After the success of 2 unbeaten seasons back-to-back, the expectation surrounding this team are unlike any other. The expectation to win, the expectation to score tries and the expectation to be champions is just "the norm" now. Well, after an incredibly challenging off season, having lost so many players, for the first time in a long time there was an element of uncertainty around what would happen in the first game of the season, in a repeat fixture of last year's Grand Final against Wests....there needn't have been. From the first minute the intent was clear for all to see that this season was going to be no different. With players the calibre of Keegan Dassler taking the field, and leading by example, the crowd's worries were put to rest. Keegan put together a performance befitting of what Reserve Grade has become renowned for. Breaking tackles like a jealous ex wife, and making tackles bigger than an Adult Shop factory worker. He was unstoppable, putting together an 80 minute performance earning him the rightful honours of Man of the Match. The only thing as impressive as Keegan's performance was the stitching quality on Shagger McRae's playing jersey...held together for 80 minutes under great duress. Safe to say that jersey is unlikely to ever be the same again, however that shouldn't be a worry as Shagger also put together an admirable display in the front row, causing West Scarborough's scrum an afternoon of turmoil which surely secures his position this coming week against our "across the river rivals" Nedlands. A return to playing action for Jonny Alston was what the crowds had gathered for this week, and he did not manager to disappoint, spiralling his first kick to touch a staggering 60 metres down field and asserting Pally's territorial dominance, much to the approval of the onlookers who roared in approval. Tries to scrum half, Brett, and left winger, Pau were all that was required in a closely fought 10-6 win to kick start the season with a "W".
Also great to see returning inside centre / first five Nick Ward back at Pally after a spell in England, experiencing the Northern Hemisphere style of rugby. We're still not quite sure if it was the cold weather or fellow Pally alumni Hayden Croghan's chat that has accelerated Nick's return to Perth but, whatever the case may be, fantastic to have Nick back and play an assured role in the number 10 jersey. Unfortunately for Nick, although he's avoided 1 Hayden, we have a new Hayden who has filled that void perfectly...(please see Premier Grade Match Report for further info).
With a very fresh look to the side this year, much like the Reserve Grade, week 1 was always going to be a tough ask. Combinations are still very much in the infant stage, so nobody was quite sure what to expect as the teams ran to take the field on Saturday.
The first half was assured, composed and quite encouraging at times, given that the team had really only had 1 and a half training's to run together as a 15 prior to kick off. Energy levels were high, the intent to go forward and the positivity in attack was a great sign so early in the season. Two penalties to scrum half, Hayden, gave Pally a 6-0 advantage at half time. Hayden also showed us the other side of the coin by attempting a quick throw in, which was about as successful as Adam Marshall's Tinder profile. That wasn't, however, the only quick line out on the day...winger Chris Miller decided he would have a crack too. The outcome was exactly the same as the first attempt, providing Wests with a better opportunity to score than an actress in a Harvey Weinstein movie. Captaining the side for the run out game of the year was Dylan "D Cups" Cunningham. Dylan successfully captained our Reserve Grade last year and in the absence of regular captain, Shane Manu, was given the honour of leading the side out for the first time. As always, the Quokkatron was at his barrelling best, folding opposition ball runners in half as if it were his morning McDouble. Centre, Rachel Davis, was awarded "Most Improved" at last year's end of year awards night. Ra has worked tirelessly in the off season to prepare himself for the 2018 campaign. Having recently found love, there was clearly a spring in his step and that was evident in the way he was able to avoid contact better than Azza McPhee's card at any form of social function. Speaking of which, debutant Aaron packed down at 6 and is another recruit from across the ditch in Noo Zilund, brought across by fan favourite David "Duck" Neilson. Duck is expected to return to action in the next 2-3 weeks which will be a welcome relief for current first five, Kris Setu, who will be able to return to his usual Under 8's fixtures. Brother Jackson will also be available for selection in the next 2-3 weeks which will be a welcome sign for everyone, as a result of both the Short sisters, Mitchell and Leighton, getting their father's genes, pulling up lame before the game and 5 minutes into the game, respectively.
The match ended in a 23-6 defeat, but there were plenty of positives to take away from the day. None more so than seeing our youngest Premier Grade player Marcus Arrindell make his debut for the club. Taking the field as a sub mid-way through the 2nd half. A very talented young prospect and one to look out for throughout the season.
Huge game this week against Neddies over at the Foreshore, who had a BYE in round 1 to start the year. The boys will need every bit of support they can get so we'll look forward to seeing you all down there cheering them on!
Updated 14:50 - 12 Apr 2018 by Palmyra Media