April 29th, 2017 Parramatta First Grade Vs Northern Suburbs, Rawson Oval Mosman

This is the day we stop Northern Suburbs winning streak. Norths have won 19 games in a row which is equal to the All Blacks’ great run. I just feel we have it in us. We caught Eastwood twice last year as premiers and today I have a good feeling. I asked Carso halfback, Australian captain, 1975 premiership winner and stalwart of Norths for a candid comment. Carso refused to make a prediction. I took that as a positive sign.

As the Phantom and I perused Mosman oval from the grandstand where greats of cricket past such as Alan Border, Brett Lee and Parra Board member Richard Hayward played cricket we noted that even sub-district Mosman Rugby has an electronic score board.  I then asked the Phantom what he thought would be a reasonable guess at the worth of land around Mosman per square metre, if we were thinking of making a purchase. The view is spectacular: to the north, Balgowlah and Manly and, to the south, a view through Malcolm Turnbull’s bedroom window (if you stand on tiptoe). After a few calculations and Googling houses for sale the Phantom came up with $12,000 per square metre.

In the first 5 minutes of the game Parra has not touched the ball, however, Parra has already given away a penalty and knocked on twice. Parra’s first penalty comes from Norths’ failing to release the ball. Criminal! Parra hasn’t found touch off the penalty kick. The next penalty goes to North in front of our posts. Norths elect to take the scrum 5 metres out. From the scrum win Norths elects to go left. Wing Robert Duff snuffs out the attack with a great ball and all tackle. Prop Big Dave Lolohea has also made 4 tackles in North’s attack. Fortunately a relieving penalty goes to Parra for Norths not releasing the ball in the ruck. Parra lineout on our 22 metres. The ball goes long to Norths. Who’s calling the lineout?  North’s after a few skirmish knock on for a Parra scrum 5 metres out in front of our posts. Half Waldo Wessels kicks for the sideline. Norths come back at us and spread left and right using the width of the field well. Parra are defending well and force the turnover on our line for a scrum beside the posts on the grandstand side.

Parra have been on Norths’ line for 15 minutes as we throw in from our 30 metre. Parra are able finally to string a number of passes together from Centre Larry Hermens to David Lolohea. However, our hands lets us down as we turn the ball over on half-way for a Norths’ scrum. Parra are back in our own 22. Norths are penalised for not releasing the ball, and  number 8 Andrew Cox and flanker Adrian Musico were all over Norths. Great play boys!  We are finally on half-way. We have controlled our own ball for four phases and have got into their half.  Norths are penalised once again for not releasing the tackled player. We win our lineout on Norths’ 22.  We take the ball up the short side for a knock on by Lock Senio Toleafoa. Norths’ scrum on their 10 metre after 20 minutes of play. Half Waldo causes the turnover and the ball goes to Centre Josh Tupuola who scores in the south eastern corner. The announcer says that prop David Lolohea’s kick for the conversion is unsuccessful. I think he meant to say fullback Johnathon Malo, but it was still unsuccessful. Parra 5 Norths yet to score.

From the kick return there is another skirmish on halfway and both captains are pulled in for a talk. Parra scrum. Norths take a tight head and the advantage is played. Parra are  penalised for pulling the scrum down. Norths kick for touch five metres out. Norths go the short side and the try is butchered by Norths’ hooker who couldn’t hang on to the ball. Parra put in, five metres out on the grandstand side. Norths push us back and Captain Cox cleans up at the back. Norths spread wide and Wing Hayden Cole tackles the Norths winger stopping a certain try. Lock Senio cleans up bringing about a Parra Scrum on the south east corner.  Fullback Johnathon puts up a high kick and Parra tackles the ball carrier. Great follow through Parra!  Norths come back at us on the south eastern side. Unfortunately Norths’ prop is able scramble over for a try next to the posts. Parra have been defending for 30 minutes and have not had the ball. Parra 5, Norths 5. The kick is unsuccessful from in front. Someone is smiling down on us.

The kick return witnesses Norths’ kick out on the full.  Parra win the lineout through fly half Sam Hayward. Thank goodness Sam can catch. It wasn’t meant to go to him. Wing Robert Duff runs through the whole of North’s team jinking and swerving. Robert is pulled just short of the line. He gets up and goes again. Robert is penalised for a double movement. The same movement, that when we played Manly they were awarded try.  Parra lineout on Norths’ 22 on the grandstand side. Flanker Daniel Tamone takes a beautiful two-handed catch as we spin the ball to the east. Parra are penalised for not releasing. Norths kick through and full back Johnathon kicks an up and under and the Norths’ player spills it with Parra pouring through. Parra scrum on North’s 30 metre on the eastern side.  Parra turn the ball over. Norths spill the ball and half Waldo is off with nobody in front of him. The ref is standing with arm up on our 22. Parra penalised for a high tackle.

