A MUDDY battle at the Foreshore on Saturday resulted in Kalamunda stealing the RugbyWA Cup from Nedlands by just one point in a thriller, thanks to a penalty off the boot of Aidan Shorthall in the dying stages.
Kalamunda coach Grant Oakley said he was proud of the way his players looked after each other on the field and believed performances like that meant they could do some damage later in the year.
“It was a hard game, but the boys dug deep and what we did out there ended up paying off,” Oakley said.
Kalamunda got an early break with a try from Ulrich Engels. Aiden Shortall made the conversion, taking the score to 0-7 in the first five minutes.
Kala’s No. 8 Leo Auvaa set up the next try for the Bulls with a set of play straight out of the books, passing off to Shortall who handed off to No.14 Kerrod Hignett-Stephens, who touched down for the visitors’ second of the contest.
Shorthall failed to convert, to leave the score 0-12.
Kala played with aggression, pushing a resilient Nedlands defence closer to the line.
An offside penalty allowed Kalamunda to take a kick in front of goals, but Shorthall failed to make the angle, leaving the score 0-12 at the 20-minute mark.
Desperate to respond, Neddies managed to get the ball into the 22, pushing through a strong Kala defence to take the ball over the line, only for the referee to rule the ball had been held up.
The Bulls lead by 12 points at half-time.
Nedlands came out swinging in the second half, with Stephen Reamsbottom scoring before Terangi Fraser converted, reducing the margin to five points.
With their confidence boosted, Nedlands went searching for more points and found them when backrower Shane Hemi forced, and the successful conversion put the hosts in front for the first time in the match, 14-12 after 50 minutes.
A strong play off the lineout allowed Kalamunda to regain the ascendancy, with Engels storming across the line and the conversion pushing Kala ahead 14-19, with 20 minutes to play.
Continuing the back-and-forth second half, Nedlands prop Kenneth Macaulay used his size and strength to barrel his way over the line from close range to set up a nail-biting finish as Nedlands took the lead 21-19 with less than 10 minutes on the clock.
A penalty to Kalamunda at the death set up a grandstand finish, with Shorthall lining up the posts for a potential match-winning strike.
True to form, Shorthall spilt the middle to put the Bulls ahead 21-22 in the shadows of fulltime.