Rampant Beasts too good for Wicks in derby

Photo: SPA Images

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Eastern Suburbs have cemented their spot in the top four with victory in a game against local rivals Randwick that provided a feast of tries at Woollahra Oval. Thirteen five pointers were scored, eight of which gave the Beasts the spoils in a 46-34 victory, with doubles to man of the match Huia Edmonds, and fullback Pat Dellitt.

The scoreline could have been greater but both side’s kickers had an off day with the boot, slotting only one from eight attempts in a tight first half that saw the home side take a 2pt lead into the break at 15-13. With Edmonds a threat all around the park, the Beasts put down the hammer in the second half to lead 46-20 with 15 minutes to go, before a late surge from the Wicks restored some pride and caused a few nervous flutters for the local faithful.

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Things started well for Easts with two tries in the opening quarter of an hour, Ryan Cross floating a long, looping pass into the arms of Dellitt to score, before flyhalf Matt Toomua showed his vision, prodding a nicely weighted kick over the Wicks’ line and into the right corner for Anton La Vin to dot down untouched. Both tries were unconverted by scrumhalf Brendan McKibbin, and in a sign of things to come, Kurtley Beale also dragged a retaliatory penalty attempt wide in between the scores.

The only bad news for Easts was the early head knock suffered by Huia Edmonds that left him dazed and confused to say the least. But he managed to continue, and to go on and put in the performance he produced was something of a miracle – he was that good.

It wasn’t long before the Galloping Greens struck when Nick Cummins was on the receiving end of a cut-out pass from Josh Valentine, following a scrum in front of the posts. Beale’s missed conversion was matched by McKibbin’s third failure from a penalty straight after the restart, and the score stayed at 10-5.

Easts continued to attack, moving the ball at pace and looking to hurt the Wicks out wide and on the half hour, they got their reward. Having stretched the defence to the right, the ball was swung back left through skipper Ben Ward to Damon Anderson, and on to Edmonds who palmed off Lotu Taukeiho, drew the tackle of Valentine, and put Ofa Fainga’anuku across the chalk. A great team try but again, the extras couldn’t be added by an unusually out of touch McKibbin.

Beale, Kurtley runs 170710D-0777.JPG

Kurtley Beale jinks his way through the traffic – Photo: SPA Images

Five minutes before half-time, Randwick narrowed the gap once more. Recycling the ball from a lineout, Valentine found the rampaging Sekope Kepu, who trucked it up to within five metres, and quick hands from Ben Mowen put Bevu Tuqiri across near the flag. It was touch and go as to whether he hit the corner post first, but referee Stephen Hill consulted with his assistant and gave the all clear.

Beale made it none from seven for the kickers from an admittedly tight angle. But just before the break he had another opportunity from a penalty, and the first successful shot of the day took them to the sheds with a 2pt ball game in favour of the hosts.

The Huia Edmonds Show continued apace after the break, as Easts put their pedal to the metal and outgunned their neighbours with some exhilarating attacking play.

He started with a chip and regather over halfway, holding off two after the retake and putting Cross down the line with a one-handed pass in contact. Minutes later, a line-out from five metres on the opposite flank saw Edmonds concoct a cheeky one-two with lock Ed Brenac to fool everyone, and skip across for try number five for the Beasts. Both extras were passed up, the first by a frustrated McKibbin, and the second by Toomua while the talented scrumhalf was down in back play. Whatever it was, it was contagious.

The Beasts were in control, but if there’s one team that you can’t keep down as a scoring threat no matter what the scoreboard says, it’s Randwick. And so it was in the 50th minute, when Valentine started a textbook move that went through the hands of everyone in the line until Matt Nethery profited from the overlap. Simple things executed well, often get results.

A lull ensued before Easts went up another gear with a seven-minute, three-try salvo to take the game away from the visitors. Dellitt had been threatening all match, and it was no surprise when he returned a punt from Beale, put up a garryowen, regathered and ran clear to notch his second. What was surprising, was the fact that nobody in a myrtle green jersey seemed to make any attempt to stop him.

Toomua, Matt passing 170710D-0473.JPG

Matt Toomua showed his class with some lovely touches – Photo: SPA Images

To ironic cheers McKibbin slotted his first successful kick of the day, and the boost to his confidence fed through to his game. Shortly after the restart he found Toomua off the back of a scrum on halfway, and the mercurial no.10 put a perfect pass in for Cross to break the line and put the eagerly placed Anderson away for his 12th of the season.

Edmonds then took his final bow before departing to a raucous ovation, with yet more evidence of the sublime skills he has in his locker. Repeating the previous lineout move with Brenac, he took off down the line, put in a huge step on Nethery, brushed past Dave Parsons, angled in towards the posts and still had the presence of mind to step inside Beale’s recovering tackle and touch down one-handed. Are we sure this guy’s a hooker??

Normal service had now resumed for McKibbin, who added the extras to both scores to make it 46-20 and game over with 15 minutes to go.

