The PCS Greater Sydney Rams broke through for their first win of the season last night against the North Harbour Rays. In front of an enthusiastic home crowd at Pirtek Stadium the Rams put in a gutsy effort, backing up from the short turnaround, to hold off a hard finishing Rays to win 23-21.
Committed defence was a feature of the night with both teams being held to their lowest scores of the season so far.
The Rays got just the start they were looking for when Reece Hodge finished off some good team play to score out wide. Hamish Angus nailed the conversion to make it 8 nil after 7 minutes. The Rams hit back soon after when Cohen Masson controlled the ball at the back of an excellent rolling maul to crash over for the first of his two tries on the night. The conversion was unsuccessful.
A bit of push and shove saw Rams Scrumhalf, Dewet Roos, shown a yellow card, possibly for overly vigorous use of his handbag. They Rays took full advantage of the extra man and space out wide for speedster John Porch to run in the unconverted try. Rays 13 Rams 5, 15 minutes in.
With the full complement of players back on the field the Rams started to settle in to their patterns and build some pressure. Local Parramatta flyer Larry Hermens received a rousing cheer from the home town crowd as he scored a great try in the 22nd minute. This was quickly followed by workhorse Masson crashing over for his second meat pie on 27 minutes. Matt Teki converted this one and the Rams had hit the lead 18 – 13.
The remainder of the opening stanza was characterised by big charges and collisions in the forward, with Cameron Orr relishing his starting role and leading the way for the Rams alongside returning hooker Hugh Roach.
The second half opened much as the first half finished. With much of the game being played between the 22 metre lines. The Rams were having the better of possession and slowly worked into the Rays red zone. The inside backs, Asquith, McDougall and Heyer, were combining well in their first start together. Holding firm in defence and continually breaching the gain line with half breaks and strong runs. The Rams had a period of sustained pressure but were unable to cross the stripe.
The bruising encounter was taking a toll. Cameron Orr went off to receive some stitches under his eye and a brutal collision between team mates Carbone and Roach saw both spill some blood. Before Carbone took more friendly fire from Roach resulting in a rib injury which saw him replaced by Will Munro.
Some determined Rays defence forced a loose pass on about the half way line. Former Rams centre, Tom Hill, pounced on it for the Rays and kicked downfield. A foot race with his Eastwood teammate McDougall ensued with Hill getting the better of the bouncing ball and diving over for a try, totally against the run of play. Reece Hodge converted the try for the Rays to regain the lead 21 to 18 with about 15 minutes to play.
The Rams stuck to their guns and continued to maintain possession and work through their phases. They were competing hard at the break down in an effort to win quick ball. The effort was going unrewarded as they conceded a number of, some may say harsh, penalties while on attack. Eventually a penalty went in favour of the Rams, and they kicked into the Rays quarter for an attacking lineout. From the throw to Jed Holloway at the back, the Rams set up a rolling maul which disintegrated the Rays defence to see Jono Hayes crash over for the try. The conversion was unsuccessful, but the Rams were back in front 23 – 21 with less than 10 minutes on the clock.
In an effort to keep the viewers at home tuning in to Foxsports for the whole game, the Rams invited the Rays to set up camp inside their 22. Outstanding defence was holding strong, through phase after phase of pressure from the Rays. Each time the Rams had a chance to exit the red zone something conspired to hold them in, including a Scrum win against the feed by the Rays. Reinforcements were called for in the imposing shapes of Gillespie and Betham, who solidified the scrum and helped the enormous defensive effort.
With 90 seconds to go the Rams finally crossed the half way for the first time in what felt like an eternity. They controlled the ball and ultimately kicked it across the sideline to close out the hard fought and very well deserved victory.
Source: Greater Sydney Rams