DEFENSIVE SPIRIT SEES PERTH INTO GRAND FINAL

Oct 25 • Australia, General News • 2105 Views • Comments Off on DEFENSIVE SPIRIT SEES PERTH INTO GRAND FINAL

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The Perth Spirit has ended the Melbourne Rising’s undefeated run today with a 45-29 victory at AAMI Park and will now contest the inaugural Buildcorp National Rugby Championship (NRC) next Saturday against Brisbane City in Brisbane.

 

The Spirit led the scoreboard throughout the match but it was an extremely physical tussle between the two sides with the Rising testing the Perth defence on many occasions.

 

Scores remained nil-all for the opening twenty minutes of the match before Spirit winger Marcel Brache broke the drought with back-to-back tries. The two sides traded tries in the second half but a final try for Ammon Matuauto, his second for the match, inside the last minute of the game sealed it for the Spirit.

 

Coach David Wessels was extremely pleased with his team’s performance and praised the efforts of his entire squad for today’s effort.

 

“I thought it was a fantastic effort from the guys with a full 80 minutes of effort,” he said. “We knew we had to be extremely physical to match the Melbourne side who have been the benchmark of this competition.

 

“The guys really played for each other and were very physical which was a key part of our game so it feels really good to get the result.

 

“The players on the field today were representing their brothers that made contributions throughout the season and weren’t able to be in Melbourne today with us and so we’re thrilled to get the win today for our team and for our supporters at home.”

 

Wessels said his side’s defensive effort was a standout feature of their game.

 

“It was great attacking effort as was shown on the scoreboard but I thought our defensive effort, particularly in that first period, was outstanding,” he said.

 

“Five times they attacked inside our 22 and five times we kept them out and I think in terms of winning the psychological battle early, that was significant for us.

 

“The first time we got an opportunity to strike we managed to score so that first 20 minute effort really set us up for the rest of the game.

 

“We want to take that momentum into the match against Brisbane. The guys are in a good head space so we’ve just got to continue to work hard.”

 

The Rising put the Spirit on the back foot early, dominating possession and territory to test the Perth defensive line time and time again but they couldn’t break through and the scoreline remained empty for the opening 20 minutes.

 

The first points came when momentum swung back in the Spirit’s favour and Dane Haylett-Petty sent a grubber kick through that popped up perfectly for Brache who dotted it down unopposed to take the score to 5-0.

 

The lead was extended to 13-0 minutes later when the Spirit pounced on a loose Rising ball with Brache sprinting away to dive over under the posts. Zack Holmes opened his account with the successful conversion.

 

Melbourne got on the board when Mitch Inman evaded the defence and romped through under the posts. Jack Debreczeni slotted the conversion with ease and the Rising were back within five points.

 

After the half-time break, a fumbled ball from the kick-off started a neat piece of play from the forwards inside the 22 with Oliver Hoskins scoring his maiden BuIldcorp NRC try from the pick-and-drive. Holmes kicked the conversion and the Spirit were ahead 21-8.

 

Rising fullback Jonah Placid then took a high-ball inside Spirit territory and proceeded to break through defence, scoring under the posts to give Debreczeni the easy conversion to take it to 21-16.

 

The Spirit’s forward pack once again worked the ball forward with some patient ball before sending it wide to send Matuauto over for his first of the match. Holmes’ eye was well and truly in and the lead was once again extended to 13.

 

Perth Spirit captain Sam Wykes fired up his side when he grabbed the ball off the back of the ruck and jumped over the breakdown to score and the away side was ahead 37-16 with Holmes kick, but a quick response try to Sefanaia Naivalu and Debreczeni’s subsequent conversion shortened the gap once again.

 

The Rising crowd were on their feet not long after when Naivalu moved the ball quickly downfield to find Inman who sprinted towards the try-line but was pulled up just short by the scrambling cover tackle by Haylett-Petty just short of the line.

 

With less than ten minutes on the clock, the Spirit found themselves down to 14 men when replacement Richard Hardwick was sent to the bin for repeated infringements and the Rising capitalised.

 

Debreczeni received the ball behind the scrum and stepped through a gap next to the posts but with time getting away from them his rushed conversion kick flew right of the posts and the Spirit were still ahead 37-29.

 

With less than a minute on the clock the Spirit battled through in Rising territory and Matuauto crossed out wide to seal the victory. Holmes’ difficult kick after the siren was the icing on the cake with the Spirit running out 45-29 victors.

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