Well, it should have been. But a combination of Easts taking their foot of the throat, and the Wicks going for broke with ball in hand against a tiring defence, meant that two late tries to Gene Fairbanks and a second for Tuqiri, had a few red and blue hearts in mouths under the Woollahra pavilion, before the home side held out for a deserved and wonderfully entertaining win.

Eastern Suburbs 46 (Huia Edmonds 2, Pat Dellit 2, Ofa Fainga’anuku, Damon Anderson, Ryan Cross, Anton La Vin tries; Brendan McKibbin 3 cons) defeated Randwick 34 (Bevu Tuqiri 2, Matt Nethery, Gene Fairbanks, Nick Cummins tries; Kurtley Beale 3 cons, pen) at Woollahra Oval. HT: Eastern Suburbs 15-13

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Eastern Suburbs: 1. Ofa Fainga’anuku; 2. Huia Edmonds; 3. Guy Shepherdson; 4. Phil Mathers; 5. Ed Brenac; 6. Matt Hodgson; 7. Will Brock; 8. Andrew Shaw; 9. Brendan McKibbin; 10. Matt To’omua; 11. Damon Anderson; 12. Ben Ward; 13. Ryan Cross; 14. Anton La Vin; 15. Pat Dellit

Randwick: 1. Sekope Kepu; 2. John Fonokalafi; 3. Lotu Taukeiaho; 4. Dave Parsons; 5. Steve Brennan; 6. Seilala Lam; 7. Dave Vizer; 8. Ben Mowen; 9. Josh Valentine; 10. Brent Kelly; 11. Matt Nethery; 12. Gene Fairbanks; 13. Nick Cummins; 14. Bevu Tuqiri; 15. Kurtley Beale

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Eastern Suburbs hooker Huia Edmonds:

“We had a gameplan. We wanted to try and get them out wide and use our feet with their forward pack, and that’s what our outside backs did and we came away with a win. In the 22 we wanted to get field position, and we have a couple of moves where we try to use myself and it came off a couple of times and we scored some tries from it.

“I was getting a bit worried for a while there, and I was yelling out for us to slow the ball down a bit at the breakdown. You just can’t give Randwick an inch because you can see what they can do with five minutes to go, they can punish you, so you’ve got to be switched on.

“We’ve got Eastwood next week and the likes of Manly and Sydney Uni to come, so we’ve got to tighten a few screws. We’ll do that over the coming weeks and hopefully get some more wins on the board with some bonus points. I always enjoy myself out there and always enjoy myself when I get the ball and try to pull something from nothing so I’m enjoying my rugby at the moment.”

Randwick head coach Mark Giacheri:

“We were pinned deep on our tryline in the 2nd half for quite a while, didn’t really get any ball, and off the back of that, Easts got a couple of good tries. A couple of cheeky tries for Huia and he had a good game, but we needed the ball to get back into the game, we were stuck in our twenty-two. Once we got the ball finally, we showed some character to come back and score some tries, but it was a little bit too late unfortunately.

“There’s quite a number of teams bunched up and it’s probably more important to win those clashes with the teams you’re bunched up with. Today was an opportunity to try and skip away from Easts or get in front of them and we didn’t do that, so now we’re still in the bunch and Easts can have a bit of breathing space.

“The team’s changed considerably, and probably the challenge now is to get the same fifteen each week at training and into the games and get some continuity. If you look at the game today, at times our combinations weren’t quite there, but hopefully the more games we get to play together, the combinations will grow.”

Eastern Suburbs head coach Lachie Fear:

“There were times when we kicked it away and we shouldn’t have. But all our tries occur in phase, building pressure, and our tactic was to beat them on the edges and we did that with extra men and that’s where the tries came from. I thought we played a good game at pace with the ball, that’s what our game is, like a lot of teams in the comp. We had some issues with our lineout, we went through a period of time of not holding the ball or they had some possession. But I thought we got them through our gameplan, and the guys executed the gameplan well and the result came our way.

“We’ve made some changes in the backline where guys are playing, not necessarily out of position, but in unfamiliar positions recently, and they just needed some time to build up there. We’ve had a few tries scored against us in the midfield on set-piece or 10, 12, 13 defence and that’s where they got their tries again today. It was a better effort but we’re still getting tries scored against us from set-piece and that’s just a few reading issues and combination issues. That’s a good thing, we’ll be able to fix those up in time.

“I think we’re probably three to four wins away from cementing a top six position, I think the 66-67pts area is where you aim for. It won’t really matter where you finish from 3rd to 6th, you’re going to play a good team, I guess it comes down to the circumstances at the time. If you can push to a top two position, you’ll probably get a bye round at a suitable time and get a chance to rest a couple of guys. It’d be great to get to the top two, but it’ll be pretty hard with the quality that’s there.”

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First published by clubrugby.com.au on July 20th, 2010

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