Perth Spirit can fly under the radar no more, with a completely dominant nine tries to five 66-36 bonus point win over Queensland Country in Perth.
The win consolidates the Spirit’s spot in the Buildcorp NRC top four, but came after seeing literally no ball for much of the first quarter of play at UWA Sports Park.
Second half tries to Spirit scrumhalf Ryan Louwrens and winger Marcel Brache sealed the win soon after the break, after which fatigue from all the first half defence began to take a toll.
Luke Morahan crossed for a second half double – and a game treble - to give Wallabies coach Michael Cheika a nice selection headache ahead of the South African tour.
Queensland Country ran in tries to replacement hooker Feleti Kaitu’u, centre Duncan Paia’aua, backrower Jack Cornelsen, and fullback Tom Banks after the siren to add some respectability to the final scoreline.
“We’d spoken this week after being two (wins) from three about winning our home games, so it was good for us,” a satisfied Perth skipper Jono Lance told Fox Sports after the win.
“Momentum’s a pretty funny thing, and for us to hold on for that first twenty minutes while Queensland Country fired plenty of shots at us, you gain a lot confidence in attack from your defence.”
Earlier, defence was the name of the game for almost the first half an hour of play, where Queensland Country did nothing but attack from the start of the game, and Perth Spirit did nothing but tackle.
Spirit did eventually get the scoreboard moving in the 26th minute, when prop Shambeckler Vui crossed under the posts after Ben Tapuai beat four defenders in an area not much bigger than a table top.
Wallabies and Western Force winger Morahan – wearing the Perth no.15 jersey – then produced a piece of individual counter-attacking brilliance, when after fielding a kick through he stepped through the first wave of defence, chipped ahead and won the race to the ball for a definite try of the year contender.
Flanker Ross Haylett-Petty then scored twice in the last few minutes before the break, pushing Perth out to a very handy 30-0 halftime lead built completely on their excellent defensive effort in the first quarter of the game.
Super impressive centre Izaia Perese was a standout for Country, with his attacking stats looking well out of place in a team beaten so comfortably.
PERTH SPIRIT 66
Tries: L. Morahan 3, R. Haylett-Petty 2, S. Vui, R. Louwrens, M. Brache, A. Matuauto
Cons: J. Lance 6/9
QUEENSLAND COUNTRY 36
Tries: F. Kaitu’u, D. Paia’aua, J. Cornelsen, M. Mason, T. Banks
Cons: M. Third 1/1, M. Mason 2/4