2024 Club Update – Round 06

Hyvää huomenta Cobbers,

Welcome to the match reviews of Round 6, played out on Saturday 1st June 2024, wherein the DDR did welcome the Mosman Whales to Drummoyne Oval in weather more befitting Whales and other associated water-borne creatures than we mere land-lubber mortals. It was Old Boys Day, it was Veterans Day, it was Sponsors Day, it was a day to work out the Boolean mathematics of marquee assembly, and overall it was a Red day splashing about in the mud and herculean amounts of rain. And so, with the wins overshadowing the losses, and the laughs overcoming the groans, the two-blues of the financially destitute Mosman met the red, yellow and black of the DDR head on in the muddy mire.

Sutherland Cup (5th grade) – Won 22-5
The Red Brekky Crew awoke up on Saturday at 6th on ladder with only 4pts to show from 4 matches. Their rivals woke up one spot lower with 0 from 3 starts and zero points. So the clash against the Whales on the shores of Canada Bay shaped as a proper Wooden Spoon clash if ever there was one, with all the issues around pride that surround such matches. As usual, late notice unavailability’s and calamities made for some nervous pre-game moments, but ultimately the side was formed, the intent distilled and the field taken for the clash of the cellar dwellers.

Trotting out on the back oval, in the grey and overcast, the match opened with Oli Edwards starting the accounts with a pie, followed by Hugo Dubler and then one from Tom “I’m not playing” Zwart before the Mossy lads Outside Centre grabbed a pie of their own back. But the Dirty Brekky Crew weren’t quite done with Nick “I’m just visiting” Cramp grabbing the last pie to put the matter to bed and Luke “Superboots” Jones finally jagging a saucy squirt conversion to close out the day. Somewhere in there the Mossy No8 was served cheese for high tackling, but that was about the end of it.

The bonus point win remarkably only shifted the Brekky Crew up one notch on table to 5th spot, with the lads now being 1 from 6 and 9pts. That said, with Forest not fielding a 5ths, it’s now time for the lads to have their official bye and a well-earnt fortnight off to have a good look at themselves in the mirror and ponder where their season is headed.

Judd Cup (4th grade) – Won 8-5
The Red Juddites awoke on Saturday still very much hurting from the blown opportunity of the weekend prior. And with Mosman managing a 24-all draw with the Blue Goats, the Red 4ths were acutely aware of the need to lay down a good win, for their own confidence and pride if nothing else. Such was demanded being 0 wins from 5 starts for 5pts and so last on the table. Conversely, Mosman were ranked a comparatively dizzying 5th , with 1 win from 4 starts and 6pts. So it was with clear eyed intent that the 4ths did muster their fortitude, gird their loins and did sally forth to do what they knew they owed to themselves and their club.

Comments from Supercoach Heller were tinged with palpable relief with his opening comment being ‘After six goes, we finally came away with the win’. Being gracious in victory, Supercoach did also acknowledge that it was possibly the worst 4th grade side he had ever seen the Whales field, and so down-played his own sides achievement, but nonetheless commended his lads on their level of effort and commitment in both trying conditions and a bloody difficult season to-date. Supercoach acknowledged that the Piggies found their pods quickly, and those pods simply ate metres up, especially when utilising the hazard or tip-on options. These half-breaks created a retiring and disjointed defensive line among the Whales that then allowed the Red Backs to expose holes around the wider fringes, particular through the 13/15 channel (does this sound familiar to anyone?). And whilst certainly not played in the deluge seen later in the day, the conditions were heavy and dewy, resulting in slippery ball, breaking momentum and making scrums all over the paddock, which again suited the more cohesive Red side. So, while the score seemed a tight 8-5 to the Red Men with a pie to Tonga and a penalty to Charlie Yeoman, the match was well won by the Red Juddies and the relief in the group was phenomenal.

3 points – Josh Wheatley, 2 points – Jack Walker and 1 point – Nick Cramp.

