SPIRIT READY TO CLASH WITH COUNTRY

Oct 4 • Australia, General News, National • 1857 Views • Comments Off on SPIRIT READY TO CLASH WITH COUNTRY

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The Perth Spirit has recorded back-to-back bonus-point victories, comfortably defeating Queensland Country, 68-29, at Lark Hill Sporting Complex in Rockingham.

The home side carried the same attacking form that was on display last week against the Stars, with another high scoring affair, including a hat-trick to flanker Kane Koteka.

Koteka combined with Brynard Stander and Alex Rovira in a formidable performance from the back-row.

Coach David Wessels said the result was very pleasing and while there were some areas they would need to work on during the week, the team’s effort was good overall.

“[Sam] Wykesy has done a great job with the group this week, laying out what our objectives were and our whole focus this week has been about us,” he said. “Our preparation was very good and the intensity was there.

“In the lead up to this game we felt we were in a really good space and for large parts of this game I thought we did really well but we spoke during the week about putting in an 80 minute performance and we didn’t do that

“We need to look at a couple of key areas in the game that let us down like the restarts but we’ll look at that during the week and come back better for it because we did some great things today.

“Queensland Country also put a couple of phases together really well and tested us defensively and that’s an area we’ve worked really hard on over the past couple of week so it was a credit to them.”

Wessels said he was particularly impressed with the efforts of the back-row.

“Both Kane [Koteka] and Richard [Hardwick] are pushing each other hard for that number seven jersey which is great for us and I thought that whole back-row did really well today,” he said.

“Al Rovira has worked hard all season and the bull Brynard Stander is pretty direct and very powerful when he gets going so they have been great for us.”

The home side got off to a flyer, scoring two tries in ten minutes to set the tone for the day.

Debutant, Christian Joubert, crossed for the first of the day before Koteka was rushed over in a rolling maul to give the Spirit a handy 10-nil lead.

The lead was cut to 10-8 minutes later when Jack De Guingand scored his first of the afternoon and Matt Brandon slotted the conversion.

Country enjoyed a healthy spell of possession and were rewarded when De Guingand crossed for his second, giving Queensland the 13-10 lead.

It was short lived however, when Robbie Abel finished off the pick-and-go play to gain the 15-13 lead back for the home side. Zack Holmes extended it to 18-13 with his successful conversion.

With another Spirit scrum 10 metres out from the try-line, Koteka once gain found himself with the ball and scored a mirror image of his first try with another brilliant rolling maul to push the lead to 23-13.

Luke Burton finished off a fantastic first half with a clever pass inside to Luke Morahan who crossed to give the Spirit a 31-13 lead, with Holmes conversion, at the break.

The second half started with a bang when Brynard Stander crossed off the back of a team effort after just two minutes. Holmes slotted the extras and the Spirit were ahead 39-13.

Abel crossed for his second double in as many weeks, pushed over by his teammates giving his team a 44-13 lead in the 50th minute.

Queensland showed some heart midway through the second half when De Guingand completed his hat-trick before lock, Blake Enever, crossed to peg the lead back to 44-29.

The Spirit kicked back into gear and capped off the try scoring late in the game, running in three un-answered tries.

Koteka crossed for his hat-trick when he broke through the defence and dotted it down next to the posts. Holmes slotted his fourth of the match for a 52-29 lead.

Crowd favourite, Joe Savage, got in on the action as well crossing in the corner and with Holmes’ conversion, pushed the lead to an unassailable 60-29.

Kyle Godwin sent a grubber kick through and it popped up nicely for replacement Va’a Mailei before Ian Prior adding the conversion, sealing it 68-29.

The Spirit have the bye in Round Eight before travelling to Dubbo to face the NSW Country Eagles in the final round of the Buildcorp NRC to fight for a berth in the final four.

Perth Spirit 68 (Kane Koteka 3, Robbie Abel 2, Brynard Stander, Christian Joubert, Luke Morahan, Joe Savage, Va’a Mailei tries; Zack Holmes 4, Ian Prior conversions) defeat Queensland Country 29 (Jack de Guingand 3, Blake Enever tries; Matt Brandon 3 conversions)

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