Gulls Take Flight In The Rain

Cottesloe Prems notched up their fifth victory on the spin away to Joondalup Brothers on Saturday by the narrowest of margins, 15 points to 14. The conditions were abysmal and reduced Cottesloe’s attacking options, but the boys in two blue resorted to tactical nous and defensive physicality to seize the day.

The first half began with both sides looking to send some of their bigger ball runners down the midfield channels but neither side could really gain a foothold. The torrential rain that had fallen during the ressies match beforehand had reduced the field to a treacherous quagmire and neither Cott nor the Brothers seemed capable of stringing more than three or four phases together. The difference in these early exchanges was apparent in two areas. Ben Meredith and Sean Martin were superior in terms of territorial kicking than their opposite numbers while simultaneously, the Cottesloe scrum was infinitely more powerful than the Joondalup scrum. After 20 minutes, Cottesloe earned a penalty on front of the posts. Gafa S’ua and Tobias Hoskins pointed to the goals as our attempts to batter Joondalup into submission were thwarted by the conditions and both leaders wished for some reward for our efforts. Ben Meredith converted and Cottesloe lead 3-0. Ten minutes later the score improved further for Cottesloe as Zu Abrahams waltzed his way through after the forwards succeeded in holding onto possession for a period in the Brother’s 22. Cottesloe began to get on the wrong side of the referee toward the end of the half though as the weather worsened and Joondalup managed to put their first phase of sustained pressure together. This lead to a deserved try scored with 7 minutes remaining in the half. Their kicker converted and the score was 8-7 to Cottesloe. The lightning and rainstorm intensified at this point and the referee pulled the plug on the half early for safety reasons.

After fifteen minutes of torrential rain the referee called both teams out of the sheds and the match resumed. Cottesloe introduced Ben Grant from the bench and immediately the forward pack began to dominate. Tobias Hoskins, Simi Verata and a sniping Scott Nichol began to make huge inroads into the Joondalup defensive line and Lafa Ikenasio proved difficult to handle yet again. With fifteen minutes gone in the half comprised of mostly Cottesloe pressure, Tobias Hoskins smashed his way over for Cottesloe’s second try on the left hand side. The conversion was struck over the bar with aplomb as Ben Meredith had to aim some fifteen metres outside the post to bring it back in because of the breeze. It proved to be an extremely important score though as it put two scores between the Two Blue and the Brothers. Joondalup, making a mockery of their lowly spot on the ladder, began to ramp up the pressure in an effort to get back in the game. With the wind at their back and the rain in the faces of the Cottesloe defenders, the remaining twenty minutes turned into a siege. Continually, Cottesloe’s tactic of passing the ball back ten metres for a kicker to clear it only twenty metres up field, strangled them territorially. On several occasions Joondalup were able to block down kicks which compounded pressure on Cott. They struck for a try with ten minutes remaining on the clock through forward pressure and converted to leave the scores at 15-14 and when Sean Martin received a “team” yellow card for repeated infringements at the breakdown a minute later, the signs looked ominous. We need not have worried though as heroic defence from Cottesloe turned the Brothers back repeatedly and eventually they ran out of not just ideas, but time as well. The final score stayed at 15-14 to Cottesloe.

Despite the horrendous conditions, Cottesloe displayed different aspects from their repertoire than has been required so far this season, where most of the game was played one metre either side of the ruck in a war of attrition. The victory was undoubtedly built on defensive effort and in this arena a number of Cottesloe players excelled. Tobias Hoskins, Sasha Holloway and Simi Verata made endless tackles around the field while Ivan Fepuleai unleashed some rib melting shots that dismayed some of the Joondalup ball carriers. Lafa Ikenasio had to play a full 80 minutes and the big man never faltered. Scotty Nichol was relentless with ball in hand and ridiculously brave in the tackle. For this writer though, the man that stood out was Gafa S’ua. Joondalup for years have been sort of a bogeyman style for Cottesloe and have often come away victorious in matches such as these in the past. But with the pressure coming on and with the conditions, and at times the officialdom, going against us, Gafa stood firm. His calmness rippled through the side and despite having to defend on our line for much of the last twenty minutes, the side never lacked for focus or effort and we came out the other side victorious. Gafa was the fulcrum for this.

This week, Cottesloe welcome Perth Bayswater to the Nest for Ladies Day, and the boys are very keen to impress.