Palmyra the ones to beat
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.