A nine-try performance by the Perth Spirit has seen them defeat the Sydney Stars 63-21 in an excellent NRC match.
The Perth Spirit backline put on an eccentric display of running rugby, and when they got going it was just too much for the Stars.
It took a while for the Spirit to get going, kicking away a lot of their opportunities in the first 10 minutes, giving the Stars a 13-0 lead.
They displayed flashes of brilliance, clearing the breakdown well and dominating the scrum, but their fundamentals let them down. They allowed a Stars maul to score a try, and made costly mistakes when catching high balls due to a lack of communication.
But after settling in the backs began to make some moves down the wing, with Marcel Brache, Kyle Godwin and Junior Rasolea leading the charge. This allowed Godwin to get over the line, making the score 13-8.
The Spirit soon got in the tempo of the game, pressuring the Stars defence up against their own line and allowing Ross Haylett-Petty to score a try off the back of a breakdown.
The Spirit’s scrum was one of the most noticeable aspects of their game. Sydney won a few of their own feeds, but when Perth pushed they were able to win some opposition feeds, frightening the Sydney side.
Coach Kevin Foote was happy with his side’s win, commending the forward pack and the fact that they didn’t come unstuck in the second half.
“Guys came on like Chris Heiburg who hasn’t played loosehead for a while and scrummed really well,” he said. “The packs just stepping up every day, and again Sam Wykes is huge there, he just runs the lineout pretty well and we looked like a balanced team, it’s a good effort.”
Perth’s forward pack, led by captain Sam Wykes did not dominate on the scoring sheet, but they commanded the breakdown well, especially against the Stars’ Wallaby second-rower Will Skelton, who played in the first half. Their work at the breakdown made light work for the backs who easily set up play against a shaken Stars defence.
Marcel Brache put in a stellar performance, scoring a try late in the game after setting up many backline moves earlier on.
“The theme for this week was just game management and sort of knowing when we were going to have a go,” Brache said. “I think if you have a look at the game we kicked in areas where we need to kick and we put them under pressure and we out them under pressure and then we isolated them.
“I see Dane, and Mozza [Luke Morohan] scoring tries and I thought I got to come in, and as a back three step up and put some points on the board, luckily Kyle [Godwin] he put two kicks on a string and I messed it up the first time and the second, luckily enough it bounced into my hands.”
The backline’s fitness has improved noticeably since their last home match at McGillvray Park, with Brache saying the conditioning phase since the end of Super Rugby had been very beneficial to the squad.
“We’ve taken a different route and a different step in terms of what we want to achieve, and how we want to play has to do with our conditioning, if we’re not conditioned right we can’t play the rugby we want and I think today the conditioning helped us to put the points on the board, and luckily enough to play a good enough style of rugby to win.
“This is a wonderful stepping stone for a number of guys who are just below Super Rugby level and who can put their hands up and say ‘I’m also here to play’, I think it’s an awesome initiative and it’s going to be great for Australian rugby.”
Ultimately, a few soft tries gave the Sydney score line a glimmer of respectability, but it was Perth’s day.
Fulltime: Perth Spirit 63 (Robbie Abel 2, Junior Rasolea 2, Kyle Godwin, Ross Haylett-Petty, Ian Prior, Luke Morahan, Marcel Brache tries; Ian Prior 6 conversions) defeat the Sydney Stars 21 (Laurie Weeks, Andrew Leota, Paddy Ryan tries; Jack Macklin 2 conversions)