The Cash Converters West Coast Pirates SG Ball team has had their final trial match before the season begins. It was a solid hit out against the PNG WA RedDust team that they won the Jordan Jacob Challenge 36-12. The PNG side were not an under age team, but a team of men and in a physical game like rugby league provided a good match up for our under 18’s team.
Physically the Pirates matched their more mature opponents and they dominated in the skills department. An early offside penalty from referee Ben Solomon gave the Pirates first chance and they pounced on it with five eight Kade MacDonald with the first of five try assists laying on the short ball for Jackson Bond to stroll over almost untouched.
Next points belonged to PNG as some lucklustre red zone defence was again exposed as Brandon Sam found a lazy A-defender to level the score, but that was as close as the RedDust got with MacDonald finding two unmarked players out wide as Vince King gave the Pirates back the lead and when PNG knocked on at dummy half the Pirates struck again, this time on the left edge as half back Jaydon Solomon isolated Will Smith one on one with his opposite number and he proved too strong.
As the Pirates got a good roll on it was impressive number 9 Trent Wedding from the Northern Sharks in Darwin who capitalised on a quick play the ball to find a crease and give the Pirates a 22-6 lead at the break. The last few minutes of the half saw the Pirates move away from their shape and fail to capitalise on some opportunities, but overall a nice half of rugby league and exactly what the team was looking for prior to their big clash against the defending champion Parramatta Eels next week.
The second half started with one of the tries of the day as the Pirates put on a slick set play involving a run around for Kade MacDonald who in turn found Tyler Hunt, who stood up a defender who rushed out of the line and streaked away to score under the posts.
The Pirates really seemed to up the intensity for a period and asked plenty of questions of the PNG defence which eventually got caught out on an edge once more, this time it was another long ball from MacDonald for Billy Judge who was classy in his spectacular finish in the corner.
The last 10-15 minutes lacked some polish from the Pirates, but I wouldn’t read too much into it as it was a trial game and by this stage of the game they were chancing their arm and trying a few different things with the last pass often finding the ground. PNG snagged another try after Tyler Hunt allowed a bomb to bounce and as he was trying to shadow the ball over the dead ball line Chris Ruk swooped through to plant the ball just before the dead ball line.
The Pirates had the final say in the game with new recruit Daniel Potaka the recipient of another Kade MacDonald short ball. Potaka was previously with the Newcastle Knights SG Ball squad, but has linked up with the Pirates as he’s moved to Perth to live with his Mum in Baldivis.
The Pirates will now set themselves for the big challenge that is Parramatta in round 1 of the SG Ball competition at Ken Allen Field next Saturday from 11am. The Eels boast 5 players from the NSW U18’s Pathways squad including Kyle Schneider who is the only SG Ball eligible player in the senior mens NSW pathways squad. The Eels won the SG Ball last season with their Under 16’s Harold Matthews team beaten in a preliminary final. There will be no tougher test than the Parramatta Eels in 2018 and our boys will need to be at their absolute best in order to compete. A live stream will be available and we will have the call from the balcony, so feel free to come and say g’day and cheer on our West Coast Pirates