NRC: Second semi-final: What they said

by Brett McKay

Perth Spirit have won through to their second Buildcorp NRC Final in three years, with a dominant 42-24 win over the Sydney Rays set up by their forwards. They’ll meet NSW Country in next week’s decider in Tamworth.

Here’s the fulltime reaction from both camps.

Perth Spirit coach Dwayne Nestor

“I think we really got some reward for our breakdown today, which is really good. I’d thought we’d have to work pretty hard to get the reward, so it was nice to see it finally come through. And the set piece has been great for the last two weeks, so I can’t complain at that display today at all.

“I think we went pretty close to getting that 80-minute performance. There’s still a few little things to work on, a few little kicks here and there toward the end of the game, but I’m definitely a lot happier this week after the win than I was after last week’s.

The Spirit forwards dominated at Pittwater Park. Photo: Getty Images“A happy flight home tonight, and then a bit of work during the week, but really it’ll just be about freshening the guys up and keeping a smile on their dial, because they’re enjoying what they’re doing at the moment.”

Perth skipper Heath Tessmann

“That’s what finals footy has been about for us. It probably wasn’t completely perfect, but the last two weeks we’ve just said we’re playing finals footy, and while it hasn’t always been pretty, we’re finding ways to win.

“The ‘pigs’ are happy today! And we’re back on the bird now tonight, and we’ll start preparing for a big game.

A very happy Perth Spirit after booking a spot in the Buildcorp NRC big dance next weekend. Photo: Getty Images“Second Final in three years now. I missed the last one (in 2014, v Brisbane City), but we’re pretty excited to keep playing in this competition, and any piece of silverware we can play for, we’re happy to try and get our hands on it.”

Sydney Rays captain Matt Lucas

“To be fair, we’re probably a bit lucky we’re not playing another week, because we’d already delved pretty deep into the squad depth because of injuries as it is. For me to pack down at flanker for 20-25 minutes in a game, you know we’re in a bit of strife.

“But the guys never gave up, we scored that late try there, but ultimately, it’s pretty disappointing we couldn’t win through.

Matt Lucas tries to rally his side at Pittwater Park. Photo: Getty Images“I give the Spirit a really good chance. The Country guys will go in as favourites I think, and I do hope from a NSW point of view they can do the business, but they’ll definitely have their hands full with this Perth side.”