Perth Spirit do a job on fast starting Rams

by Brett McKay

Perth Spirit have laid down yet another reminder of how tough they’ll be to beat at home, with their Western Force-laden side putting the Greater Sydney Rams away comfortably at UWA Sport Park.

Spirit ran in nine tries to three at McGillivray Oval, the 61-17 scoreline representing their biggest ever win in the National Rugby Championship.

“I think after last week, we sort of let ourselves down,” Spirit skipper Michael Ruru said post-match, referring to his side’s disappointing loss in Canberra.

“We knew we had a big game this week with the Rams, who had been in tip-top form, so we needed a good performance to turn it around.

“It always starts up front. We’ve got a good pack with solid names in there, but reputation stands for nothing in this competition and you’ve got to front up day in, day out,” a satisfied Ruru said.

A dominant second half from the Spirit blew the Rams completely out of the game, though four converted tries in the first half did a fairly decent job of that initially, too.

Perth ran in four tries in seven minutes from the 58th, with Billy Meakes and Kane Koteka both crossing for their second each, replacement hooker Sama Malolo, and winger James Verity-Amm all crossing as the scoreboard attendants worked up a sweat.

Replacement fullback Brendan Owen crossed from beyond halfway for his first NRC try, and Rams winger John Grant would complete his consolation double late in the game.

Rams flyhalf Mack Mason also scored a late try to ensure it wasn’t all one way in the second half.

The Rams kicked off the scoring, with former Eastwood and Cowra flyer Grant sliding through a gap to score from set piece in the 14th minute, but Spirit flyhalf Jonno Lance’s hard work in barging over the line was rewarded when the TMO confirmed grounding only a few minutes later.

The Spirit found the rhythm quickly, with prop Shambeckler Vui crashing over next to the posts from close range on the next entry into the Rams’ red zone, and they repeated the dose in the 25th minute after centre Billy Meakes finished off some nice lead-up work from Spirit fullback Clay Uyen and lock Richie Arnold.

Meakes broke out himself in the 35th minute, running off a Ruru pass from a scrum in their own 22. Meakes beat Rams fullback Liam Windon, before finding flanker Kane Koteka to run in the last 25 metres.

Both sides were guilty of handling errors in the first half, but it was the Spirit who were making the most of their opportunities. 28-7 at halftime was a pretty fair reflection of their level of control over the first 40 minutes.


Perth Spirit 61

Tries: Meakes 2, Koteka 2, Lance, Vui, Malolo, Verity-Amm, Owen

Cons: Lance 4 Prior 4

Greater Sydney Rams 17

Tries: Grant 2, Mason

Cons: Mason 1