MAJOR SEMI-FINAL 3rd AUGUST 2019
EASTERN SUBURBS ROOSTERS vs LAUNCESTON TIGERS
The Roosters on Saturday crossed the bridge to Rugby Park to renew our battle with Launceston, with the winner going straight to the Grand Final on 17th August. The Roosters, Minor Premiers in 2019 after last year not having a team were on a mission, determined to square this year’s ledger with the Tigers and show that last weekend’s poor performance was an aberration.
We also welcomed back some injured players, including Captain Jake Hyland and his long term centre partner Judd Sherratt and Richard MacNair to form a new look, but familiar back-line.
Easts kicked with a flukey wind that was to make goal kicking a problem throughout the day. In contrast to the Roosters’ general starts this year where conceding a start to the opposition was “normal” they began positively and were rewarded with two early penalties. After only four minutes, a line-out win from a penalty, and a couple of rucks later, second rower Rick Miller went over for a try and Juddy added the extras for a welcome 7 – 0 lead.
The Roosters were soon brought back to earth by Launnie scoring a try in almost identical fashion….penalty, line-out, ruck, through the hands, try out wide. Fortunately their conversion attempt failed, and Easts held on to a slender 7 – 5 lead.
Easts were beginning to dominate the game. Jonathon Elliott was everywhere, winning line-out ball and defending resolutely. The Rooster faithful screamed with excitement when he laid a mighty tackle and scored a turnover. The Tigers managed to scramble the ball into touch. A line-out win and the ball through the hands and instant disappointment when we knocked on with a try waiting to be scored.
The Roosters continued their pressure, and finally 20 minutes in, another line-out win and the ball through the hands Dane Merkel went over out wide. The missed conversion still left the Roosters 12 – 5 leaders.
The Rooster domination was beginning to disrupt the Tigers, and they began to lose some discipline. A yellow card to their loose head prop was the result. The penalty from the yellow went a fraction wide. I think we were using Launceston’s ball, because no matter which Rooster kicked, the ball refused to go through the uprights.
At the 45(!) minute mark, another penalty to the Roosters. No more penalty kicks, the boys decided to run the ball, and Robbie Casboult who was having a blinder at tight head went over. A conversion attempt from right in front….next time we bring our own ball. 17 – 5 at half time was acceptable, and the Rooster people thought this was in the bag.
To their credit, Launnie re-grouped at half time and obviously decided to remind us why they finished No. 2 in the home and away. Where Easts were dominant in the first half, Launnie picked up and reversed the situation. Nine minutes of sustained pressure and the Roosters cracked, with a try and conversion to the Tigers. It was their ball. 17 – 12 to the Roosters.
Six minutes later, another try to the visitors. Their ball turned on them this time, and the teams were 17 all. More importantly, Launnie had sucked us into playing their game. Where we were going wide and around their big forwards, we were starting to try to go through them. This was not good.
With 29 minutes gone, the Roosters earned a penalty. A quick tap, and they were off. The old pensioner Wiggy who had had a rest grabbed the ball and a big hit-up and a couple of nice runs by Juddy saw him over, and with good fortune and a good kick, he added the extras for an Easts lead 27 – 17.
Ten minutes later, the Roosters had their game back on track, but this time going through the forwards, a series of rucks saw the pensioner with his hands on the ball and the try line in sight. Not far to run Wiggy and he made it. Again, no luck with the kick, but 29 – 17 was better than 17 – 17.
46(!) minutes gone. Launnie still hadn’t laid down. While the Rooster faithful were looking at the clock, the Tigers scored out wide, and finally the Ref called time with Easts victors by 29 – 22.
August 17th is Grand Final day. The Roosters made it. A date with destiny looms.
The Roosters best, voted by independent observers:
3 votes Jonathon Elliott
2 votes Robbie Casboult
1 vote Richard Miller
King Rooster Richard MacNair