DeBartolo shines as Easts dismantle Two Blues

Photo: SPA Images

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A sunny afternoon in Sydney’s West saw Parramatta – who chalked up their first win of the season last week against Penrith – entertain Eastern Suburbs, themselves coming off the back of a rare victory at Coogee Oval. Could the Two Blues build on last week or would the Beasties’ class shine through?

Many sides in recent years have learned that if you let Parra get into the game at Granville Park, you could be facing an upset. But after 15 minutes of this clash it was glaringly obvious that this was not going to be one of those days.

Easts were brutally clinical from the first whistle. Early tries to Ed Brenac and Pat Smith set the tone, before a scrum in front of the posts gave the Beasts a chance to really show their dominance. Parra were pushed back a full 10 metres before Fergus Dorney dived for the line between the sea of legs to score another, Ben Ward converted two of the three tries, and it was 19-0 before anyone had blinked.

Parramatta were in shock. Any game plan they had simply went to pieces as they fell off tackles, threw wayward passes, and coughed up possession time and again, while Easts kept their foot on the throat and punished any mistake with points.

The Two Blues were struggling to get out of their own half, and more errors within a few minutes of each other cost them another two tries. Firstly, Easts forced a turnover on the centre circle, carried the ball up to the twenty-two, and fullback Pat Dellitt was at the end of the line when it mattered to cross under the posts.

The second was from a loose pass that was allowed to stray across the halfway line, leaving the predatory Gavin Debartolo to scoop it up, outpace the defence, and touch down in the corner. Ward was coping admirably with the breeze building around the ground, and slotted both conversions to extend the lead to 33-0.

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Fergus Dorney charges through the Two Blues defence – Photo: SPA Images

Parra then had no answer to DeBartolo as he scored a second with a fine piece of individual skill. Receiving the ball on halfway and just in from the touchline, he set off with only one intent. Carrying it 10 metres he chipped over the head of an onrushing defender, re-gathered, then skirted past the last man on his outside to touch down to leave the Beasts ticking along at more than a point a minute.

And it wasn’t long before they were in again, this time Dellitt adding to his personal tally. Parra worked the ball to halfway but then kicked away possession under pressure. The ball was caught by Dellitt, who took it to the line, stepped through the gap as the defence parted, and ran virtually unchallenged to score. This was starting to get ugly.

The home side were being totally outmuscled at scrum time, and repeat infringements were just prolonging the agony as Easts skipper Tom Egan kept up the mental and physical pressure by taking the referee’s offer to pack down again, and again, and again.

The body language from the Two Blues was not good, their heads were down and they looked lost. And their problems were compounded when gun loose forward Steve Mafi hobbled out of the game as the half-time bell rang, with the scoreboard reading 47-0 in favour of the men from Woollahra.

As the two teams went into their separate huddles you could only fear for the eventual disparity of the scoreline. But Parramatta went on to surprise those in attendance, and possibly even themselves, with their gutsy efforts after the break.

After 20 whole minutes of the second half the Two Blues line was still intact as they found some much-needed resolve. Another succession of scrums in the right corner of the field left them pinned to their own line, scrambling desperately to keep the ball out, with hooker Scott Podmore in particular throwing his body at everything.

The sheer anger and humiliation of the situation his side found themselves in was etched across his face as he physically tore into the opposition, and verbally tore into his team mates to demand greater endeavour. But as the pressure mounted, Parra were forced into conceding penalties to protect their line. And after one too many, the ref’s patience finally ran out and Winney Paulo was sent to the bin.

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Scott Podmore was a combative standout in defeat for Parra – Photo: SPA Images

The extra man advantage swung it for Easts, as they pushed over for try number eight shortly after. Fergus Dorney was the man at the bottom of the pile once again, capping another fine display following last week’s two-game heroics at Coogee.

A period of rare possession then followed for Parramatta. But as soon as they got the confidence to throw bodies at the breakdown, Easts greater power and technique forced a turnover, and they were left exposed and vulnerable out wide.

One such instance was punished by Ben Ward, who made a quick break towards the left flank and sent a magnificent pass into the hands of replacement Sam Windsor, who held his line to find the corner for another five-pointer. The flyhalf couldn’t dissect the uprights on this occasion, but it was merely academical now.

With five minutes to go it was left to DeBartolo to strike the final blow, and claim his hat-trick in the process. Another training drill through the hands saw the US Eagle in space on the right wing, and his turn of speed did the rest. Ward failed to pile on the agony and the curtain came down on a one-sided affair with the final score 64-0, although Parra had restored some semblance of pride with their second half performance.

So Easts march on, but they didn’t really have to go beyond 3rd gear on the day. They executed well, their scrum was superb, they dominated the breakdown, and their backline was efficient and clinical. But how to judge them fairly given the margin of victory? As the old saying goes, you can only beat what’s in front of you.

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EASTERN SUBURBS 64 (Gavin Debartolo 3, Pat Dellit 2, Fergus Dorney 2, Pat Smith, Ed Brenac, Sam Windsor tries; Ben Ward 7 cons) defeated PARRAMATTA 0 at Granville Park HT: 47-0

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Parramatta: 1. Lui Sakaria; 2. Scott Podmore; 3. Matt Borg; 4. Sam Evalu; 5. Ryan Aniseko; 6. Andrew Cox; 7. Winney Paulo; 8. Steve Mafi; 9. Aaron Mattin; 10. Steve Hales; 11. Roland Herea; 12. Piripi Ranga; 13. Wise Gavidi; 14. Oscar Fraser; 15. Ben Borg

Eastern Suburbs: 1. Mike Ross; 2. Sam Zlatevski; 3. Rob McMickan; 4. Tom Egan (c); 5. Lee Morley; 6. Ed Brenac; 7. Chris Hitch; 8. Fergus Dorney; 9. Luke Irwin; 10. Ben Ward; 11. Pat Smith; 12. Tom Azar; 13. Nathan Lowe; 14. Gavin DeBartolo; 15. Pat Dellit

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First published by clubrugby.com.au on May 5th, 2009

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