After the succession of close losses and an astounding 3 draws, the much needed win elevates the Red Juddites from last to 5th on table with 1 from 6 and 9pts. Against that, the upcoming opponents Forest are 7th (or 2nd last depending on view) on 1 from 5 and 7pts. Again, depending on view, this could mean the Greenies should be an easy 5pts, or it could mean they will be desperate to regain some pride. Either way, our Red Juddites are in no position to ponder too deeply, being only mid-table themselves. So it’s all there for the Red Men to take control of their own fortunes, should they choose to.

Whiddon Cup (3rds) – Lost 7-5
The win over Lindfield the week prior meant the Red Widows came into Saturday as 3rd on table with 2 wins from 5 starts for 12pts. Against that, the Mossy Whales had been fairly belted by the Blue Goats the previous weekend to the tune of 41-8, and so had tumbled to 7th with 1 win from 4 starts for 5pts. As such, the Red Widows were eyeing the match-up as a real opportunity to consolidate a spot firmly in the top part of the table. Alas, it was not to be.

Comments from a despondent Supercoach Scully were that the result was made so much more difficult to swallow after the manner in-which the lads had opened the match and posted such a stellar ‘dry weather’ try. But ultimately, it was the Widow Warriors own selves that proved the greatest opponent, with a stupendous number of breakdown penalties, and an inability to get clean first phase ball, meaning the Red Widows simply gave the Whales too much field position and possession to withstand, particularly on such a wet day. There were some highlights though, as pointed out by Supercoach, including a superlative display of handling and passing in the disallowed Jope try, an impressive gallop through the slop by Matty Moore, and some old guy charging “Damn near half the length of the paddock” (allegedly – the ‘old guy’ himself disagrees) before running out of breath and “collapsing in a heap” barely 10 metres short of the try line (that bit the old guy agreed with) much to the delight of the similarly-aged veteran-viewers in the marquee. On a more serious note, Supercoach noted that the defence shown by the lads in the conditions was ‘remorseless’ and ‘simply fantastic’ and if the match had not been inexplicably cut short by some 5 minutes by an exceedingly eccentric referee, who knows what may have happened. Ce sera sera.

Points went as 3pts to Sam “rinse & repeat” McKenzie, 2pts to Zippy Yippy (although you weren’t zippy enough to catch up to the old fella were ya?) and 1pt to ‘no try’ Jope.

Given the variance in Whiddon Cup results in the year to date, plus the make-up games in-hand for others, the loss somehow leaves the Red Widows still in 3rd spot with 2 from 6 on 13pts, 5pts behind the Blue Goats and 11pts adrift the accelerating Waverley. Meanwhile Mosman stay at 7th with now 2 from 5 for 9pts, while the Jolly Green Giants are 4th on table with 2 from 5 on 11pts. As such, the Forest lads are uncomfortably close and so it will be a match that both teams will be determined to win on the 15th June.

Barbour Cup (Colts) – Lost 38-0
Hoping to rebound from the disappointing loss against Lindfield the weekend before, the Red Baa Baas came into Saturday somehow still in 4th spot with 2 wins from 5 starts. Thus, the stage was set for the lads to dust themselves off and set their sights on the battle royale against the 4 from 4 Mosman Whales, who sat in 2nd spot behind only the 5 from 5 Hunters Hill lads. So while the Red Barbourians surely went into this fixture as the underdogs, they were nonetheless very much in the hunt to pull an upset, particularly in the degenerating weather, and throw a cat among the pigeons well and properly.

Comments from Supercoach Rowdy were that it was a brave showing from Drummoyne, to compete so well for so long against a team he predicts as the team with the best form to win the Colts premiership this year. Rowdy recounted with pride that despite only having one man on the bench, the lads started with a lot of heart on the pitch. And the lads commitment and tenacity was well rewarded, going into oranges at 7-0 to the Whales. Frankly, the underdogs were matching their much more regarded opponents all over the field. However there was only so much the lads could do. A yellow card early in the second half, a dislocated shoulder and a concussion to top it off resulted in the Red BaaBaa’s battling on with only 14 rapidly fatiguing men against an extremely capable side with a bench full of replacements. It’s always hard to beat the top side a man down, and Saturday was no different.

Points went as 1pt to Jordan Lancaster, 2pts to Luke Qalovakarua and 3pts to Will Cardwell.

