NRC: Spirit make it two in a row in Perth

by staff

A two-try performance by Brad Lacey has helped lift the Perth Spirit to a 31-21 victory over the Melbourne Rising to secure their second win in a row for the 2015 Buildcorp National Rugby Championship (NRC) at McGillivray Oval this afternoon.


The Spirit started the game backed up in their own 22 for over 10 minutes, however their work at the set piece and on the five metre line was far too strong for the Rising attack. 


This strong defensive effort gave the Spirit the momentum and belief to carry through the rest of the match, scoring five tries to come within seconds of walking away with a bonus point victory.


Perth Spirit Captain Heath Tessmann said the belief the team had in their structures and teammates was what helped them get over the line.  


“We had a bit of a slow start to the year and we really thought that even though we lost a few games early we were still playing good rugby,” he said.


“It was like every bloke on the field was playing for his mate beside him, we’ve got a lot of faith in our defensive structure and our systems and we knew we could kind of repel them all day. 


“Fortunately we ground them down a little bit at the set piece which we started to get some pay from, which fortunately opened it up for our backs to put on a bit of a show, and got a few tries.


“It was disappointing not to get the three try bonus point win but it was good to get our first win over here in Perth, we’ve stuck to our structures lately and we’re starting to really get the wins we deserve.”


The Rising opened the scoring for the match, with Ben Mehan crossing the line after the Rising forward pack built up an unsurmountable amount of pressure over a 10 minute period in the Spirit 22. Mehan found the ball lying at the back of a breakdown in the corner, where he collected it and burst through a hole in a defensive line. Jack Debreczini kicked the conversion attempt from the sideline, putting the score at 8-0. 


Ryan Louwrens helped tie up the game for the Spirit in the 23rd minute, planting the ball behind the line as soon as the Spirit were able to build up attacking pressure. The backline swung the ball across the left hand side of the park, before he powered through the Rising defensive line. Burton’s kick attempt was successful, putting the score at 8-8. 


The Spirit then took advantage of their work on the set piece, with Angus Cottrell finding an opening in the Rising defence off the back of a scrum. He was able to sashay the ball across to Brad Lacey who was running in support down the wing, scoring in the corner to make it 13-8 with Luke Burton’s kick attempt not going up. 


Melbourne’s backline built up pressure in the late stages of the first half, looking to score the final try before the whistle. Stacey Ili found an overlap in the corner to dive in for a try. Jack Debreczini’s missed conversion attempt left the score tied at 13-13 with three minutes remaining in the half. 


However, the Perth Spirit would not settle for a tie going into half time, with Brad Lacey scoring his second try of the day running through the middle of the field to receive a brillaint grubber-kick from Kyle Godwin, running and diving on the ball as it rolled over the line. The missed conversion attempt put the score at 18-13 heading into halftime. 


Kyle Godwin opened the scoring for the second half, receiving a pass off the back of a scrum in the 51st minute to smash through the Rising’s defence and place the ball over the line. Burton's missed conversion left the score at 23-13. 


The Spirit set piece continued to dominate, with Angus Cottrell collecting the ball off the scrum, and powering through the Rising defence to score what would have been the Spirit’s bonus-point try. Ian Prior kicked the conversion to make the score 31-13. 


The Rising closed out the game by extinguishing the Spirit’s hope of walking away with the bonus point victory, with Jonah Placid dodging a tackle down the sideline, to cross through and score under the posts, however it was not enough for Melbourne who would finish the game losing 31-21 to the Spirit after the converted kick by Jack Debreczini was the queue for the 80th minute whistle. 


Perth Spirit 31 (Ryan Louwrens, Kyle Godwin, Angus Cottrell, Brad Lacey 2 tries; Luke Burton, Ian Prior conversions) defeated Melbourne Rising 21 (Ben Mehan, Stacey Ili, Jonah Placid tries; Jack Debreczini 2 conversions).