Cottesloe See Off UWA In The Rain To Stay Top

Cottesloe successfully maintained their position on top of the ladder with a dour win in wintery conditions at McGillivray Oval, by a score of 13 points to 10. Once Cottesloe got their noses in front they simply erected the “Blue Wall” and backed their defence, fully confident that they could see off anything that the students could muster. And they were right.

The first half began with Cottesloe taking it to UWA straight through the middle using their big runners like Gafa S’ua and Simi Verata in attempt to bludgeon the smaller UWA side into submission. In fairness to the students, their blistering line speed proved sufficient in stopping Cottesloe gaining much momentum as they correctly surmised that in the weather conditions present, Cottesloe were unlikely to go wide. The home side successfully blunted several attacks from the two blue inside their own half which forced Kieran Stringer to have a rethink tactically. On Cottesloe’s next awarded penalty, Ben Meredith was summoned and he duly belted a monstrous 45 metre kick over the bar to snatch the lead at 3-0. This score stung UWA into action and against the run of play, they managed to snatch an opportunistic score to grab the lead. Cottesloe marched straight back up the field though and answered through a fabulous score from speedster Mayson Hill. Ben Meredith converted. Another penalty opportunity arose five minutes later on front of the posts and despite Cottesloe having dominance at scrum time, Kieran Stringer on consultation with Gafa S’ua, again summoned Ben Meredith for an easy three. UWA scored a long range penalty themselves toward the end of the half and at the break the score was 13-10.

At the beginning of the second half, it was clear to the drenched and bedraggled supporters (this writer included), that Cottesloe were determined to play almost no football inside their own half. From the very first minute, Sean Martin and Ben Meredith hammered the corners with kicking from the hand and dared UWA to come and have a go at the Cottesloe defensive line if they thought they were good enough. Cottesloe played very little football in this half and just decided to use a combination of their superior size, tactical kicking and the slight breeze and heavy rain at their backs to effectively strangle UWA. The students briefly entered Cottesloe’s 22 once or twice but the Cottesloe scrum devoured their opposite numbers and the ball was cleared. Although the lead was only 3 points and would seem precarious, it actually wasn’t as conditions were so bad. It was very rare that either team managed to sustain more than three or four phases together, and when they did they made almost no ground against determined defence . When UWA challenged the Cottesloe defensive line they found themselves beaten back and hammered in the tackle by the likes of Ben Grant, Ivan Fepuleai and Dr Johnny Iliff. For the entire 40 minutes, both tactically and physically, Cottesloe never took their foot off the throat of UWA. When the final whistle went, UWA looked a beaten side as they realised that had been effectively bullied off the park.

This writer’s grandfather used to say that “the bigger faster stronger man doesn’t always win the fight..... but it’s the way to bet”, and so it proved true here with Cottesloe emerging victorious. The teams leadership used the first twenty minutes to gauge what they could and could not do and then chose a path to victory through tactical kicking into the deep and physical defensive dominance. They basically asked the trailing team in UWA to play all the football inside their own half and try and defeat us from 80 metres away if they were good enough. They weren’t. It was a calculated gamble and it worked. In the forwards, Ivan Fepuleai and Gafa S’ua could be visibly seen to enjoy their football as they belted the men in green and yellow continually. Simi Verata and Tobias Hoskins carried hard throughout and allowed Sean Martin and Ben Meredith time and space to leather the ball up the field. In the backs, Scott Nichol was electric from the base and Sean Martin barked out instructions for the full 80, steering his forward pack around. But for this writer, the most important player on the field was Ben Meredith. He possesses a howitzer of a right boot and he demoralised the entire UWA team with his kicking. Time and time again, UWA would have to go through ten or fifteen phases in a meat grinder of a match in the torrential rain against our ferocious forward pack, just to get turned over and sent seventy metres back into their own 22. He did exactly what Gafa S’ua and Kieran Stringer wanted him to do and killed the students territoriality.

This week the lads welcome the high flying Roo-dogs to the nest for the final encounter before the super-six begins,