The loss hasn’t changed much on the table. Mosman stay in 2nd spot given the Hunters lads are still on their unbroken run (now 6 from 6) and the DDR are still 4th despite the loss, on 2 from 6 and 10pts. Given Colleagues sit in 3rd also on 10pts, the Red BaaBaa’s could use the upcoming opportunity to put the 2 from 5 and 6th placed Forest lads to the sword and break into the Top3. So buckle up for a rip and tear day lads as this sort of fixture is the type to shape a season either way. Who dares wins.

Burke Cup (2nds) – Won 14-5
The solid result against the other destitute denizens of the northern suburbs at Lindfield surprisingly kept the Red Burkies confined to 5th on table with 2 wins from 5 starts for 10pts. But given Forest and Hunters were likewise 4th and 5th on table with 10 & 11pts on ladder, opportunity did knock for the Red Burkies to make a move northwards with a win over the Whales, to then potentially push into the top section of the table. That said, Mossy had surprised all in their previous outing by pushing the Blue Goats to a 29-all draw. So the lads knew it was not going to be an easy match. And so it proved to be.

Comments from Supercoach Woz was that the mighty 2s had barrier-trialled ‘brilliantly’ during the week and that form looked to translate to the by-then submerged pitch, with the early signs promising in terms of territory and possession. Supercoach then went on to wax poetic, noting that “The rugby gods have a habit of punishing spurned opportunity” and so noted the Mosman piety as, despite the early Red dominance, the Whales duly scored from their only flirtation in the attacking half. And so-emboldened, the visitors reversed the earlier form to take some possession and field position in the driving rain, and force Drummoyne into an extended period of hard defence, in-which the Red Burkies did well to keep their line in-tact. A refocussing of attitudes at the break brought the desired change in fortune after oranges, with the home side adjusting their depth, running smarter lines and hitting rucks with purpose. And so, whilst the Blue Whales did defend superbly, Captain Cory Griffin eventually scored on the back of relentless pressure, before a second pie by Ben Austin sealed the contest. With three wins from the last four outings, Supercoach is certainly more elevated than in previous weeks, but his undertone was clear – to be sure the momentum was maintained and the lads not get in-front of themselves.

Best for the reds were Cory Johnstone (1pt) and Ben Austin (2pts) with the three points awarded to Niall ‘Evergreen’ McDermott in his long awaited season return to 2nd grade. Well done those lads.

The win lifts the Red Burkies into the Top4 at 3 from 6 for 14pts, 2pts behind 3rd placed Hunters Hill, while Mosman stay welded to the bottom at 0 from 5 and 5pts. Upcoming combatants Forest are 6th on table at 2 from 5 on 10pts and so, if faith be put in tables, are a cherry ripe for picking. But ‘laxity is a laxative’ as my dad used to say, and a loss of focus now would undo the momentum the Red Burkies are starting to build. So it’s imperative the lads be light in words and fast in deeds over the coming 10 days as they prepare to lay another stone in building their season.

Kentwell Cup (1sts) – Won 22-7
The Lindfield loss certainly surprised everyone in Red. But it was what it was. The loss moved the Red Kenty’s to 5th on table on 2 from 5 for 9pts and looking for answers. Against that, Mosman had been humbled only once in the season so far, and that was the weekend previously by the Blue Goat juggernaut, doing them over 45-12. So the Red Kenty’s were well and truly underdogs going into the Mosman fixture. But we were at home. And it was Vets Day. So the air was thick expectations and ‘In my day…’ stories, all in the hope that this would prove to be the day when the Red Kenty’s finally unleashed the obvious potential that the side clearly has inside of it. And so with great expectations abounding, the Ref blew time on for what turned into a remarkable game…

