Match Report for Curtin Irish Ladies vs Cottesloe Ladies
To all who read my match reports, I in no way claim that anything in these match reports contain any kind of accuracy, I am old and my memory is not as it should be, therefore, I submit that I use a great deal of poetic license in the spirit of entertaining reading. If at any point my narrative inaccurately depicts what really happened, (Kat from Cottesloe’s up and under kick offs for example, so it was pointed out to me on Friday), it is either because the reality was nowhere near as funny or interesting as the writing, or I just completely made it up. There is also a slight chance that I mixed it up with something I watched on the telly over the weekend. If I cause any offense in any way then I sincerely apologise and will buy you a beer the next time we meet.
Perth Irish Curtin Goats Ladies (Curtin Irish) vs Cottesloe Ladies
Last week had to be one of the most nervous weeks for me in the build up to the game against Cottesloe. There are a few reasons for this, firstly, there are some old friends from the Curtin Ladies team now playing for Cottesloe. Secondly, we were to go up against probably the strongest team in the league. As it turned out, only a bonus point puts them second to Wanneroo after the completion of the weekend. Thirdly, yes, three reasons…..looking at the squad we had available, we were short of Lorraine our captain, Helen our cannonball 12, Caroline our front row machine, all our regular #10’s Jackie our wing/fullback, Jenny our #7/8 superstar and Emma our Hooker. Despite this, we managed to pull together a squad of 14 with some kind Cottesloe players pitching in to ensure we had a game of 15 a side. This led to players playing out of position as well as players playing for the first or second time in their life against a formidable opponent, not something I would have liked to do myself, if I’m being honest.
Going into the game, looking at the squad we had, with NO players who had any real competitive 15’s rugby to their resume before joining Curtin Irish, Tommy and I were resigned to the fact that it was going to be a very tough evening. The girls were going to have to play their hearts out.
It also seemed the mood in the squad during warmup was rather down, I think the whole team realized what was to come and were not really looking forward to it, a coaches nightmare. So after the warmup we had a little chat in the dressing room to talk about the game. We discussed what a win for us would be, committing to the break down, winning the contact, communicating effectively and stopping the opposition behind the gain line. This is what we had been working on and this is what we wanted to see. The score didn’t matter. We also emphasized the fun side of the game, to get out there and enjoy the game, dig deep and leave everything on the pitch and win the respect of the Cottesloe team and the people who came to watch. Last thing we talked about, actually, there wasn’t much discussion, it was more me on my soap box again, was each individual fighting their own battles, knowing what they have to do, play their role, improve their own personal performances, ensure they are integrating with the team and lifting the team performance. It was Montgomery in WWII who said “Every soldier must know, before he goes into battle, how the little battle he is to fight fits into the larger picture, and how the success of his fighting will influence the battle as a whole”. I didn’t quite put it that eloquently, but I think I made the point.
Curtin Irish to kick off, Cottesloe missed the catch and it went into touch, lineout. Cottesloe retain possession and our back line close down quickly, ball comes out of the first ruck and makes its way to the centers, before 12 can offload, seemingly from nowhere, Dani smashes into her chest height taking her off her feet and onto the ground. WOW! I know I asked for it, but I never expected it! A slight grin crossed my face as I know how much Dani wanted that. Good on YA!
Cottesloe kept possession for 3 or 4 more phases, stretching our defense, who right up until the line break were getting up in their faces behind the gain line, but the speed of the recycling of the ball proved too much and the first time we didn’t close them down they were able to pick up some speed, get the ball out to their extremely fast outside players. A couple of wrong footing our fullback and winger and away they went.
Again, this was to set the tone of the game, something Curtin Irish are becoming very familiar with, so again its all about digging deep, focusing on the objectives and our own personal and team wins. To be fair, the reaction after the first try was good, heads remained up and line speed was, in the most part, good. The tackles kept going in and the defense around the ruck was much better than it has been in the past.
There were a few occasions where we managed to retain possession in the first 20 minutes. Some great carries from Ann Marie, Kate and Sarah. Charley, our little #9 was having a superb game. I overheard some comments on the sideline from the Cottesloe camp about the statue of our scrum half, but also the size of her heart and the aggressiveness of her play. “She’s French” I said….”AAHHH!!!!” was the reply.
15 minutes in and I had to do a count of our team, I wasn’t sure, but it seemed like we had more than 15 players. 1,2,3,4….9,10…14,15…nope 15 players, but there was definitely something I was missing.
