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Souths vs Parramatta – Colts Match Report

After a disappointing visit to Parramatta in Round 8, where the only team to come away with a win was 2nd Grade, the Colts were determined to make amends in the return fixtures. The weather was ideal for rugby, with a sunny but cool day, and a dry track provided the perfect opportunity for some entertaining rugby.

Third Grade

3rd Grade started the day strongly, with the forwards dominating their bigger opponents in the set pieces, and providing a lot of ball for the backs. A smart pilfer by Deon Evans-Ao in the Parramatta 22 led to a nice backline move with ball going through six sets of hands before Zane Pratt scored in the corner. Parramatta had some big ball runners, but the Souths defence was holding them well. Souths surged into the Parra 22 on the back of sustained possession, but a dropped ball and a scrum 5 metres out from their line gave Parra the opportunity to relieve some pressure. A tight-head to Souths, however, had Parramatta’s defence in disarray, with Jackson Chambers picking up a good try in the far corner. The conversion by Rob Sitiene took the score to 12-nil. A minute from half-time, Jack Reid spotted a gap I the lineout and darted through, making a 30 metre dash into the Parra 22 before giving a delightful pass to Jesse Mackinnon, who then raced over for Souths’ third try. The conversion was unsuccessful, but Souths went to the half-time break with what appeared to be a commanding 17-nil lead, and hoping to go on with it in the second half.

Sadly, things don’t always follow the script, and a number of penalties after the re-start had Parramatta deep in Souths’ territory. A series of pick and drives drove Souths’ defence backwards, and a mis-match between a big Parra forward and a smaller Souths defender gave the opposition their first try – 17-5. Parramatta had gained confidence, but a good strip by Trivaan O’Mullane saw Souths back in possession, and suddenly Beau Grimley was charging for the try-line, only to be dragged down a metre short. A penalty gave Souths an opportunity but they couldn’t penetrate the Parra defence, so when another penalty came, they took the kick and extended the lead to 20-5. Parramatta regained possession from the kick-off, and more pick and drives in the Souths 22 followed. A smart play on the blindside saw them score their second try, taking the score to 20-12. Parramatta were on a roll by this stage, and they surged back into Souths’ 22. A yellow card to Souths, and Parra scored from the ensuing tap 10 metres out, bringing them to within striking distance at 20-17. Souths then pinned Parramatta in their half for several minutes, despite having no ball, but fatigue was becoming a factor, and a couple of missed tackles gave Parramatta the chance they needed to break out and score what was to be the winning try, with the final score 22-20.

Second Grade

2nd Grade ran out determined to repeat their previous performance against Parramatta, but that wasn’t to be. The earlier clash had been a scrappy, stop-start affair, with Souths emerging victorious with a hard-fought, four tries to two, 22-14 victory. Saturday’s game, however, was an entirely different affair, being one of those matches where the power and energy of the forwards was matched by the flair and pace of their backline, and the combination provided Parramatta with an absolute nightmare for the entire 70 minutes of the match. In all, Souths ran in 12 tries, giving Parramatta a thorough spanking along the way. 68-7 is an impressive win in anyone’s book, but eight missed conversions meant that the score could just as easily have been 84-7! 

Despite being many kilos lighter than their opposition, the Souths forwards were totally dominant at scrum-time, demonstrating once again that skill, strength and technique are every bit as important as size when it comes to scrummaging, and two tight-heads to Souths in the first few minutes were evidence of that. The Souths lineout was also working well, and with the much-improved work at the breakdown, the weight of possession gave the backs the freedom to express themselves. The service from the halves was superb, with crisp, direct passes, and the centres showed that straight running combined with drawing and passing can create doubt in the minds of the defence, and create space for the outside fliers. The mismatch in skill and pace was obvious to everyone watching, and it’s now becoming apparent that the early season strength and conditioning work is really starting to pay off. This was not just a thorough and comprehensive victory, but a clear demonstration of just what this 2nd Grade team is capable of when they really put their minds to it, and the boys should rightly feel proud of their efforts! 