Comments from Supercoaches, Supersecretary and Superveterans were that, with the whistle sounding in near ‘cyclonic’ conditions, the lads were well-focussed on two issues: that they needed the win and that a win against the competition no2 Mosman would not come easy. Further, they were also aware of the weight of expectation and history, given the Veterans and sponsors were braving the conditions and watching on from the marquee (vino in hand). Thus all the pressure was on the Red Kenty’s. But they squared their shoulders nonetheless and were clearly determined to not let the Whales spoil the day. That said, Mosman clearly did not get the memo and came out hard from the jump. And the Mosman attack showed itself to be relentless and remarkably cohesive in the conditions. Accordingly, after a period of mutual introductions and softening up, it was the two-blue Whales with the upper-hand (fin?) at the back-end of the first stanza, hammering our try line intensely for the last 15 minutes of the first half, with constant mauling and pick & drive work. But all in Red were committed, so the line held true. The Red Piggies in-particular were ‘up for it’ with some ferocious defence in tight dark places, to deny the Whales any joy. Thus it was the Red Kenty’s who took the spiritual lead by enduring the Blue Whales storm, keeping their thin white line unbroken, and going to oranges at 0-0.

The heart that the defensive effort gave the lads was palpable in the sheds over the break. The group was obviously relishing the challenge. And this Red Kenty team was showing they were ready to go back out and give everything they had.

And such determination was needed as, soon after the break Mosman reminded all present of their status on the table by posting and converting the first pie of the match. However, if anything this seemed to spur the Red Kenty’s on. And some deft kicking from Ben Halmarick, Lachie Palm and our diminutive fullback Liam Doyle, the Red Men started to shift the match more into Mosman territory. With the territory pressure came the handling errors and so the Tight5, but particularly the front row of Tommy Botting, Callum Richardson and Christian Vanezi came into their own, with some immense scrummage and tight work. Thus the Whales visibly started to tire under the physical bombardment. And from there, the dam wall broke and the tries came. Firstly it was Simeli (Max) Salabogi to grab a pie, then Ben Halmarick and then Alex Wilmore had a turn. On the 3rd go, Ben Halmarick landed the conversion sauce, and that seemed to break the Whales spirits and seal the game. But just to prove Mosman do not like large Fijians running at them, Max grabbed a 2nd pie and the Reds secured the crucial bonus point win.

Closing comments from the Supers of various types were that no doubt this was a tough game, played in some of the heaviest and most testing conditions seen in almost everyone’s memory. The Piggies came in for particular mention and among them, No 8 Sione Junior Takelo was recognised for his best game since joining the club. But the coaching staff were clear that every one of the Dirty Red’s who took that field could be proud of their effort and drink the wine knowing they had done our club proud. Points went as 3pts to Super Sione, 2pts to Pieman Max (how many is that now?) and 1pt to Junior Amituanai.

The result lands the Red Kenty’s in 4th spot with 3 wins from 6 starts and 14pts, one spot behind the now-vanquished Mosman who slipped from 2nd to 3rd. Against that, looking forward, Forest are 7th (or 2nd last depending on your preference) with 1 win from 5 starts and 6pts. So another much needed 5 competition point win is clearly on the cards for the Red Machine if they prepare and then execute as they should – and now know they can. But if this season has taught one thing, it has been that nothing is to be taken for granted. So get your head in the right space lads and make yourselves proud.

Well that proved to be a good day. Wins to 5ths, 4ths, 2nds and most importantly 1sts, allowed some club pride to come forth, for players to smile, for Vets and Sponsors to warble away the evening safe in their cups, and a few stray whispers and fears about relegation to be put to bed. That said, many thanks to the Mosman Whales. They showed up, they had a hard day, and their 3rds and Colts showed their wares. They are a proud club and they will bounce back I’m sure. For us, many thanks and acknowledgements to all who put so much effort into the weekend. These events require a massive amount of work, even without the biblical amount of rain that fell to make the workload that smidge more onerous than it already was. But despite that, to see that little marquee still ‘heaving into the evening’, almost in defiance of the weather, was a grand sight to see.

Given we have no catch-up games to play, it’s a proper long weekend off now to let bodies heal, appetites whet and the periodic mid-season reintroductions to long-ignored wives and girlfriends be attempted (careful there lads). So with that, have a great break folks. And do something nice, because next week it’s heads-squared, boots-on and mouthguards-in as we make our furthest sojourn north to take on the jolly green giants of Forest at Melwood Oval. My spies tell me that Warringah are starting to slide a bit in the various Shute grades, so I expect Forest to get mysteriously stronger the longer the season goes now. So don’t be fooled by the Forests’ currently generally low table status. Let’s get it on.

Boire le vin.