Beasts lack bite as clinical Rats earn a bonus
Photo: SPA Images
Warringah have scored a surprise victory at Woollahra Oval, dominating proceedings to win 35-13 over Eastern Suburbs in an impressive four-try bonus point performance. The Rats got off to a flier with two scores in the opening quarter, and although the home side rallied before the break to trail by eight, a try from winger Michael Dalton barely a minute into the second half sealed the deal with the Beasts kept pointless in the second forty.
Coach Sam Harris hasn’t had too many victories to enjoy since he took up the reins at Rat Park, but this was one that left him beaming. “We were the only team to beat Eastwood last year, which was special, but we really scraped that win. Whereas today was definitely the most complete performance of my time in charge. We didn’t turn up last week against Gordon but this result puts us back on an even keel.”
A couple of early lineout steals gave the home side a chance to pounce. But they failed to capitalise on their possession, and the Rats soon settled into the game with a well-marshalled defensive line and some powerful midfield running from Jackson Selby finding some gaps in the Easts’ rearguard. Two penalties from Hamish Angus drew a three-point response from opposite number Angus Sinclair, before the Rats cemented their good work with Selby showcasing his soccer skills as he grubbered ahead off both feet for centre partner Michael Adams to dot down.
Minutes later, Selby was again the creator as he broke the line and fed fullback Dave Feltscheer on his inside, who threw a nice dummy and streaked over. An Angus conversion gave the visitors a 15pt lead, but Easts started to build some good phases in the second quarter and finally broke through when Luke Irwin was on hand to finish off Anton La Vin’s surge, after the flame-haired centre was stopped just short of the chalk.
Angus and Sinclair – this could get confusing! – traded penalties to leave the score at 21-13 as they went to the sheds, but a minute after the resumption of hostilities the Rats struck the decisive blow. Having regained possession after some sloppy work from the Beasts at the restart, the ball went through the hands to Angus who placed a deft grubber in behind the last defender for Dalton to gratefully collect and finish off unhindered.
The Beasts huffed and puffed for the remainder of the match but the Rats were high on confidence now, and simply choked their opponents back into their own half with a blanket defensive line across the park. Easts couldn’t build any continuity, and while their mantra to resist putting boot to ball this season is to be applauded, a couple of well placed touch-finders may have helped ease them out of trouble at times.
Such was Warringah’s defensive superiority that the home side couldn’t capitalise on two yellow cards in the final quarter, failing to add to the scoreboard in both periods. And the icing on the cake for the visitors was applied by the impressive Feltscheer, who was the right man in the right place at the right time to nail his second and his side’s fourth for a rare but well-earned bonus point. It’s very early days but on this evidence, the Rats seem to be heading in a highly promising direction.
WARRINGAH 35 (Dave Feltscheer 2, Michael Adams, Michael Dalton tries; Hamish Angus 3 cons, 3 pens) defeated EASTERN SUBURBS 13 (Luke Irwin try; Angus Sinclair con, 2 pens) at Woollahra Oval
Warringah head coach Sam Harris:
“It was good, it was very pleasing. Today was a big improvement from last week but after reviewing the tapes we weren’t that far off, Gordon just played a bit of a spoiling game. Starting well was a big focus for us and we’ve been tinkering around with a few things in the warm-up, trying to change things around a bit because we want them coming out frothing from the mouth and ready to go, and that’s what they did today. We also put a few more guys in this week that are good organisers, good talkers and good communicators, and it paid off.
“The try after half-time was huge and we’ve really focused on that period just before and just after half-time. It’s a focus for everyone but we’ve made a point of it at training. Then, when the game was won and we were 22pts ahead with three minutes to go, they were pressing our line and we had someone in the bin. But you could just tell by the chat out on the field and the body language that they weren’t going to get across the line, and that we were going to do anything to stop that. It’s one of those things that – as a coach – helps you sleep a bit better at night.
“I’ve got a feeling that this competition is going to be one of those where it just depends who turns up on the day. I think we just got a little bit lost last week, and now that we know where our game is and what our clear objectives are, hopefully we can focus on them a bit better and play our natural game. We know what the benchmark is now, we just have to maintain it.”
Eastern Suburbs head coach Mark Bakewell:
“It was pretty simple from my point of view, we just made too many errors and our decision making close to our line was poor. We’ve had an emphasis on running the ball – it doesn’t mean we don’t play a kicking game – we’ve just got to rely on our decision makers and their assessment of the game and when to kick. I’m obviously disappointed with the result and we’ll learn a lot from it but the errors aren’t good enough, it’s that simple.
“Through the trials we played some good footy and at times in the last two games we’ve played some good footy, but there’s a real issue with our core skills. We’ve worked hard on our structure and hard on our fitness but that doesn’t mean you’re just going to come out and win the game, you’ve got to execute well and the margins for error are small. Unfortunately, by the errors we made they grew in confidence and off the back of that, we ended up on the wrong end of the scoreboard.
“I congratulate Warringah because they capitalised on our poor play and that’s sport, that’s rugby, that’s what happens. I don’t criticise my guys for intent but I criticise all of us for execution and that starts with me, and works it’s way down to everyone who’s played a minute on the field. We’re all in it together so you’ve got to cop it on the chin and move forward.”
Warringah captain Ben Adams:
“Teams like this, you can’t give them a sniff so you’ve just got to go hell for leather from the first minute. You can build your attack off good defence and we did that today, and I think that getting the first points after half-time was always going to win us the game. We managed to do that and went from there.
“The boys really pulled it together this week. Last week we started slow, we started behind the eight ball and coming into this round nobody expected much from us. But this is what you play rugby for, these are the wins that really set you forward. It’s a shorter season so to pick it up like this in Round Two, it’s looking good.”
EASTERN SUBURBS: 1. Ofa Fainga;anuku; 2. Tom Coolican; 3. Rob McMickan; 4. Phil Mathers; 5. Tom Egan; 6. Will Drabble; 7. Nathan Paila; 8. Pauliasi Taumoepeau (c); 9. Luke Irwin; 10. Angus Sinclair; 11. Scott Ferris; 12. Anton La Vin; 13. Kuki Ma’afu; 14. Eddie Paea; 15. Charlie Clifton
WARRINGAH: 1. Salesi Manu; 2. David Mason; 3. Richard Southan; 4. Ben Adams (c); 5. Scott Flint; 6. James Casey; 7. Boyd Killingworth; 8. Sam Ward; 9. Tim Donlan; 10. Hamish Angus; 11. Ed Doyle; 12. Michael Adams; 13. Jackson Selby; 14. Michael Dalton; 15. Dave Feltscheer
Original version published by Rugby News on April 23rd, 2012