by Matt Kersten ( 17/07/2013)
The whole Blaketown team’s hearts were broken.
They had fought their way through 80 minutes of hard slog, playing a scrappy but tough West Coast rugby final on the McLean Park turf against the underdogs South Westland, when they were penalised right in front of the posts, 20m out, with only a one-point lead at 18-17.
Even if the southern visitors’ kicker, Cory Deans, had not been on fire with his boot, it would have been a simple kick for him, but throughout the game he had not missed a kick, hitting three consecutive penalties from what appeared to be his sweet spot near the sideline.
However, as soon as the ball left his foot, the Blaketown players let out shouts of joy as it sailed wide of the posts and referee Steve Menzies called time.
It was an astounding and exciting end to a relatively low quality match. Blaketown insisted on kicking the ball away, despite looking much more dangerous when they held on to it, and South Westland played their old fashioned, forward-oriented style, with Deans giving them field position with his punting.
South Westland also ran the ball well.
The inside backs, especially Brett McBride, distributed cleanly to the two wingers to make plenty of ground on the outside.
Blaketown, too, used their backs to gain metres but more through crash ball. Centres James Ward and Phil Thomson usually broke the advantage line, however it was at the cost of several opportunities out wide.
The lead switched between both sides regularly. Lock Adam Torrance put Blaketown ahead early when he soared NFL-style over two tacklers a metre out from the line to score, then South Westland took it with a Deans penalty and a try to flanker Richard Campbell having broken the line down the left flank.
Blaketown took the points when they were given a penalty 30m from the posts to be 10-8 ahead at half-time.
Cain added another soon after the break, before Deans’ boot carried South Westland into a game-winning position. His three penalties, all from nearly the exact same spot close to touch, put them 17-13 in front with 10 minutes remaining.
Blaketown’s urgency allowed them to reclaim the lead with only minutes remaining when fullback Robert Thomson scored in the right corner from a quick tap, and Blaketown seemed to have stolen victory before giving away what should have been the match-winning penalty.
Blaketown 18 (A Torrance, R Thomson tries; B Cain 2 pens, con)
South Westland 17 (R Campbell try; C Deans 4 pens).