Parramatta First Grade versus Gordon 24th June, Merrylands RSL Rugby Park

I would like to thank the Apprentice and the Phantom for taking over Two Blues reports while I was away travelling through Russia and the Baltic States. You don’t realise how lucky we are to have worldwide communications that enables you to open up on the Two Blues website and read about the Parramatta team and scores. Getting the results is easy enough through Flash Scores. However, not knowing what is happening is really agonising.

I was able to make it to the University game after arriving at 5 am on the Tuesday. It was a tough ask for all the boys through the grades against Sydney University, after the Saturday cancellation and then fronting on Tuesday night with work the next day.

Every game Parramatta play I know our teams have to work hard for the wins. As nothing comes easy and today games against Gordon won’t be any different. We were able to beat Gordon twice last year and this year we put ourselves under the pump when we played Gordon on 8th May. In the first round we allowed Gordon too much latitude conceding a try in the first 7 seconds and allowing a number tries to their outside backs which made it difficult to claw backing  a win going down 41 to 34 in a close one.

The Two Blues kicks off and are running north to Merrylands Road. The first 10 minutes are always a danger period for Parra. We weather the kick-off after a Gordon up and under. Parra receives the first penalty for Gordon being offside. Parra fails to find touch on the eastern side and Gordon runs the ball back at us with pace. There are number of turnstile tackles as Gordon attacks our line. Fortunately Gordon knocks on for the Parra scrum 5 metres out after 8 minutes of play.  Parra win the scrum and kick to the open side on the east. Gordon turns the ball over and straight away we give the ball back. Gordon spread right and with quick hands score in the south western corner. Gordon is able to convert. Gordon 7, Parramatta 0. We are getting better we are outside the 5 minute danger period by 6 minutes.

The contest is pretty even but we are playing all the game in our own half.  Parra has their defensive structures in place but have not had any ball after 20 minutes of play. Centre Robert Duff is marking up well, leaving Gordon little room to attack.  From our line out on our 22 metre Parra turns the ball over and Gordon spread right to the edges and score in the south western corner again. It is a difficult kick but Gordon is able to convert. Gordon 12, Parra 0 after 20 minutes of play. From the kick restart flanker Daniel Tamone completes a great cover tackle on the Gordon winger. Gordon are penalised and half Waldo Wessels taps and runs 20 metres.  Waldo is caught for a Gordon scrum on half-way. Parra exert good pressure and Gordon knocks on. We have an awesome front row in David Lolohea, Nick Blacklock and Nigel Vaifale. From the scrum fly half Sam Hayward puts up a midfield bomb. Not a great kick or a good idea! Gordon run the ball back at Parra and bomb a certain try stopped by Hayden Cole.  Parra has spent the last 30 minutes in our own half. Full back  Jaline Graham puts in a massive clearing kick of 80 metres. Parra get a penalty for Gordon not rolling away. Parra lineout on half way.

Flanker Daniel Tamone is having a good game and nearly breaks the Gordon line. Finally we are in Gordon’s half only to hear the half-time bell. The referee has been performing well and hasn’t missed much. Parra as a team are slightly off the pace. At a great expense to the club’s entertainment budget there is 100 metre “Undie run” on the eastern side line. Half-time score Gordon 12 Parra 0.

Gordon kicks off to the Tatafu Polota-Nau Pavilion. There is great contest between the forwards as our lock and captain is felled by his opposite number. A ruck is formed and Andrew Cox Cumberland-throws his opposite to the ground. Gordon scrum on Parra 25 Tatafu corner. From the scrum win fullback Jaline Graham is yellow carded for a shoulder charge. A very soft call! Gordon takes the scrum from the penalty 5 metres out in north east corner. The scrum platform is good and Gordon pull a scissor move with a change of direction resulting in a try between the posts. I add that Gordon were piggy backed to this position after 3 successive penalties. Gordon converts. Gordon 19, Parra 0. Parra need to score next to stay in touch.

We are finally in Gordon’s half after 8 minutes of play in the second half. Well done boys! Parra have found their mojo and are playing out of their skins. As a spectator we rarely see Parra go past 2 or 3 phases of play but most often 1. Parra have now completed 10 phases and have the penalty advantage. Parra scrum 5 metres out. After a forward maul and 3 phases of play prop David Lolohea scores between the posts.  Sustained pressure is all we need to do! Para converts in front. Gordon 19, Parra 7. Gordon kick off to Coxie and the Gordon hooker is yellow carded for a professional foul. Parra are on fire as wing Roman oelu finishes off an incredible attacking move and scores under the posts. Roman ran the ball around from the eastern touch line to better our kick for goal. Good play! Parra converts. Gordon 19 Parra 14 after 16 minutes of play in the second half.

From the kick return Adrian Musico breaks through and the ever present Coxie is in support emphatically breaking into the Gordon’s half. It was nearly a try. Parra are playing as unit with great energy. It is heart-warming to watch. Parra spread wide and the try is scored by Hayden Cole in the south western corner. Gordon 19, Parra 19.  Wing Roman Ioelu converts a 45 metre kick that Jonathon Thurston would have been proud of.  Stop the game! Parra 21 Gordon 19 with 20 minutes left on the clock. Parra are playing brilliantly. It is the best I have seen them play this year. Three tries in ten minutes. Can we bottle this stuff? Robert Duff looks dangerous every time he gets the ball. Parra completes 6 phases of play. Parra attack and lose the ball forward. Gordon scrum on the 22 and Gordon attack with a penalty advantage. The touch judge has his flag out. Lock Michael Ross is yellow carded for a high tackle. “Bugger”, as they say in the ads. Questionable call. This is Parra’s second yellow card, and triggered by the same touchie. There was nothing in the tackle other than a slap across the face as the runner was in the ruck. Gordon takes the scrum and score between the posts. Gordon 26, Parra 21 with 10 minutes to go after a successful conversion.

The kick return goes to the big Gordon lock as he steamrolls forward trying to make a speed hump out of fly half Sam Hayward. Fortunately Sam brings him down. Penalty to Parra for Gordon not releasing the tackled player Parra turn over the ball form the lineout on our 30 metre. Gordon forms a rolling maul and scores a pushover try next to the posts. Gordon converts. Gordon 33, Parra 21 with 7 minutes to go.

David Lolohea is playing out of his skin as is Robert Duff and Hayden Cole. Centre Robert Duff makes a brilliant run through the whole of the Gordon team and picks up Hayden Cole who scores the try next to the posts. Parra convert. Gordon 33, Parra 28. Both teams have earned a bonus point. There is 3 minutes to go as Gordon kick deep. Parra has been doing everything to find a way through when fly half Sam lets a long pass go to Captain Coxie standing at slips. Unfortunately it is intercepted by the Gordon fly half and Gordon score between the posts. The conversion is successful. Final score Gordon 40, Parra 28. Another one that got away.

I am over winning. I am now into how the team plays win or lose. I was really pleased in the improvement in the team. The team can score tries and is defending well.  Two Gordon tries came off the turnover from our lineout.  This criminal! Today was a good game to watch. You were the dominant team for 35 minutes of the second half.  The final Gordon try, an intercept under the posts and after the bell, meant that the scoreline didn’t really reflect the closeness of the match. You  all played well. No one can question your commitment. Bring on Southern Districts.

Thommo