Palmyra the ones to beat

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Looklocal - El­liot Raiter

PALMYRA se­cured the 2017 Premier Grade mi­nor premier­ship af­ter a thrilling one-point vic­tory over Wests Scar­bor­ough at Ben­nett Park on Sat­ur­day af­ter­noon.

Wests took the lead for the first time in the fix­ture with two min­utes re­main­ing, be­fore a Dave Neil­son penalty on the full-time whis­tle sparked wild cel­e­bra­tions for the Pally side.

The win gives Palmyra an unas­sail­able lead at the top of the Premier Grade ta­ble and they will be­gin the fi­nals se­ries in a fort­night as the premier­ship favourites.

Palmyra started the bet­ter of the two sides away from home, con­trol­ling the ball early be­fore a pick and go from Mees Eras­mus opened the play, as he handed off to Michael Fotu for the first points of the match.

Wests struck back im­me­di­ately from the kick-off, earn­ing a penalty, with Wal­ter Koteka mak­ing no mis­take from in front of the posts.

The vis­it­ing side’s pack con­tin­ued to dom­i­nate, with One­hunga Hav­illi prof­it­ing as the num­ber four barged over from close range to ex­tend the lead to seven points.

Wests were again their own worst en­emy as a scrappy li­ne­out saw the ball passed back to the full­back, be­fore Joel Win­ter­burn charged down the re­sult­ing de­fen­sive kick, with the ball land­ing in his arms for the eas­i­est of tries.

De­spite the 14-point deficit, Wests con­tin­ued to show el­e­ments of bril­liance, with Jarome Leonardtekanawa re­ceiv­ing a kick in his back half be­fore a del­i­cate chip and chase eluded the Pally de­fend­ers as the full­back re­gained the ball to score one of the tries of the sea­son.

Both sides traded missed penalty op­por­tu­ni­ties be­fore the half ended in dra­matic fash­ion with a well-worked Palmyra set piece from an at­tack scrum saw Michael Fotu on the end of a wide ball to cross over, ex­tend­ing the lead to 14.

Wal­ter Koteka’s boot kept Wests in the con­test into the sec­ond half, with the num­ber 10 calmly slot­ting two penal­ties to put his side within eight points of the trav­el­ling team.

Koteka then got Wests within five points with 10 min­utes to play, with an­other error from Pally at the break­down see­ing the sharp­shooter con­vert.

Wests prop Nick Mclen­nan snatched the lead with a min­ute­and-a-half re­main­ing, af­ter bru­tally forc­ing his way over the line from close range.

How­ever, Neil­son was to be the hero.

Palmyra re­gained the ball from kick-off be­fore march­ing to­wards the line.

A penalty was awarded to Palmyra di­rectly in front, with the re­place­ment fly­half mak­ing no mis­take, cue­ing wild cel­e­bra­tions from the bench.

A 27-26 vic­tory was enough for Palmyra to clinch the mi­nor premier­ship, with the favourites now ea­ger to add a cham­pi­onship to their sea­son.

In other matches, As­so­ciates de­feated Kala­munda 31-17, Cottes­loe beat Perth Bayswa­ter 52-10, Joon­dalup had a 27-24 win over Ned­lands and UWA de­feated Wan­neroo 60-7.

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