The ARU made us travel an hour to a neutral venue for the clash against Easts. We had great anticipation for victory & our support team was there in hundreds as we filled the sidelines. We were the last hope for Collaroy Rugby Club, the only team to make the grand final & Alastair Keep & Mick Barry also came along in support.
Mark & Al gave our fit squad of 19 their final instructions as our boys ran on for the grand final.
Dylan took their drop kick with style & we held for plenty of breakdowns just in our half as the crowd waited to see which team looked the best early. Loads of bodies in each ruck as both teams were anxious to stamp their authority on the game. Urgency in defense for us as we lacked possession so our tackling was put to the test. Tom & Lachie carried their back over the sideline & the predicted tough encounter was on. We won the lineout, as usual, but failed to deliver a fluent backline movement & dropped the ball as we spun it wide. We defended again with courage & stopped any attempts for Easts to break through our line. No ball our way & Easts were slowly moving towards our line & after five or six break downs they found a way to get across for the first points of the match – conversion missed.
Collaroy 0 – Easts 5
A deep, high kick off & now they were under fire as our boys were desperate to adjust the scoreboard. Nathan & Ollie charged at their forwards in defense as Jimmy showed his size to push over in the rucks with success, we gained the ball back. Will S to Marcus to Luke & we tried to get an elusive line break. Wilson, Curtis & Dean all had a push for the try line as we were now only ten metres out. We were to be denied any points & lost the ball in the breakdown. Mark pleaded with the forward to take control & dig in – they did. Curtis filtered the ball via the backs as we did so brilliantly in the semi final but Easts defence was constantly interrupting our attempts. Rucking was fought hard & Will S & Jimmy were given the chance to take it forward, we fumbled unnecessarily & turned the ball over once again. They went wide & had an overlap only for Nathan to read the play perfectly & take a miracle intercept & ran 50 metres to score a classy try against the run of play – Nathan’s conversion hit the post & missed.
Collaroy 5 – Easts 5
The battle was on! Marcus, Dean & George all made impacting runs as we drove over the halfway line. Their forwards consumed our attack & stifled any opportunity for us to get the ball wide to our speed in Luke & Dylan who were itching for a run. Easts seemed to live offside as the ref held both teams too close. At the 20th minute the ref called half time five minutes early only to be corrected & said he would run the second half for 30 minutes! We were distinctly at a disadvantage having to run up the noticeable slanted ground for the second half.
Mark said “we rucked poorly they are dominating us in the breakdowns. Forwards hit them hard, no one is hungry, get the ball back, don’t slacken off. Get to the bench if you’re not giving your all. Come on boys we can do this”.
We kicked off and smartly retained the ball & our supporters were on their feet as we controlled the breakdowns. We moved towards their line Kai, Tom & Jai showing the way. Again we lost it cold & Easts spiralled three passes across our defense to allow their big centre to gain metres, he was soon shown the dirt by Hayden’s cover defense. Eventually we regathered the ball as Ben took it forward with speed deep into their half. Our penalty & advantage was played as the ref called both teams back to the spot. Now just ten out Curtis took the fastest play the ball & evaded a couple of Easts players to dive across the line before they knew what happened. Nathan’s conversion was successful.
Collaroy 12 – Easts 5
Jimmy was having his best game but we needed more intensity in the rucks & malls. They held possession again for consecutive phases as Kai, Luke & Ben tackled with determination. We were under serious pressure, no ball, near our line & the ball came free & Will D quickly put his foot to it & kicked it over the sideline to relieve our stress. Still hemmed down in the lowest corner of the ground, Nathan’s clearing kick was well placed & got us to 25 metres away for our try line. We needed this lineout, won it, a couple of passes wide & Easts ripped the ball from our clutches only to knock on just before the try line as they would have comfortably added to their total. Lachie elbow to the face & was off after a tremendous game. Play remained just five out as our forwards gave 100% to continually hold them back. We couldn’t sustain the lack of possession & they crept over to score conversion missed.
Collaroy 12 – Easts 10
Mark was searching for answers & replaced some of our boys with fresh subs. Everyone was giving their best as we finally got the ball but were found wanting in securing it for more than a few plays. The biggest ten minutes was left on the clock & we were stuck down in our end but cleared again from Nathan’s boot. We lost the lineout this time & it was to be crucial as their number 13 found a hole in our ranks & ran the right flank to score in the corner – conversion missed.
Collaroy 12 – Easts 15
The biggest four minutes was ahead of us, we again grabbed the ball from the kick off & Dylan was caught high & was down he bravely got up as we couldn’t give away anymore time. Our penalty three minutes on the clock, now 15 out & Jimmy had a hit up but they defended well. Our backs couldn’t get the space they needed all game as the defence was up in our face. We packed down for the last time time, five metres out from their line & the siren was to deny our last attempt at the title we so richly desired! We stood tall next to our team at presentation time as disappointment was felt throughout & Mark proudly announced his players as they received their silver medallions.
Collaroy 12 – Easts 15
Man of the Match
Lachie 3 points, Nathan 2 points, Jimmy 1 point, Curtis 1 point
RACE TO SEPTEMBER – MEN OF THE SERIES
Nathan – 18 points
Will S – 17 points
Hayden – 10 points
Luke – 10 points
Lachie – 12 points
Curtis – 9 points
Ben – 8 points
Special thanks to Mark, Al & Andrew for their commitment to our boys over the season.