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LIONS DOWN BEARS AT HOME TO MAKE IT THREE IN A ROW
Our first graders finally got the chance to play in front of their supporters at a very warm George Burnett Park on Saturday, and made the most of the opportunity, winning an entertaining and spirited game against rivals Willagee to keep them on top of the competition ladder.
The Lions got off to a flyer with live-wire hooker Dean Shepherd catching the markers napping close to the line, burrowing over for a try after only three minutes. The Bears were on the board next, striking back quickly with a try of their own to make it 4-4 early on. South Perth regained the lead at the 15 minute mark when they put the ball through the hands and got it to winger Harry Debique for him to score in the corner.
Harry made it a double with another try that looked like a replay of the one he scored minutes earlier to put the Lions ahead 14-4. To their credit, the Bears wrestled the momentum back with tries in the 29th and 35th minute to have the game tied at the break.
Following a spirited half-time talk from Coach Barney, the Lions came out firing in the second half and it wasn’t long before they hit the lead again with a try to Mark Porges. It was a brilliant individual effort by Porges beating three or four defenders in a determined, zigzagging run to the try line.
At the 50 minute mark, Shannon Coleman in his return from a hamstring injury made a strong hit-up and managed to get a pass away to PK Te Wara who scooped the ball up and took off with Dean Shepherd in support, PK had the presence of mind to get a ball to Shepherd and the diminutive hooker did the rest – touching down under the black dot. This gave South Perth a handy 12 point buffer, but the boys failed to complete their next set and turned the ball over to Willagee - the Bears capitalising with a converted try to make it a 26 -20 score line with 25 minutes to go.
In another play for the highlight reel Mike Gray switched play from the open side back to the blind to find his target Debique with a perfect cut-out pass – Harry crossing over in the corner untouched to bring up his hat-trick. He then converted his own try from a difficult angle to get the lead back out to 12.
Unfortunately, this was the last we saw of Mike Gray as he was sent from the field shortly after for an alleged swinging arm in the tackle -the Lions forced to defend with a player down for the last quarter of the game.
Willagee made the most of this opportunity and scored a try to make it a tense final ten minutes. Luckily for South Perth the Bears conversion attempt was unsuccessful and South Perth held on to the 8 point lead until the siren. Final score 32-24.
Coach Barney said his team played well in patches in a hard fought game. He was not happy with their 40 percent completion rate in the last half hour of the game after they got out to a 12 point lead and stressed they need to be clinical and put the game to bed once they establish a good lead. In saying that, he was happy to get the win over Willagee who are a top 4 team and very difficult to defend against.
Coaches special mention to PK Te Wara who was at his brilliant best at fullback and to Harry Debique who scored 20 points in his first game for the team this year. Mention was also given to forwards Shannon Coleman and Kale Burton who both played strongly in their first games back.
In other games the Women’s League Tag team lost 6-14, with best player taken out by Janey Mackey and the Reserve grade winning a close encounter against a physical Willagee side, 26-24. Best players going to the halves, Bruce and K. Tamata.
First grade best player went to PK Te Wara, with Phippsy also polling votes.
The club would like to say goodbye and good luck to Joss Boyton who is returning home to Muswellbrook. We wish you all the best and thank you for being a great club man. Hopefully we will see you back in the Red V again one day.