In pristine conditions at the Nest on Saturday, Cottesloe eviscerated Associates in the battle of Broome Street, by a score of 30 points to zero. The score while wide, does not do credit to our near neighbours as it was a ferocious contest throughout but there can be no dispute as to who was the better side.
The first half began with both sides looking to move the ball a little bit wider in attack in an attempt to probe each other’s outer defensive channels. Tobias Hoskins and Simi Verata took the ball up with regularity in these early exchanges, but in fairness to Associates’ defence, the door was firmly shut to the two blue. As has been the narrative throughout this season though, it was Ethan Cayless who injected himself to turn the game. Wearing the number eight shirt on his back, he found himself out on the right hand side and used his deceptive speed and enormous power to force his way over the line for the first score. Associates looked to respond over the next ten minutes, and they did enjoy an extended period of possession, but they seemed to be going laterally rather than forward. On a number of occasions they would try their luck at going direct but they were inevitably met with tremendous force by the likes of Sasha Holloway or Ivan Fepule’ai. They were simply unable to put a dent in the defensive blue wall. Indeed it was Ivan himself who broke this mini Associates siege, when some sublime tactical kicking from Benny Meredith resulted in sustained Cottesloe pressure five metres out from the Associates line. After more than a dozen phases, Ivan successfully smashed his way through beneath a pile of bodies to score. Ben converted this try and the score remained 12-0 at the half time whistle.
Coaches Westaway, Owen and West elected to introduce totemic lock Ben Grant and walking juggernaught Kaisa Reidy for the second period and it resulted in Cottesloe being able to maintain the pace of their play, while Associates simultaneously wilted. Soaks battled manfully in the early part of the second half but they couldn’t really penetrate Cottesloe’s line for all their effort. Their half back, under torrid pressure from Scott Nichol, was unable to release his back line and in the forwards, some of their ball runners began to hide a little bit after being evaporated in heavy contact by Josh Tuialii or Kaisa Reidy. The introduction of wise head Gafa S’ua, fresh from his battle with the Western Force the previous night, resulted in Cottesloe looking to convert penalty attempts to keep the scoreboard ticking over rather than rashly going for the corner, and Ben Meredith was successful with two efforts. It pushed the score out past two tries for Associates and the game was effectively over at 18-0, with ten minutes remaining. A tiring and desperate Associates side began making multiple handling errors and their set piece fell apart. This writer and the large crowd at the fence could sense that there was blood in the water and it was never going to get any better for Associates. If there was a mechanism for throwing in the towel, Soaks manager Damien Elton would have considered it at this point. The match culminated in a ruthless finish as Cottesloe went for the jugular with Ben Grant and Mayson Hill going over for two fabulous tries. A tired, bedraggled and beleaguered Associates team breathed a sigh of relief when the referee, who had a great game this writer might add, blew the final whistle. The final score was 30 points to zero.
After the Nedlands result last week, the jury was out whether Cottesloe could replicate that performance. We need not have worried as Cottesloe exceeded it. Associates, the 2018 champions, were annihilated. Every player on the field and every player off the bench for Cottesloe were magnificent. Ivan Fepule’ai, Sasha Holloway and Lafa Ikenasio bludgeoned the Associates forward pack. Simi Verata and Josh Tuialii were everywhere in both attack and defence. Sean Martin was controlled at ten while Scotty Nichol played at a level above his opposite number. Mayson Hill and Ben Meredith are growing dangerously full of confidence every week and are rightly to be feared by all the other sides in the competition. But for this writer there can only be one guy. Yet again this was Ethan Cayless. He single handedly destroyed the Associates breakdown throughout, scored a try, and executed almost ten turnovers to the absolute dismay of Soaks. He completely outshone the championship winning back row of Associates, in every aspect of the game. With the sort of weekly performances Ethan is putting in, this writer would guess that he won’t be long for the amateur ranks.
The two blue travel to Joondalup this week in what is always a very hard match versus the Brothers, but our lads are ready to rumble.