ARKs of Armadale were simply no match for Cottesloe at the Nest on Saturday as the boys in two blue ran away easy winners on a score of 58 points to 14. ARKs, like Cottesloe and indeed many other sides in the competition, were much depleted due to injury and as a result struggled to mount a significant challenge to Cott. In almost every position on the field, Cottesloe were too quick, too strong and too skillful and duly destroyed ARKs.
The first half began at a fierce tempo with Cottesloe looking to employ their big ball carriers such as Tobias Hoskins and Lafa Ikenasio, to punch holes through the middle. Arks struggled to get to grips with the sheer ferocity Cottesloe employed and it wasn’t long before the two blue got in for their first try through a strong carry from Ivan Fepule’ai. Within minutes, Cottesloe had tacked on a penalty in addition to that try and began to monopolise possession. Against the run of play, Arks managed to score a breakaway try but it proved to be only a momentary reprieve as Cottesloe instantly resumed the onslaught. James Blackburn, Gafa S’ua, James Blackburn again and Tobias Hoskins all piled over for tries from all angles. Arks were completely at sea as their ball carriers were smashed, their set piece was ransacked and their flat out refusal to play any territory whatsoever ensured that Sean Martin and Kieran Stringer were able to camp the Cottesloe forward pack virtually inside the Arks 22 metre line for most of the half. The score at half time was 36-7 and the referees whistle was a relief to the beleaguered Armadale men.
The second half began exactly as the first had ended with newly returned from injury back row forward, Ethan Cayless, scoring with his first touch of the ball. After ten more minutes of relentless attacking Cottesloe play, Arks looked tired, bemused and discouraged and the tries rained in for the boys in blue. Mayson Hill, showing glimpses of Tim Horan, carved through the Arks midfield like a knife through butter to score. Tamba Lebbie had his turn shortly after when his pace and power proved far too much for his opposite number and he dotted down to score. Ten more minutes after that, Simi Verata ghosted his way through a few despairing tackles to touch down with Ben Meredith converting. At this point, with the score at 58-7, coaches Westaway, Owen and West elected to run the full bench. With Nedlands on the horizon next week, Arks capitulating before their eyes and the bonus point fully secured, the management decided to preserve some key men from potential injury and blood the reserves. The disruption to the side caused by multiple substitutions offered a slight reprieve to Arks as they finally were allowed to put some phases together and they even managed a late desultory score, but it never got any better than that for them. At the final whistle the score was 58-14.
This was an accurate and focused performance from Cottesloe irrespective of Ark’s depleted squad list. Arks put Cottesloe through hell in the 2018 season down at Harrisdale, but Cott are a different side now and showed no mercy to their opponents. The victory at Kalamunda clearly had imbued the side with great confidence and it showed from the very first minute. As you would expect from a 44 point victory, there were tremendous performances on show throughout the team. Gafa S’ua and Sasha Holloway carried truck loads of ball and sapped the energy of the Arks forwards. Tamba Lebbie and Jimmy Blackburn eviscerated their direct opponents for the second week running, from their respective wing berths. Ben Meredith was assured under the high ball, lengthy with his kicking and frightening in attack. For this writer though, I would have to concur with Coach Westaway with his selection for man of the match in Lafa Ikenasio. He is a six foot, 125 kilogram juggernaut who charges down the field like a berserk bull elephant, leaving flattened road kill in his wake. This writer can attest to this fact just from training, that tackling him is like trying to catch a grand piano from falling down a staircase. Apart from his destructive ball carrying, he is also extremely solid in both scrum and lineout and he has surprisingly good hands for such a big man. He is a massive addition to this squad.
The lads will travel to the foreshore this Saturday for the annual battle with Nedlands, and since winning two on the bounce, will play with ambition and confidence.