Cottesloe Suffer Reversal Versus Wests In Scarborough

Cottesloe premier grade’s long undefeated streak came to an end on Saturday at the hands of perennial contenders West Scarborough, by a score of 34 points to 27. A fired up and mobile Wests team were able to hit us for tries early in the first half and by the time we had figured out how to defeat them, they had gone too far on front to catch.

The first half began with Wests using their dynamite backline to attack in waves, mixing it up between the inside channels and the outside. Cottesloe initially struggled to get up to the pace of the game as the shocking speed with which the Boars attacked with, caught them off guard. For the first time this year, a team elected to strike at us from deep and with pace and it admittedly caused problems. Wests struck first with a try and quickly followed it with another straight after as their centres bent the line on multiple occasions, which put their forward pack in great position in attack. Cohen Masson and Zane Herrick had to make multiple tackles just to keep Wests at bay during this period. Finally, Cottesloe managed to get their hands on the ball after weathering the storm and this allowed the two blue to get to work on the soft underbelly of the Wests forwards. Tobias Hoskins used this period of dominance to smash his way over for a score which was converted. Wests answered back with a mesmerizing try from deep to run in under the posts, highlighting the danger that they possess when balls were kicked loosely to them. Worse was to follow when Wests used their tight forwards to burrow underneath us to score once more and suddenly Cottesloe were looking down the barrel of a heavy defeat. Our own backline managed to break the siege when Tamba Lebbie put Jimmy Blackburn away to score a magnificent try on the right corner from deep and this kept us in touch, but Wests hit back just before the break with yet a another great try when our midfield defence was caught flatfooted.

At the half time break, this writer and the supporters could clearly hear captain Kieran Stringer laying down the law to his players and when Cottesloe returned to the field something had ominously clicked. Ben Grant, Simi Verata and Scott Nichol entered the fray at the break and all three had an instant impact. Cottesloe began to turn the screw at set piece on Wests and ever so slowly the Boars began to crumble. Their dangerous number 10, a fulcrum for their attack, was targeted for some heavy punishment with one shot in particular from Nick Jooste catching the eye. His flamboyance and courage in attack quickly diminished and he wilted badly thus starving the lethal Wests backline of good ball. Indeed apart from a single penalty during the half, West’s attack completely ground to a halt and they never scored a try again for the rest of the game. Cottesloe executed a rolling maul after twenty minutes of the second half and Wests forward pack folded. The referee had no alternative but to award a try beneath the posts. Ten minutes later, Nick Jooste smashed his way through the Wests midfield and back row to score and Ben Meredith added a penalty in or around that time. The last six or seven minutes were a siege as Cottesloe had utter dominance at set piece, absolute territorial lordship and faced a number ten that had effectively packed up his bags when it got physical, looking far more Auckland Blues than Crusaders by the end of the game. But it wasn’t to be and Wests held on for, on the balance of play (particularly their first half attacking flair), a deserved victory.

This was a fantastic game between what this writer would consider the two best sides in the competition, and it lived up to expectation. For the first time this year, we faced a team with real menace in the backline who play with skill and ambition and are unafraid to attack from deep. It took Cottesloe around 30 minutes to adjust but by that stage we found ourselves 3 tries down with a mountain to climb. What’s pleasing is that we found a way to get back at the game and we had the ability to nullify their strengths as we kept them scoreless for tries in the second half. Next time we play them, this writer is certain, that we now know all of their tricks and we see them coming. For Cottesloe there were multiple great performances. Gafa S’ua and Cohen Masson were physical in defence. Simi Verata when he came on added a major attacking edge. Nick Jooste was like a cliff versus the ocean in the backline when we needed leadership and Ben Meredith looked to attack when it was on. For this writer though it was Tobias Hoskins who stood out. Endless thankless ball carrying was the signature of his performance, into a maroon wall of kiwi power for Wests. At first he was being stopped, half way through the game he was getting through them, and by the end he was bowling them over like skittles before him. Tobias is a relentless footballer and will surely be key next time we face them.