Sarries Douse Playoff Hopes
It was never going to be easy however, when the dust had settled, the one difference had gone Seattle’s way in an entertaining, 40 – 31 match. Embedded in this blog is the game video (compliments of Seattle R.F.C. videographer). Sunny skies and shirtless fans surrounded Magnussen Park last Saturday. The game opened in the weirdest way when Seattle banged the k.o. into touch. From the scrum at center field, CW was penalised dubiously, for early engagement. Seattle, alertly took a tap penalty, “miles away” from the mark with the runner “shepherding” himself clear. Three passes later, a try had been scored! The ref, momentarily was caught with the proceedings but did take the direct line to confirm the try. The defence was totally befuddled, along with much of the offense. Apart from this error, the M-i-M orchestrated the affair rather well. Unfortunately, as it transpired, there was only to be a one-try difference in the contest.
CW responded at the ten minute mark when Kelliher drove over from a lineout, the first of many quality set pieces on the inbounds by Ceedub. It was to be some time before the next score. CW halted a quick tap penalty and Burger broke up field from the lineout and the runners took play to the Sarries’ red zone. Burger featured again, only to be ousted. Play was exciting and I recommend viewing on utube of this phase if this is all the time you have. At the twenty minute mark, more lineout precision, quick ball to Crossland, Fraser and a “miss” to Ngongo who crossed, untouched, 12 – 5 Visitors. Five minutes later, Seattle’s big pack equalised. CW looked good again as Fraser was driven forward, only for a penalty to result. CW’s third try came from another well-won lineout by Thomas and Kelliher crossed for his brace. Unfortunately, with just a couple of minutes left, Seattle created 4/5 good recycles and a big forward was shunted over the line for a 19 – 17, half-time lead.
The second stanza was only ten minutes old when the Seattle pack got into the red zone, recycled and the score line read, 26 – 17. Thence another magical instance for CW. From the re-start, a hustling Ilnicki sprung high to pinch ball which bounced favourably into Crossland’s arms. The wee man ducked and wove 45 meters for a great solo tally, 26 – 24. Morris was next to break and feed Fraser on a good line and the contact drew a Seattle “yellow”. Despite turning the lineout ball back to Seattle, Burger almost got over from a blocked kick. CW dislayed slight superiority but no points were generated and play ebbed back and forth. At 25 minutes the CW pack gave an excellent shunt and a desperate Sarries’ grubber was blocked by JoMo. He regained the bounce and went 35 meters to score under the posts, 31 – 26.
Unfortunately, that was to be ‘all she wrote’ for the Visitors, despite continued solid play and advantages. Sarries incurred two penalties but no score was generated. Seattle took heart and turned up the heat. CW repelled some 9/10 phases but the Seattle pack had their tails up and retained their field position. With about seven minutes left, big center, Raselika, was unstoppable. The big man had been kept in check to this late stage but figured prominently in the final two scores. Late bench energy also boosted the final Seattle push vs XV Who Played Eighty. The Sarries won lineout ball and moved it to Rasi again. He cut wide, opening a gap for a nice scissors pass to his wing and 40 – 31, final score.
From the match video, lots looked good for CW, except for the final score-line! Ruggernut’s MoM - #3 (Elliot?) in the forwards and Raselika in the backs for Seattle. For CW, Thomas and Burger tied in the forwards with Hickman and Crossland tied in the backs! It was an all-round good effort from the forwards, the FRF more than holding their own with a shining show from Sponarski, proving his worth. McLean and Kelliher also deserve mention. The backs are really firing with the Kiwi Combo, Fraser and JoMo running great lines and showing good understanding. Styles showed well and Anton Ngongo was noticeably physical.
CURTAIN-RAISER “The First Divvies struggled again but worked hard for eighty minutes. While the lads showed no quit, the quest was too great. Although the boys scored three well executed and deserved tries, the response form the home team was quick, physically imposing and relentless. Seattle 38 – CW 17”.
The Sage was on the sidelines and reports; “Strong, organised play by the Seattle squad, with their big men playing assigned key roles well, earned them a good win in a close match. At times for CW, the too loose organisation, lack of size and youthful compliment made this close match hard to sort out. This has been clearly a temporary challenge for the club and already, signs of ‘getting it worked out’ are apparent, thanks to endless work by coaches and players. The Sage sees much to look forward to. This phrase was oft heard at post-match events during the ‘Sleepover in Seattle’. The Home team put on a fantastic post-match reception and meal, giving us all with CW the impression that the journey south and our stayover was greatly appreciated, along with the efforts on the field in both games. The positive spirit in which we came together as clubs and players was truly displayed. Good lads these Saracens!”
FOOTNOTE: A doff of the Ruggernut’s cap to JBAA’s President, Tom Woods. Woody, a former team mate of Norm Hadley’s and a class guy himself, paid tribute to the Big Man prior to Saturday’s Premier tilt at MacDonald Park. Tom’s words gave the assembled a good picture of “Big Norm”. ‘onya, Woody.