The second time we had possession we managed to get across the half way, Kate tearing over the gain line, Charley quickly in, getting the ball out to P-Hyde, out to Dani, a mini break towards the 22. A great tackle by their 13, unfortunately we didn’t have enough in support and the ball was quickly turned over.
2 phases later, Dani, great tackle, prevents another line break. 2 phases and the ball comes out again towards their flyer #13, but before she managed to get up a head of steam, another tackle form Dani. Ball lost forward and a rare turnover for us. 2 phases forward with Maria, and Maz, ball comes out to Dani again, only to be turned over again, which led to a try down the wing.
Then it dawned on my, yes we had 15 players, but Dani was playing like she was possessed, it was like having 2 extra players on the pitch.
Half time. The score, was irrelevant. Its now about pride, working for the team and giving the supporters something to cheer about. I emphasised the objectives again. I added that we should try to get the ball out more, get them to the wings. Let’s give our runners a run.
Another quote comes to mind at this point, I’m not sure how accurate it is, or whether it has anything to do with the game, but I like it so here goes “Return to your friends and tell them that we came here with no peaceful intent, but ready for battle, and determined to avenge our own wrongs and set our brothers free, Let your soldiers come and attack us: we are ready to meet them face to face” William Wallace.
The second half was pretty much the same as the first, we did on one occasion get the ball out to the wing, with Dani making some significant ground before getting the ball to Ewai. From 22 – 22 meter lines, excellent run only to be turned over again for a penalty.
Tired bodies, a few injuries were taking its toll on the team, with Mel off, Laura off in the first 15 minutes, P-Hyde off 10 minutes into the 2nd half (after asking to be subbed 15 minutes into the game), there were some others too but memory is slipping a little.
A big shout out to the girls from Cottesloe who filled in the gaps, each time they entered the game there was a cheer from the Cottesloe girls. Andy, Emily, Niomi are some of the names I remember, apologies to the other 2, but the biggest cheer was for Scrappy, a very apt name. Something along the lines of “Rite, lets go out there and hit these ladies and give ‘em what for” was the first thing she said. One of the biggest pains for us in the first half was now fully subscribed to helping us in the last few minutes of the game. And she is Irish!!! Some people just have no loyalty, as I made quite clear to her, before, during and after the game!
Special mention has to be made to the forward pack. I would say we weighed in about 66% of the pack weight of the Cottesloe pack. Not one of our forward players had ever played a game of rugby (apart from the Cottesloe girl at 2nd row) never mind in a scrum before joining Curtin Irish and they were up against a very formidable, experienced and impressively strong Cottesloe pack. Yes, every scrum was lost, they just shoved us over the ball almost every time. But, our girls never gave up. There were times when I thought about asking to go uncontested, but I decided to leave it to them to decide, it was a massive learning curve, and I could not see any issues with player safety. I learned afterwards they had discussed between themselves the same thing, but decided, no way, we fight on! In my observations of the game as a whole, I believe our forwards faced up to and equaled the Cottesloe team (apart from the scrums). Some real guts and determination there ladies, hats off to ya! I bet there are some sore front rowers today!
So the final whistle blew, relief for our girls. I will be honest, the score was not as bad as I had first expected and I think that goes down to the fact that we made some significant improvements in the basics we discussed. Our girls played with real heart and honesty, everything was left on the pitch, there isn’t any more any of them could have given and I was so proud of them. Talking to the Cottesloe coaches, praises were given by them also. Both could see the potential in the team, this is further reinforcement that we have an awesome team of ladies who are resilient and courageous and have more to give and even more to gain. It’s is a long journey, one we will all take together and in time our efforts, commitment and team spirit will bring us the rewards we are looking for as individuals and as a team!
Player of the day has to go to Dani, Dani and Dani. With our captain out she displayed the same kind of commitment and put in as big a shift as Lorraine would have. An outstanding performance and one that will be remembered for a long time to come. It was noted that it was probably because Dad was here to watch.
Fairy of the day has to go to P-Hyde, who was asking to come off after 15 minutes and when refused found she could actually play for a whole 40 minutes.
Swan Suburbs next week, a game in which we expect to be far more competitive and one we hope to get some points from. So, back to the training grounds on Tuesday! Mahatma Gandhi said, “We may stumble and fall but we shall rise again; it should be enough we did not run away from the battle” let’s do this!