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Georgie's Match Report - Rnd 12


Georgie McHugh's Match Report - Round 12


Well, statistically it had to happen sooner or later this season. After a week of dry weather, Saturday was a glorious Sydney winter’s day and the best conditions for running rugby all year. Your correspondent ran into Coach, Harry Fehily before the game, who almost looked confused when asked the question as to what the tactics would be in these “foreign” conditions. He said something; but, I couldn’t really make
it out.

The opening exchanges saw the Marlins get the ball 45 metres out and then go side to side with seven phases. In a theme that endured throughout the game, they didn’t gain any ground before they were penalised for holding on in virtually the spot they started, with Joey Walton over the ball. Off the back of the lineout ten metres out from a subsequent infringement and penalty, Walton took the ball off the maul to score to the left of the posts after five minutes.

DSC_5283The first score was the start of a bizarre tit-for-tat between the two sides for the next ten minutes as the team who just scored were unable to clear their lines after receiving the restart. After Manly answered with Gordon unable to get out of its red zone, the home team were soon back in attack. From another attacking lineout, the
Highlanders rolled the maul in with Jay Fonokalafi scoring the try to restore their seven-point lead. Following the pattern, Manly pinned the home team in their quarter and ultimately scored, before the Highlanders answered almost immediately through Tom Foran off the back of yet another penalty line out.

Finally, Gordon were able to break the cycle as they attacked from the kick off and their pressure caused Manly to infringe three times in one movement. Going deep into the opposition half, the Highlanders’ hard carries had the Marlins’ scrambling defence on the back foot. Johnny Akauola charged at the defensive line and was tackled eight metres in front of the posts, where Manly’s defence disintegrated as they failed to commit any men to the break down, allowing captain Milan Basson to pick up and stroll under the posts. With 13 minutes left in the half, the home team secured a bonus point and lead 26 – 14, with Will Kaye having converted three from
four attempts.

Despite both teams each having a couple of further opportunities to add points, including Manly being denied metres from the line after the bell, that was the half time score. With Fonokalfi, Liam Usher and Tristan Fuli having another dominant outing in the scrum and the attack putting the Marlins’ defence under pressure, the Highlanders would have been very keen to go on with the job to exploit the best conditions so far this season.

DSC_5472The try of the afternoon came soon after the restart as Gordon turned the ball over from the kick off. Following a few phases that had the Marlins once again scrambling in defence, the referee extend his arm for advantage 15 metres out to the right of the posts. Ben Pollack, playing with the House’s money, threw a triple cut out pass to a flying James Armstrong to score in the corner in front of the Trumper Stand faithful. There was then a period of back and forward, as Manly had the better of the territory. The exemplary defence kept Manly at bay until fifteen minutes into the half, when Basson caused a turn over on his own ten-metre line, before Harry Emery did extremely well whilst isolated to keep the ball and advance it to the half way line.

The ball was then spread across the backline to see Brandon Quinn charge to the attacking quarter line. From the subsequent phase, Fuli broke the line and put Pollack under the sticks to take the score to 38 – 14.

The Highlanders could have been immediately in trouble after failing to gather the kick off. Once again their resolute defence, a poor Marlin’s line out throw and meaningful charge from Ben Kafer into the teeth of Manly’s defence saw Gordon out of trouble. A penalty for dangerous play, as Usher was tackled in the air, allowed
Pollack to kick for the line inside the Marlin’s quarter. With twenty minutes remaining, Cam Wood and Ola Tauelangi (on for his first sanctioned appearance of the year) came on to add fresh legs to an already dominant pack.

Soon after, Fonokalfi scored his second try for the afternoon in almost identical fashion to his first. He was rewarded with an early mark as Will Bremner, Oli Hannon and Siketi Tevao replaced an excellent starting front row. In the final ten minutes, Gordon added a couple more tries, first to Wood from rolling phase play and then 65-metre run from Oli Arcus after an intercept in the dying moments of the game.

Manly scored a fourth try in between Gordon’s last two and the final score was 57 –28 in a comprehensive victory to the men in tartan, where the Marlins only really had opportunities when Gordon failed to clear their lines from the kick offs following a score. Gordon’s scrum had a clear points victory and the line out, once again lead by Jack Margin, was a daunting task to contain.

DSC_5256This weekend, Gordon head to Coogee to take on Randwick for the second time this season, following a hard-fought tussle resulting in a narrow 19 – 13 win for the men in tartan. As the rain once again returned to Sydney from Sunday, I have given up trying to accurately predict what the weather will do and simply pray for a dry track.

It is one of the great away games in the competition and it would fantastic to see Gordon supporters fill the ground.

The following week sees Gordon host another high-flying opponent in Eastern Suburbs, when the Highlanders will be more than motivated to avenge their close loss in round two at Woollahra. Get down to Chatswood to support your team.

There is still plenty of great grassroots footy to watch in season 2024 as we edge closer to finals.

Until the next time we meet, make mine a Grants. Up Gordon!

Georgie McHugh

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