Cottesloe Earn Draw In Scrappy Encounter With Neddies 

In a match much dominated by winter weather conditions, Cottesloe managed to do enough to snatch a draw from the jaws of defeat against Nedlands on a score of 19 points apiece. Neither side were able to sustain periods of utter dominance and the consensus of all observers, both partisan and neutral, was that a draw was a fair result.
The first half began in tremendous fashion for Cottesloe as the ball found its way into the hands of elusive winger James Blackburn within the first couple of minutes. He duly proceeded to slalom his way through the Neddies defence leaving would-be tacklers floundering in his wake to score. Ben Meredith converted and Cottesloe were 7-0 up. The game settled down after that and Nedlands began to relax and control the tempo of the game through their vastly experienced Saffa half back. Each forward pack looked to take each other on and at set piece time, Neddies had a slight edge at the scrum whilst a Kieran Stringer commanded lineout probably knicked the exchanges there. Most of the play from both sides occurred at the wall side of the field as the wind howling in from the Indian Ocean played havoc with each sides kicking. Neddies were the next team to strike as a Heath Tessman lead forward pack managed to create a series of mauls and scrums in close to the Cottesloe line. After one too many Cottesloe penalties, the referee had no option but to award a try under the posts and the score remained 7 all the whole way to the break.
Cottesloe yet again began the second half with serious intent and with the introduction of Kaisa Reidy from the bench, Cottesloe began to bend the Nedlands defensive line. Again the play all really happened on Cottesloe’s left hand side, facing the clubhouse end. The Kaisa Reidy lead scrum began to shunt Nedlands off their own ball, while Alec Fontalvo and Cohen Masson started to march over the advantage line. In defence, veteran Sam Parker was beginning to dictate the line speed and suddenly Nedlands began to creak. Ten minutes in, Cottesloe found themselves a couple of metres out and the big boys looked to carry hard. It was flanker Alec Fontalvo who managed to use his short but powerful frame to burrow under the Nedlands tight forwards to score to the left of the posts. Ben Meredith had to curl the ball over the bar to convert like a soccer corner kick but he successfully made the score 14 points to 7. To Nedlands credit, they responded well after this. Former Cott man and current Neddies coach, Sam Rarasea, looking at a beaten lineout and a retreating scrum, rolled in the changes at this point and to his credit all of the Nedlands subs made an impact. For the next 20 minutes, Nedlands kept the ball in the hand and looked to attack the Cottesloe 13 channel. When they were turned back they used smart tactical kicking to sort of pin back Cottesloe in their own territory with the help of the wind. With 20 minutes to go, their half back threw an outrageous dummy to score beside the posts which was converted to make the score 14-14. Ten minutes later, still laying siege to the Cottesloe line, their forwards went in for another score and Nedlands lead 19 points to 14. Simi Verata was deployed from the bench at this point to add some attacking fervor and he did serve as a catalyst for a Cottesloe response. Cottesloe kept ball in hand and forced penalties from the Nedlands front row at scrum time. With a minute to go, Ben Meredith sent an exquisite penalty kick to the corner and this allowed Kieran Stringer and Gafa S’ua to orchestrate a series of mauls until in injury time, finally, Nedlands broke and Gafa himself went over in the corner. This left Ben Meredith with a kick for the win, from the sideline, into a gale force wind. With baited breath the crowd silenced but it wasn’t to be and the kick just floated wide. The final score remained 19-19.
This game wasn’t quite the fantastic spectacle with great skills on show that the game versus Wests was the week before. The weather dictated that the match had to be a dour arm wrestle and the draw really was a fair result. Had Ben Meredith slotted the last conversion and won it, it wouldn’t have done Nedlands justice as they had controlled territory for much of the second half. For Cottesloe most of the good performances came in the forward pack. Tobias Hoskins carried manfully alongside Cohen Masson. Kaisa Reidy when he was introduced troubled the Nedlands front row hugely as he has done many times over the years. In the backs Jimmy Blackburn showed in his try just how formidable he can be with ball in hand while Sam Parker rolled back the years to lead the line defensively in a midfield that was struggling to cope at times defensively. For this writer though, I believe that Alec Fontalvo was excellent throughout. At every minute and every second of the game he tries his hardest to be an absolute pest at the breakdown and he makes all games a hellish experience for every half back he opposes. As a smaller loose forward, he isn’t afraid to run at the big boys and even came up with a score. A display of huge workrate and effort.
This week, the lads travel to Wanneroo and they will be looking for a win to keep pressure on the other sides around them at the top of the ladder.