It was about 2.30pm on Sunday afternoon and as Cookie addressed his huddled team in the middle of Jack Manski Oval, the alarm went off. It was their wake up call. The 2011 Premiers had just defeated Centrals 44-28, but, it was hardly as convincing as the score indicates.
FLAT is how the coach described it. “I thought we lacked enthusiasm and perhaps we had got ahead of ourselves in terms of the season’s progress.” “We pride ourselves in our defence in the middle of the ruck, but, it was poor today.”
After letting Centrals score first the boys kicked into gear and skipped away to a 28-10 lead before Centrals applied some pressure and narrowed the gap to just 6 points. “We didn’t respond to that pressure as well as we would have liked” Cookie mulled. “But, I guess we needed that game to prepare us better for Brothers next weekend.”
Cookie singled out front rower, Craig Hollingsworth as having an outstanding game. While not happy with the performance, it’s got to be gratifying to the team and officials that they can play poorly, but still come up with a win.
Doigy, is starting to realise that being Reggies coach is like being the love child of a prostitute and a homeless guy .. you get used and you’re always begging, borrowing and stealing. After losing players to A Grade, Doigy was still hunting for Under 18s to back up on Sunday to fill a bench spot.
The 32-20 victory makes it two on the trot, but it was really hard work. The big Centrals pack started strongly and they scored within the first 5 minutes and the signs weren’t good. The Saints settled after that and Dean Rogers, who was playing his first game back since a serious knee injury in 2011 scored a strong try. His reward was Doigy’s punishment, as he was quickly replaced to sit on the A Grade bench.
The referee was particularly severe on slowing the play the ball and ruck infringements were penalized with both teams copping it. It was the Tigers stronger kicking game in the first half which had them constantly pressuring the Saints line. Despite too many missed tackles, Uni still managed a 10 all scoreline at half time.
Uni couldn’t capitalize on an excellent Daryl Pearson 40/20 straight after the break, but it did signal what was to come. Pearson tormented the Centrals defence with some pin point kicking, particularly chip kicks just behind the line which had the opposition guessing. Travis Cook capped off a strong game at dummy half with a try mid way through the second half to put Uni in front.
Centrals, however, will be lamenting a golden opportunity to go in front when their half back ran under the posts, but opted for a fancy put down rather than secure a try by falling to the ground. They never recovered from that ‘Dropped Try’ and The Saints skipped ahead to secure the win.
Doigy was in everything, both in attack and defence and front rower Tristan Clarke continually carted the ball up and saved a certain try when he chased down a runaway Centrals winger. Backing up from under 18s, Adam Wilson had a strong game, as did Gene Morgan who ran and chased hard all afternoon.
The old saying, “A win’s a win” was resounding in Tony Martin’s head after the A Grade game. “I was happy with the result, but disappointed with the process.” The A Grade coach was particularly disappointed with the two dummy half tries to Clint Amos early in the second half as the ex-Cowboys hooker turned Uni’s 18-12 half time lead into a 22-18 deficit.
The final scoreline of 36-34 was a fair indication of how close the game was as the lead changed on numerous occasions. In the end it was the boot of Nathaniel Bowman that made the difference as he converted all of Uni’s six tries. His combination with brother, Trevor, was a highlight of the match as his crisp passing and Trevor’s astute hole running saw them continually cause fraying of the Tiger’s defensive line. Together they had a hand in four of the Uni tries.
The Bowman Brothers kicked off the scoring in the 7th minute after converting a strong period of possession in the Centrals 20 meter zone and they finished off the half with a brilliant effort, when Trevor scooted down the left sideline and while tiptoeing the line, he put a deft infield kick just short of the try line for his supporting brother to scoop it up and score. In between, fullback PJ Hart was taken from the field with a double ankle fracture.
The second half was littered with poor ball security, allowing Centrals to repeatedly fight back. But, it was once again the Bowman Brothers who combined to put Uni in front when a clever angled run by Trevor saw him wrong foot several defenders and score under the posts for Nathaniel to convert. Unfortunately, poor goal line defence on the back of an other error, once again saw Centrals claw back the lead 28-22.
It was at this point that the FUGS at the bar got what they wanted. All afternoon they’d been waiting to see noted speedster, Rogan Dean in the clear. After being put there by Trevor Bowman, the Centrals cover was left wondering whether the flying winger had discovered time travel, as the distance he covered didn’t seem to match the time it took him to get there. Then with 5 minutes to go, Dean was at it again, accelerating easily around a clutching cover defence and when confronted with the last defender, flicked a great underarm ball to Fred Haynes to score under the posts.
Tireless captain, Jack Cooper, finally succumbed to the punishment he endured and volunteered for all afternoon, when he went off with a rib injury with 4 minutes remaining. But, a converted try to Centrals right on the final hooter balanced out the accurate final result.
NEXT WEEK: A real test this Saturday (5th May) as we come up against Brothers at JOE BAKER FIELD. We want a strong contingent of FUGS support to cheer on the teams.