Rugby

NRC Match Review: North Harbour Rays v. Greater Sydney Rams

NRC Match Review: North Harbour Rays v. Greater Sydney Rams

The Rays and Rams battled it out in one of the slower games of the NRC season, before a speedy end saw a 34 all draw for the two Sydney conglomerates. Although the game was played in perfect conditions it was littered with handling errors and took both teams a long time to find their rhythm.

The Match

Early on the game was played within the middle of the pitch, neither the Rams nor the Rays gaining a significant advantage over the other. Within the first ten minutes there were 4 penalties before either team looked a chance. 17 minutes in The Rays Malietoa Hingano made a small break and looked dangerous, gaining ground to land within 10 metres from the line, however a good steal from the Rams quickly tried to get them out of trouble. The Rays however bounced back to gain a penalty and get a lineout 5 metres from the line before overthrowing the ball right into the Rams hands.

The Rays forwards held an advantage over the Rams pack in the first half. This of course meant the Rams usual style of play, utilising their strong and fast backs was slowed and neutralised their usual advantage in sunny conditions. This eventually resulted in the first points being scored by the Rays Kotani Ale scoring working off the back of a good break from Malietoa Hingano. The try was quickly converted by Matt Lucas with 22 minutes to go in the second half.

With 13 minutes to go in the half the Josh Holmes broke through the Rams line of defence with a kick and chase seeing the Rams flurry for defence getting back in time to hold up the ball after a quick penalty 5 metres out. But the Rams couldn’t hold up for long against a continuous offense, seeing Kotani Ale go over for his second try, converted by Matt Lucas. This led 5 minutes later to Brian Sefanaia scoring with a strong dash through the Rams seemingly weak line of defence.

A last minute counter by the Rams to get on the board occurred when Jerome Mckenzie off a great charge and pass from Ben Batger leaving the half time score at 24-8 after Dane Chisholm’s conversion.

The second half started at the same pace but had the Rams dominate the scoring. 13 minutes into the half Jai Ayoub went in for a try when he stepped inside a bad defensive line after 6 phases of on the line forward play by the Rams. This was promptly converted by Dane Chisholm who 10 minutes later looked like he might score with a break making about 20 metres.

Like the Wallabies game early this morning the interchange played a big part in the later part of the game. The rams had the upper hand here with a grouping of large, powerful and fast players able to come on. The Rays looked to have the opposite on their bench. With 21 minutes to go Dave Feltscheer made a run for it with a chip and chase, unfortunately only to have the ball land directly in Dane Chisholm’s hands while he was sitting at fullback. Feltscheer did a good job to slow and turn to force him out when he tried to run away for the counter.

It didn’t take long however for the Rams to make it to the other side of the field and get into a strong offensive position before Vasa Falealifii made a quick run off a penalty, passing it to the exponentially speedy Jerome Mckenzie for a try under the posts securing the conversion.

The rams failed to stay out of trouble however when the Rays looked to have a strong position 5 metres out from the try line, but Guy Millar got sin binned for not staying on his feet forcing the interchange to come into play with an immediate scrum. Missing a man the Rams scrum got a huge push from the rays, with the backline confusing the defence to see Ed Gower get a try. With Matt Lucas off, Hamish Angus scored the conversion seeing the points go to 32-24 with 12 minutes to go.

With the rams attacking in the next section of play the Rays looked loose and unplanned giving the Rams a huge chance to score. The Rams sent it wide as is their usual play, however a bad pass saw the ball knocked on and play go into a scrum. That didn’t stop the rams however when their scrum put in a huge push to have Dave Lolehea crash over the line to level the score with a conversion from Dane Chisholm.

The time ticked down with the team’s level and the speed of the game suddenly picked up. Neither team showed a great deal of composure with a constant change of possession, but both had strong base skills which saw good offense and defence when you ignored the handling errors. With 2 minutes to go the Rams got a penalty in front of the sticks. It looked like the game would be sealed when Ben Volavola slotted the kick. That wasn’t the case when the rays got a similar penalty slotted by Hamish Angus, leaving the score at 34 all.


The Game Changer

Half time saw the prospects of the teams switch and the Rams looked to have the stronger bench which saw the game direction change.


The G&GR MOTM

Malietoa Hingano performed well for the Rays with strong game play including contributing to Kotani Ale’s first try


Players to watch

Jerome Mckenzie continues to show his speed and smarts can place him to be one of the next great wingers of Australian Rugby (though I still don’t like how they call him the Red Folau). Rams supersub Henry Seavula demonstrated the power he has when he came off the bench. Kotani Ale for the rays scored two tries and performed well in both forward and back play.


The Details

Crowd: 2900

Score & Scorers

North Harbour Rays: 34
Tries: 4 (Kotane Ale x2, Brian Sefanaia, Ed Gower)
Conversions: 4 (Matt Lucas x3, Hamish Angus x1)
Penalties: 1 (Hamish Angus)
Greater Sydney Rams: 34
Tries:4 (Jerome Mckenzie x2, Jai Ayoub, Dave Lolehea)
Conversions:4 (Dane Chisholm)
Penalties: 1 (Ben Volavola)

Cards & citings

1 yellow (Guy Millar)

Rugby

Weird kid with a love of Rugby. Otherwise known as RugbyFuture or Auspanda, there's no doubt Greg is a rugby tragic when you see him wearing one of the 40 international Rugby Jerseys in his collection.

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