Perth Spirit have had two trips across the country in eight days, but this time they’ll head home with competition points, after they repelled everything the Western Sydney Rams threw at them to secure a 30-24 win.
After the first half produced six tries, and with both sides able to take hold of the momentum at different times, the second half turned into a proper grinding affair, as simple mistakes and tired bodies became the order of the day in bright skies and clear conditions at Concord Oval in Sydney.
The second half started as an end-to-end affair as both sides looked to strike the first blow, lifting the speed and intensity. So did the turnovers though, and it was 25 minutes after halftime before the Rams scored the first points.
Mitch Walton had earlier replaced Western Sydney captain Paul Asquith and had an immediate impact, making a line break in the 65th minute to put replacement prop Jack Payne away under posts.
From there, and though both sides created opportunities for points, the game was littered with errors as it became clear that defence was going to be what decided the game.
Perth’s held strongest, and despite losing backrower-cum-lock Onehunga Havili to a yellow card inside the last 10 minutes, they did enough to keep the Rams at bay and hold on for a 30-24 win.
Both teams were blessed with late Wallabies inclusions in the build-up to the game, with big Will Skelton at lock for the second week for the Rams, and Luke Morahan slotting in for Perth at fullback.
It was all the Spirit in the first 20 minutes, with their skipper Jono Lance opening the scoring in the 13th minutes from short range, taking advantage of some defenders on their heels.
Ammon Matuauto crossed out wide around 10 minutes later after not being held initially, and taking advantage of the Rams still being one man down, after lock Senio Toleafoa was yellow carded earlier.
The Rams second-rower made up for his indiscretion though, running a great line to barge over himself minutes after getting back on the field, and this was closely followed by a fourth NRC try in 2016 for Rams hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa.
Asquith converted both tries, and suddenly the Rams were in front, 16-14.
It was short-lived, however, after Spirit winger Eric Vasukicakau swooped on a loose ball from the restart, and he crashed over out wide after a couple of further phases.
On the stroke of halftime, Perth scrumhalf Ryan Louwrens then spotted a gap and darted through from the base of the ruck, with Lance’s third conversion of the half putting the Spirit up 30-16 at the break.
WESTERN SYDNEY RAMS 24
Tries: S. Toleafoa, B. Paenga-Amosa, J. Payne
Cons: P. Asquith 2/2, M. Walton 1/1
PERTH SPIRIT 30
Tries: J. Lance, A. Matuauto, E. Vasukicakau, R. Louwrens
Cons: J. Lance 3/4