This match was played at McKay Oval in Centennial Park due to upgrading work at Easts home ground. Luckily it was a beautiful afternoon, but even so the spectator facilities at the ground soon had many of the onlookers wishing longingly for the lush facilities of Merrylands RSL Rugby Park!  We hope for the sake of Easts, that the work on Woolarah Oval will soon be completed. The hard central cricket pitch area, had one old Parramatta forward who shall remain nameless (but who normally writes match reports), reminiscing about smashing opposition (and in turn being smashed) on cricket pitch centre fields all over Sydney.

Parramatta took the early lead in the match due to a Haden Cole penalty. Unfortunately this did not last, with Easts scoring in the 5th and 10th minutes to take the score to Easts 10 Parramatta 3.

In the 22nd minute David Lolohea scored after Parramatta controlled the ball for 16 phases – yes, (this is not a typo) 16 phases. The conversion by Hayden Cole levelled the scores. In the 28th minute, from a scrum inside the Parramatta half Jaline Graham pushed off an Easts defender, making a break down the right hand side of the field. His pass found the flying Hayden Cole who scored in the right hand corner. Unfortunately Hayden’s conversion from near the sideline hit the post, leaving the score at Parramatta 15 – Easts 10. This try has since appeared on Facebook as a nomination for try of the year.

In the next eight minutes Parramatta had a deal of luck as Easts missed scoring two tries due to firstly a knock on and then a forward pass.

Waldo Wessels made a terrific 35m break late in the half, but unfortunately, due to several turnovers, Easts found themselves camped on the Parramatta line on halftime. The game extended 5 minutes or so due to a series of Easts penalties from a repeatedly reset scrum. Easts were eventually awarded a penalty try taking the half time score to Easts 17 Parramatta 15.  During the half, Parramatta were heavily penalised in comparison to Easts, and this combined with a general failure to control possession, led to a heavy defensive workload.

The second half saw Easts score after 4 minutes after a Parramatta turnover. A Hayden Cole penalty in the 8th minute saw the score go to Easts 24 Parramatta 18.  Another good break by Jaline Graham a few minutes later was looking promising until a knock on inside the Easts quarter ended the raid.

Another try to Easts following several Parramatta turnovers took the score to Easts 38 Parramatta 18 and the match was starting to have a familiar look. In about the 25th minute Parramatta received a penalty when an Easts player was binned for a high tackle.  From the resulting play, Waldo Wessels almost scored before the scraps were picked up by Andrew Cox who scored near the right hand corner. This was to be Parramatta’s last score for the match. Easts 38 Parramatta 23.

Several more Easts tries resulted in the final score being Easts 52 Parramatta 23.

Once again, nobody could question the effort of any of the Parramatta players. Both props had strong games and all of the forwards played their hearts out. Jaline Graham, Waldo Wessels,  and Hayden Cole made good breaks and Waldo gave smart service to his backline who all played enthusiastically.

Overall, Easts scored most of their tries from broken play when Parramatta did not have their defence set. Better control of possession would have minimised this broken field play and restricted East’s scoring, as well as minimise Parramatta exhaustion from defending. Ironically, a count of Parramatta possession reveals that over all they did a better job of holding the ball in the second half than the first, but the consequences of a turnover in the second half had greater scoreboard repercussions.

The current first grade team is relatively inexperienced, so hopefully if they can stay together and keep their enthusiasm better ball control and more wins will come with greater experience.

Congratulations to the third Grade Colts team who have already made the playoffs, and who will fly the Two Blues flag proudly in the men’s competition.

Finally, good luck to Thommo who is off exploring the Queensland outback and Uluru. I guess we will see him again before the wet season sets in.

The Thommo Phantom