Winning their first Premiership since 2009, The Cottesloe Seagulls unveiled immense courage under fire on Sunday to prevail as the Fortescue Premiership Division Champions against an unrelenting Nedlands side.
Both Cottesloe and Nedlands entered the big dance as the two tops teams from the 2019 home and away season, sharing the top spot on the Premiership table the whole way throughout the year.
With nothing to separate these two sides the 2019 Premiership Division Grand-Final was set to be a spectacle held at one of WA’s top grounds in Kingsway Reserve, home of Wanneroo Rugby Club.
Leading into the big game Cottesloe were given an extra injection of inspiration as their Reserve Grade team took home silverware breaking a possible four-year champion streak for Palmyra Rugby Club.
The opening stages of the match saw the gulls dominate both possession and territory, moving the ball through their backline while exploring ways to penetrate the Nedlands defensive line.
Mistakes plagued Nedlands early enabling Cottesloe to capitalized on their errors, continuously propelling Nedlands deep into their own half.
With a strong, hard-hitting forward pack at their disposal it didn’t take long for Cottesloe to show their dominance at scrum time piling enormous pressure on the Nedlands forwards opening holes in the defence.
With only ten minutes left in the first half Cottesloe were able to overwhelm Nedlands on attack sending over number eight Tobias Hoskins giving them the first score of the game, swining the momentum heavily in their favor.
Minutes later the boys in baby blue almost found the white line again after a winger Zubayr Abrahams was able to brake through using a crafty chip and chase.
However, it was not to be as Nedlands winger Christoff Cronje was able to keep Cottesloe at bay with an outstanding cover tackle saving what was sure to be another five-pointer for the gulls.
Throughout the first half Nedlands were under an enormous amount of pressure, finding it difficult to brake out of their own half, however with their season defining defence they were able to keep the margin within seven points.
After a number of tireless tackles Nedlands eventually were able to find their feet, taking the ball on the attack.
Starting to ask questions of the Cottesloe defence Nedlands starting putting the ball in the hands of dominant runners with the likes of fullback Kauri Cudd and number eight Grayson Knapp all taking a number of hit-ups.
Nedlands finally hit the scoreboard late in the first half as prolific point scorer Kauri Cudd brought the score within four points with a beautifully struck penalty goal.
With a slender lead going into the half-time break, Cottesloe needed to change their approach in the second period hoping to halt an ever strengthening Nedlands side who had begun to swing the game in their favor.
Coming out of the sheds for the second half fatigue started to creep into the game with both sides starting to leak mistakes.
Scrum-time started to become an integral part of the game as Cottesloe’s front row started to become the difference between the two sides.
Building off their first half climb Nedlands scored their first try of the second period through hooker Joseph Ritchie who ducked over off the back of a robust rolling maul that walked all over an unsuspecting Cottesloe.
‘Neddies’ suddenly found themselves with their noses in front with a 10-7 lead but continued to face constant waves of attack from Cottesloe who looked to dominate the possession.
Following a string of penalties Cottesloe brought the scores level nailing an easy penalty in front of the sticks.
With the game at a standstill, tensions boiled over as referee Kyle Burnett stamped his authority on the game issuing a yellow card to each side for foul play.
Despite their best efforts, Nedlands were unable to hold out the resolute Cottesloe attack, as man of the match Ivan Fepule’ai inflicted more pain on Nedlands a late but crucial try.
The light at the end of the tunnel began to appear for Cottesloe as they started to lift trying to hold off an attacking Nedlands side
Time quickly became an enemy for Nedlands as they drove all the way up to the try line looking to level the score.
As the curtains began to close, it seemed more and more likely that Nedlands would score and that the game would go into extra time as Cottesloe gave away a dangerous amount of penalties.
However, Cottesloe’s resilience paid off and they held on to clinch a famous victory at Kingsway, with a sea of blue swarming the field as the final whistle blew.
In what was one of the more nail-biting Premiership Division finals of the past five years Cottesloe were able to finish off a roller coaster season with a classy old school defensive win celebrating the breaking of a ten-year drought.