Semi-Final Preview!

Due to the fact that there was no game last weekend because of the Bledisloe game at Optus Stadium, this writer has been asked to write up a preview for all five of our teams that will participate in finals this weekend. All four of our men’s grades and our ladies will play at a variety of grounds on Saturday and Sunday, and so with no further ado:
The Shegulls:

Our ladies have finished in third spot on the ladder and will face a difficult challenge in Kalamunda. The Kweens(sic) as they are known as, are fairly formidable, a large and physically powerful side and sprinkled with a handful of ball players in the middle of the field. The Shegull’s record against them has been hit and miss this season with a draw sitting either side of a couple of marginal defeats. Kalamunda, just like us, have two players from their ranks representing Australia, Trilleen Pomare a Carlos Spensor-esque ten and Ariana Hira-Herangi a hard carrying centre. It is expected that none of these players, including our Mhicca and Bec, will be available for the semi final as they will be travelling with Australia to Auckland.

Kalamunda have a big forward pack but they aren’t the fittest side in the world. There is no doubt as to who will have the most petrol in the tank but they will be bigger than our girls and likely physically stronger. Key in this writer’s opinion will be Katie Barnes at the line-out. Cottesloe’s line out will be vastly superior to Kalamunda’s and it really should be the case where all of our line out ball is ours and all of their line out ball is ours as well. Kalamunda are at their best when anarchy reigns and the game devolves into a helter-skelter mess, whereas if a structured game of accurate Rugby Union Football breaks out, we should have the upper hand. Other players that are vital to our cause are Pania Kara our lively number nine, Langley Sesega our powerful ten who has a huge job to try and turn the Kalamunda forward pack around and make them run, and of course Debbie Carley who we must look to for the physicality we will need to stem the red and black tide. This will be a hard game for our girls, there is no denying this, but it’s one that this writer feels Cottesloe can win.
Cott 4th Grade

Cottesloe fourth grade will play in the shield tournament on Sunday afternoon in UWA where they will face Wanneroo. At the grade, we have defeated Wanneroo a couple of times already this season and in fact Cottesloe are actually the reigning and defending champions of this particular shield. Wanneroo’s fourth grade are a pretty large and veteran side but our guys have proven that they have the strength to match them where they are strong and beat them out wide where we have a tangible advantage. Paulo Fuimaono is hugely important to our fourth grade side as he anchors the scrum but he also carries a lot of hard ball for the lads as well. Sam Turner and George Divaris carry their fair share when required too. Out the back, Cole Kraus and Harold Burnett will provide the attacking direction while veteran half backs Mike Gallagher and Eduardo Robaino will alternate the nine shirt between them as the game progresses. For this writer, this is a game that Cottesloe can win comfortably if their set piece holds up as we have proven on two occasions that when we attack Wanneroo with width, tries usually come.
Cott 3rd Grade

The Cottesloe threes travel down to Lark Hill on Saturday morning to take on Coastal Cavaliers in the plate competition. Cottesloe only narrowly missed out on playing in the cup proper as the fixtures were extremely kind to a few of our rivals and our boys had to face a murderer’s row of teams at the grade. The opposition they face on Saturday will be stiff and fairly physical but there is no mystery about the way Coastal Cavaliers play. A lot of their players would have a league background and absolutely love to carry it hard, high and straight with the occasional offload. You would like to think with the vast experience at our disposal at the grade that we should be able to endure that type of assault. Upfront Matt Barbour who is having a fine season will have to keep our scrum in the game along with his usual industrious efforts around the park. Ian Cook is a tall lineout technician and will be instrumental in keeping our attacking set piece ticking over. In the backline, the threes will look to Heke Buchanon, Baden Stevenson and James Lorian to take on and ultimately defeat their respective opposite numbers and for this writer if these three men get good quick ball out on front of them, it could be too much for Coastal Cavaliers. This writer expects the threes to get up here by a couple of tries.
Cott Reserve Grade

Our reserve grade side this year has had the look of destiny about them all year. Undefeated in their campaign and they have only dropped two points all year in a strange draw against Perth Bayswater. They face West Scarborough in Nedlands on Saturday afternoon though and it must be stated that probably the stiffest test our Ressies faced all year was our opposition here. Wests have a distinctly kiwi flavour to them and play with an abandon that is inherent to kiwi teams. They are a team that are unafraid to attack from their own line if they feel that our wingers are too deep and although not a particularly structured side, they try and make every defensive breakdown a mess to slow down their opponents ball.

The last time our Ressies faced them there was plenty of niggle in it and as a supporter of this team I hope that our lads can focus on the task on hand rather than trying to settle scores and put on large shots for the sake of it. Wests probably in the cold light of day have us a little bit for pace in areas but we have them in this writer’s opinion for tactical nous and at set piece. We also possess an enormous forward pack for the grade and I suspect that our lads will be looking to take on Wests around the fringes in a sort of microcosm for what we suspect will occur in premier grade the following day. A word of warning though, if our lads are not clued in, Wests are the sort of side than can hit you for 14 or 21 points in mere minutes and our lads must be completely wary, but they also should acknowledge that they are undefeated all year for a reason and should fear nobody. In this writer’s opinion if the Ressies show up and do what we can do, we should have too much ammunition for them, but I reiterate, we must be wary.
Cottesloe Premier Grade

And so to the main event, with second place Cottesloe hosting third place Wests at the nest, in what promises to be a hell of a match. In round one, we caught an ill prepared Wests side on the hop and put them to the sword yet they have recovered nicely all year and returned the favour a few weeks ago with a mesmerising first half display. The match threatens to be a complete clash of styles where Wests use a sort of Wellington Hurricanes style of football with plenty of width and depth employed, whereas we play a sort of Canterbury Crusader style with elements of the Cheetahs and Lions of South Africa. Wests attacking threat revolves around Jerome their number ten. He is a mercurial Quade Cooper type player who when allowed time and space to play the football can really hurt teams. He is assisted at number twelve through hard charging centre Louie David and Koteka their fullback of the famous Western Australian rugby family. Up front, their back row is mobile and combatitive and their line out is run by big Matt O’Brien.

There is no need to go into detail from our point of view as you would have been reading this writer’s match reports all year, plus coaches Westaway, Owen and West are keeping their cards close to their chest selection wise so I am not privy to the team composition at this point. What I can say is that preparation has been fantastic and no stone has been left unturned in pursuit of victory here. If we are defeated, it won’t be through lack of preparation. I suspect this game will be an incredible nip and tuck affair and almost ludicrously physical upfront. West Scarborough are a front running outfit and usually hit the ground fast in games, so our lads will probably be looking to disrupt them at set piece, get at their ten and look to take them on at scrum time. All signs point to this being an absolute war and a treat to the supporters and with a full fresh bench at our disposal, as a Cottesloe supporter, I am very hopeful of victory.