Parra are vigorously defending our line as Norths turn the ball over. Well done boys, but this is short lived as we give the ball up.  Norths again scramble across for a try. The conversion is unsuccessful. Half time score. Norths 10, Parra 5.

The team stays on the field for the half time talk.  We are going really well and our slide defence is working and we are causing damage in defence. The boys are showing your physicality which is good. In attack we are pushing the pass, have patience. Go more direct, when we do we are breaking their line.  The lineout is poor and we need to rectify this. It looks like Clancy of the Overthrow is wearing No 2; Norths suffer from this a bit too, but are better at cleaning up. We need to win the ruck ball. We are in this! The boys were pumped I would have pulled on a jersey myself. Go Parra a great first half!

Second half, and Parra receive the kick running south to Sydney. Parra are penalised for not releasing the ball. Norths kick for line. Norths attack and fly half Sam Hayward causes a great turnover for a Parra scrum 10 metres out from the Parra line. Number 8 Coxie comes right we turn the ball over. Then wing Hayden Cole forces the Norths’ turnover and fullback Johnathon kicks for touch. Norths’ lineouts, as Norths take the ball down through their forwards.  Norths come left using the width of the field well. Norths score between the posts. Norths convert. Norths 17, Parra 5.

From the kick return Parra have not had a chance to regroup. Norths halfback pops a sweet pass to their centre.  Like a rat down a drain, Norths score. We were in it at half time and now we have conceded 14 points in 5 minutes. Norths 24, Parra 5.  We are defeating ourselves again. We turn the ball over with simple mistakes. Every time we are able to hold the ball we punch holes in Norths’ line. The advantage is being played as Norths run at us down the grandstand side. Norths’ scrum on our 22 metres. We give up possession too easily. The lights have come on and there is not much change. Maybe we can do better in the dark. Parra are penalised once again for offside. The game is slipping away from us as Parra defend grimily.  We have barely been out of our half the whole game. Parra steals the lineout ball but we can’t move out of our red zone. Parra scrum on our 10 metres on the north-west corner.

Parra finally get a penalty for Norths not releasing the tackled player. Parra kick to the south and then we make a break but we can’t hold the ball. A pushed pass again. It was a good half break by us. Unfortunately we don’t respect the ball. North’s kick the ball out on the full after 20 minutes of play in the second half.  Parra take the ball forward though our forwards. North’s are penalised for offside. Parra lineout on Norths’ five metre. Dan Tamone takes the ball down into a rolling maul. Once again we turn the ball over. Norths kick for line and we take the ball forward. We turn the ball over again as Norths go left. Our first instinct is to kick when Norths’ is to pass. Parra turn the ball over once again from our line out. This is a common theme. Norths spread wide and at pace to score. North’s convert. North’s 31, Parra 5 with 10 minutes to go. Come on Parra respect the ball.

From the kick return Parra are penalised for a shoulder charge. A lazy man’s tackle. Norths again spread wide using the width of the field. They knock on for a Parra scrum on our 22. Fly half Sam Hayward splits the Norths’ defence, Adrian Musico is in support as he passes the ball back to fly half Sam and then Sam passes to half Waldo who runs 30 metres to score wide out. Brilliant try! The conversion is unsuccessful. Norths 31 ,Parra, 10 with 10 minutes to go. Parra doesn’t have any time to celebrate as Norths come back at us from the kick return and score simply.  Our defence was rock solid in the first half now we run out of puff as we defend our line.  North’s convert North’s 38 Para 10.

What is killing the team is the simple things; like respect for the ball, silly mistakes and fitness. The first half was the best we played all year. In the second half we have not had the ball and you don’t see North’s kicking the ball.  As I write Norths are scoring at will.  We drop the ball near the posts and Norths pick the ball up and score between the posts for the easiest of tries. We don’t deserve this. Norths convert: Norths 45, Parra 10. We have done Norths a favour by running them into form. We continue to give the ball back to them as score again.   Full time score; Norths 52, Parra 10.

Norths were not that good they were more clinical last year. We had a great first half then we fell away. We lost the mongrel and desire in the second half. Somebody has to lose. If you have done your best and gave it you all then as a club we are happy. There were some great indicators there today. Norths acknowledge that the team’s first half defensive effort was the best they have experienced this year. See you at Chatswood!

Photo Clay Cross / SPORTSPICS