Red hot Parra leave Rats bewildered
Photo: Karen Watson
Parramatta have lifted themselves back into the Shute Shield finals spots with a thrilling 51-21 victory over Warringah. After two successive losses, both sides were looking to kick-start their season. But it was the Two Blues who held a narrow 15-7 lead at the break, having finally clicked into gear after an opening half hour where the visitors held sway without dominating on the scoreboard.
Parra went up another level in the second half and eventually finished with eight tries as the Rats struggled to contain their pace, movement and execution. A brace each for big no.8 William Tuitupou and the exciting Dan Rawaqa, was complemented by four further tries from the home side’s talented backline. But while the home side’s performance was one to treasure, it’s back to the drawing board for the Rats. A promising start to the season has fizzled away in recent weeks and their previously watertight defence has now conceded a dizzying 139pts in the last three games.
After starting so well, the final result was a bitter pill to swallow, and Warringah centre Ed Doyle didn’t mince his words afterwards. “The coach has just told me we had 41 missed tackles,” he lamented. “If you give any team 41 missed tackles, let alone Parramatta, you give them an inch and they’ll take a mile, so we’re very disappointed with that result. We gave them easy ball and then when you go high on them – which I don’t know why we were doing that – they were just going through us, and I think a couple of those tries were under 8’s stuff so, not good enough really.”
Two Blues winger Damien Fakafanua was one of the standouts for the hosts, having a hand in most of their good work before grabbing a deserved five pointer for himself near the end. He was pleased that the team had managed to see out an 80 minute performance, despite their early wobbles.
“We’ve had a few close games where we’ve matched teams but just failed to finish it off,” he observed. “But I think the courage and determination we showed in the end shows that we can pull games out and hold other teams out if we really want to. There will be negatives from this game and that’s what we’ve still got to work on.”
The mercurial Rawaqa opened the scoring with a 5th minute penalty. But for the next 25 minutes the Rats were in control, dominating possession and territory, and looking good with ball in hand as they found gaps in a rusty Parra defence.
Brad Dixon continued his recent good form as he carved a hole up the middle all too easily in the 9th minute, and had the support on hand to release the predatory Josh Holmes to the line. Dave Harvey converted, and with Warringah keen to go through the hands as much as their opponents – with Dave Feltscheer at the heart of most of their promising moves and Doyle and Dixon his best supporting acts – there was a terrific flow to the game. But they should have added to their tally.
Scramble defence and a huge effort from the impressive Adam Coleman – dominant at the lineout and breakdown, powerful and athletic in the loose – helped to hold them out. But two rare penalty misses from the normally dead-eye Harvey, really let the home side off the hook, and as is often the case in sport, the Rats profligacy soon came back to bite them.
Having spent less than half a minute in total inside the opposition 22 up to that point, Parramatta didn’t waste their first significant foray in the 28th minute, captain Sosene Anesi putting Rawaqa away in the corner, and the flying Fijian converted his own good work.
With Parra’s tails up the Rats suddenly faded, and good work from the Two Blues backrow garnered some yardage, and afforded the quick ball scrumhalf Troy Lobendahn needed to put Rawaqa in again.
The Rats had switched off, and the warning signs for the second half deluge that followed were writ large, as Parra were held up over the line twice in the closing minutes before the break. And it didn’t take long for the floodgates to open in the second stanza, as Parramatta put their foot to the floor and took the game away from the visitors with three tries in 10 devastating minutes.
Tuitupou started the riot with a terrific individual effort. Scooping up off the back of a ruck just inside halfway, he swatted away two Rats, stepped, put on some deceptive gas, and palmed off two more to barrel over.
Almost straight from the restart, the Two Blues went in again. Coleman stole a line out, Parra recycled, and a nice offload from Fakafanua after he’d drawn two defenders put centre Tukia Muli over near the posts. Then it was the skipper’s turn, former All Black and Waratah Anesi putting some magic feet on Conrad Gillingham, fending Harvey, and having just about enough momentum to see off a great tackle from Feltscheer to stretch for the line and a 32-7 advantage.
To their credit, the Rats didn’t give up the ghost and grabbed two more tries of their own before the day was out through Sam Ward and winger Michael Adams. But it was very much a case of swimming against the tide as a rampant Parra cut loose in the last 12 minutes to add three more.
Tuitupou forged another unstoppable rumble from in close; replacement Moses Tavola showed a clean pair of heels down the sideline before finishing with a step; and Fakafanua bamboozled a retreating defence with a couple of twists to glide home and put the icing on the cake.
That gave Rawaqa the chance to take his team over the half-century of points with a conversion, and he never looked like missing.
There was a time not so long ago that fifty plus points for a visiting team at Death Valley was considered a minimum. How times have changed.
PARRAMATTA 51 (Dan Rawaqa 2, William Tuitupou 2, Tukia Muli, Sosene Anesi, Moses Tavola, Damien Fakafanua tries, Dan Rawaqa 4 cons, pen) defeated WARRINGAH 21 (Josh Holmes, Sam Ward, Michael Adams tries, Dave Harvey 2 cons, Scott Bradley con) at Merrylands RSL Rugby Park. HT 15-7
First published by Rugby News on: May 26th, 2013
Pingback: Holmes & Ward: Rats legends reflect on their careers | Behind the Ruck