Gal­lant Spirit fight to end in nail­biter

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Driveway - Elise Goodin

THE Perth Spirit suf­fered a heart­break­ing three­p­oint loss to the North Har­bour Rays last Satur­day night, de­feated 29- 32 in round five of Build­corp Na­tional Rugby Cham­pi­onship (NRC).

It was a tightly-fought match with the lead chang­ing nu­mer­ous times and both sides cross­ing for four tries.

The Rays notched up the first points when Harry Bergelin took the ball off the back of the li­ne­out and mauled it over, but the Spirit evened the score not long after when they sent the ball in­field to find Am­mon Mat­u­auto, who crossed un­der the posts. Zack Holmes slot­ted the easy con­ver­sion.

The Spirit pulled ahead 16-8 when Holmes con­verted his own try after the backs com­bined with a flow­ing piece of play to send him over, but the lead was clawed back when the Rays’ Sam Ward crossed in iden­ti­cal cir­cum­stances to their first try. Hamish An­gus slot­ted the ex­tras to take it to 16-all.

The Rays took a 24-16 lead after the half-time break when Ward and An­gus com­bined again.

With 28 min­utes re­main­ing in the match, the Rays were down to 14 men after Boyd Killing­worth was sent off for slow­ing the ball down and the Spirit cap­i­talised.

They spread it wide and the player over­lap saw Mat­u­auto dot it down for his sec­ond in the cor­ner to get the away side within three points.

The Perth side found them­selves short when Va’a Mailei was binned, but they kept their de­fence tight to steal the Rays li­ne­out.

With a man down, the Spirit were still able to find the space out wide when Luke Bur­ton sent a long pass out to Dil­lyn Leyds on the wing who crossed for his fifth try of the tour­na­ment.

Holmes’ con­ver­sion put the Spirit ahead 29-24 with 15 min­utes to go.

The Spirit worked the play back down field and looked to be over again when cap­tain Sav­age went over but the scram­bling Rays de­fence held it up.

With just un­der 10 min­utes on the clock, Ward crossed for his hat-trick in the cor­ner and An­gus main­tained his flaw­less kick­ing to put them ahead 32-29.

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