Southern Lion’s amazing start to the match had earned them some respect from the Cottesloe leadership and as a result when long range penalty opportunities were awarded to Cottesloe, captain Gafa Sua elected to point to the sticks. Ben Meredith was in fine form off the tee and duly kicked three goals during the remainder of the half. Worryingly though, Cottesloe’s ball handling errors, particularly in the backline, never abated through this period of dominance. The score line at half time was 12-9 and it looked that if Cottesloe could pick up their accuracy they could easily get on top.
The coaching staff elected to play another trump card from their hand at half time when they unleashed a freshly returned from injury, Tobias Hoskins from the bench. It was evident early after his introduction that his damaging ball carrying and heroic defence were going to cause Southern Lion’s some terrible problems in the second half. Southern Lions had to make dozens of tackles to keep Cottesloe at bay during this early period of the second half. Unfortunately for Cottesloe, despite being virtually camped inside the Southern Lions half, they just could not keep ball in hand long enough to break them. It took 25 minutes of this second period for speedy full back Jason Badenhorst to get in for a well worked try out wide on the right. The conversion was missed but it put Cottesloe 14 points to 12 ahead. From this writer’s vantage point though, it just felt like a precarious lead from the moment we took it. Southern Lions virtually never fired a shot in attack for the first 30 minutes of the second half but in rugby, as we all know, every team will get their moment. As Cottesloe’s ill discipline and shoddy handling continued, Southern Lions finally earned their chance when awarded a penalty some thirty metres out. It was converted and they took the lead once more and braced themselves for the inevitable Cottesloe onslaught for the final ten minutes. But it never really materialised. Cottesloe did create several more half chances before the end, both from play and the tee, but the winning score eluded them, leaving an elated Southern Lions as deserved victors.
For Cottesloe, it was a strange performance all up. So much of the build up play was accurate and concise and the set piece was formidable throughout. Yet when it came to actually piercing the Southern Lions defensive line or take advantage of an overlap, inevitably a ball was dropped, a one off runner was stripped or a wrong option was taken. Southern Lions scored twice in the first ten minutes and virtually never set foot inside of the Cottesloe 22 for the rest of the game..... and yet... they won! Cottesloe did have some really good performances on show in fairness, it is not all doom and gloom. Scotty Nichol in the backline was ferocious in attack and flawlessly secure under the long kick. Most of Cottesloe’s best work was admittedly done in the forward pack. Lafa Ikenasio carried hard all day and Zane Herrick, selected in his more accustomed back row position, was accurate in the tackle and powerful with ball in hand. For this writer though, the player that caught the eye was Kieran Stringer. He was deployed after ten minutes and from the first second of his introduction, he was a catalyst for increased intensity from his forward pack. He single-handedly cleaned out the Southern Lions lineout which meant the men from Success were trapped in their own half for much of them game and he demanded effort and physical intensity from those around him at all times. He is exactly the type of leader you need as he would never ask another player to do something that he wouldn’t do himself.
This week Cottesloe will look to improve upon their current ladder position when they travel to Kalamunda to take on last year’s beaten finalists, the Bulls. It’s a game Cottesloe always relished and this week will be no different.