(Try scorers: Tau Penitani 2, Tui Samusamuvodre 2, Ryan Brown, Mau Fatai, John-Wesley, Jack Keady, Blake Taylor, Cooper Harris, Jack Reid & Jacob Hills. Conversions: Steve Zinonos 2 & Trey Browne 2)

First Grade

And now for the main event!! As you’ll recall, 1st Grade were on the receiving end of an surprising, and somewhat embarrassing, loss in the previous game, and nobody in the team wanted to be involved in a repeat performance.

Parramatta started off in possession, but a spilt line-out ball was scooped up by Nathan Lawson, and Souths were on the attack. A series of solid hit-ups followed, pushing the Parra defence backwards, and a quick tap penalty then sent the ball out to Ryan Carmody to go over for the first try. Bayley Kuenzle converted for a 7-nil lead. From a scrum on Souths’ 22 after the kick off, Parra went to the open side, before then cutting back to the wide blind side, where superior numbers saw them scoring their first try in the corner. Souths received a penalty from the kick-off, and a lineout 5m out from Parra’s line almost led to a try, but the defence held. Shortly afterwards, Souths’ skipper, Jacob Storey, had to leave the field following a head clash, but a Parra dropped-ball in front of their posts, and two quick passes, gave Jordan Morris a clear passage to the line. The conversion was missed, and Souths were up 12-5. For the next few minutes, play went back and forth between the 22s, but gradually Souths appeared to be gaining the ascendancy, stringing more phases together, and holding Parra in their 22 when they did have the ball. Souths’ defence was providing no openings for Parra, and in an effort to break things open they went wide to the left, only to see Tyrell Naleba swoop in for an intercept, and run 45m to score under the posts. With BK’s conversion, Souths were now out to a 19-5 lead, and that was the score at half-time.

From the restart, Souths pushed deep into Parra’s half, and a scrum then presented the backs with the opportunity to put the ball through the hands – Carmo chimed into the backline from fullback, and after bamboozling two defenders, crossed over for his second try of the day. The conversion by BK extended the score to 26-5. Souths appeared to be well and truly on top, but as is often the case, someone forgot to tell the opposition! While maintaining possession and making good metres, Parra pushed deep into Souths 22, and a neat step and run back inside by their replacement five-eighth gave him the space to go over beside the posts. The conversion made it 26-12, and Parra were still in the game. The kick-off was taken by the Parra No. 8, and in the first defensive lapse of the game, he beat a couple of tackles to run the ball back into Souths’ half. The momentum had shifted, somewhat, and Souths were finding it difficult to get out of their 22, while Parra were enjoying a glut of possession and an opportunity to use their big ball runners. Parramatta were able to retrieve the ball from a scrum that was going backwards at a rate of knots, and two quick passes put the winger into space in the far corner for their third try, with the score now 26-17. A breakout into Souths territory was thwarted by a neat intercept by Nick Peterson, but a couple of phases later a penalty had the two-blues back in the Souths 22. A relieving penalty gave BK the chance to drive a kick deep into Parra territory, and the line-out win saw the backs in full flight once again, with Cooper Harris going over untouched. The conversion gave Souths a handy lead, at 33-17.

Parramatta seemed to have got their second win, and were making plenty of metres with some strong pick and drives up the middle, while also finding some gaps out wide. After being held up over the line, Parra had a 5m scrum, and were looking to add some more points – sadly for them, though, a flat ball from the five-eighth was snatched out of the air by Tui Samusamuvodre, who then sprinted 95 metres to score under the posts. The conversion was successful, taking the final score to 40-17. 

This game had some real highlights, with Souths proving that the earlier loss to Parramatta was an aberration, and that with successive victories over Easts, Eastwood and Parramatta they are a real threat to every team in the competition. Congratulations guys, and very well done!

Ian Wilson

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