Heartbreak for Gulls

Heartbreak for Gulls

NEDLANDS stormed home to win the 2013 Premier Grade premiership at McGillivray Oval last Sunday, running out 20-14 victors over Cottesloe.

The foreshore side overcame a four-point half time deficit to secure the flag having finished runners-up for the past two seasons.

Cottesloe back-rower Nick Haining was named man of the match to provide a silver lining on an otherwise heartbreaking day for the minor premiers.

Nedlands coach Tony Ball was elated to finally break his premiership hoodoo against the Gulls.

‘It’s the most amazing feeling ” to go out like that is something special and I’m really proud of the boys,’ Ball said.

‘We weren’t playing that well but we dug in and showed so much character.

‘In 2010, we played really well but this team has some special players in it and they showed that they have tremendous character,’ he said.

Gulls coach Ian Fowler was bitterly disappointed with the loss but still credited his men with a strong season.

‘It was a great year for the team and the club, we just couldn’t quite get there,’ he said.

‘Congratulations to Nedlands; it’s been a few years coming for them and today it just wasn’t to be for us.’

The overcast but otherwise perfect conditions provided little excuse for errors in general play as grand final expectations weighed heavily on both teams.

The opening stages set the stage for the tense affair as both sides jostled for field position, while Ed Melville and Fred Tuua traded shots at goal to have Cottesloe ahead 6-3.

The try deadlock was eventually snapped when Nedlands grabbed the first five-pointer of the game from an unlikely source, as stalwart prop Joe Richie crashed over off the back of some consistent phase play.

Melville’s third successful penalty kept Cottesloe in striking distance before Ryan Louwrens caught the Nedlands defence napping, when the halfback slipped down the blindside off a short-arm penalty to score untouched and put the coastal club in front to give his side a 14-10 advantage at the break.

The scrumhalf’s touchdown kick-started a string of further challenges for Nedlands, as flyhalf Tuua was carried from the field with a knee injury before referee Graham Cooper lost patience with an ill-disciplined Neddies defensive line when Luke Doherty was sent to the sin bin.

As the second half continued and the four-point buffer remained intact, it looked increasingly likely that the premiership would be heading to Harvey Field until Nedlands found the impetus in the final 20 minutes.

Desperate play from the foreshore men inside Cottesloe’s quarter eventually brought about success, as winger Ben Titoko touched down to give his side the lead, with Mark Davies’ touchline conversion providing the seven-point swing to take a three-point lead.

A late penalty to Davies extended the gap to six points and provided a simple equation for Cottesloe: score a converted try to take back their first premiership since 2009.

But the Gulls were unable to do so as a knock-on into touch brought down the curtain on season 2013 and granted Nedlands their first premiership since 2010.