Perth Spirit lands title

PERTH Spirit put on a defensive clinic on Saturday night to beat theCountry Eagles in the NRC decider 20-16 at Scully Park.
Nanjing Night Net

Champions: The Perth Spirit beating the Country Eagles on Saturday at Scully Park. Photo: Chris Bath

Eagles skipper and home town hero Paddy Ryan was disappointed by the loss although summed up his opposition’s efforts pretty well.

“It was like running into a brick wall all night,” Ryan said.

Champions: The Perth Spirit celebrate a maiden NRC title after beating the Country Eagles. Photo: Chris Bath

Despite that the Eagles never gave up and had the enthusiastic crowd on their feet in the closing minutes as they attacked the line looking for a victory.

Unfortunately they couldn’t quite get there and the West Australians were able to lift the trophy for the first time in the three year history of the competition.

The Eagles had plenty of early ball as the two packs went at it in the opening stanza, a cross field kick just missed the arms of a flying Reece Robinson who looked almost certain to open the scoring early, before Spirit’s fullback Luke Morahan showed a great touch, with an in and away and then a grubber and regather to score first points with only nine minutes remaining in the opening half.

Three minutes later Perth scored again before Eagles flanker Sam Figg hit back on the bell to be right in the match at 12-8 at halftime.

Not long after the break Perth number eight ??peeled off the back of a scrum and threw an inside pass to put halfback Ryan Louwrensin for his second of the night to go 20-8, before the Eagles hit back through Tom Hillto be only lagging by four points 20-16 with six minutes to go, although the score would stay that way as the Perth defence once again dug deep and held out one last attacking raid.

Perth skipper Heath Tessman congratulated his troops on doing what it takes to win a final.“It’s the old cliche that defence wins championships” Tessmann said.

Fittingly open side flanker Richard Hardwick won the inaugural Phil Waugh Medal for player of the final for his huge efforts in defence and at the breakdown.

“It is a real honour,” Hardwick said.“It is a team sport and I couldn’t have done it without all the other boys.”

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