SWSAS win historic Harold Matthews match
Saturday 25th February 2012 was a historical day for the SWSAS programme following five years of hard work and this year the introduction of the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in the SWSAS setup.
SWSAS enjoyed their first ever victory at Harold Matthews level defeating the North Sydney Bears 24-16 in a very sweet result.
Coming off two large losses, the team knew they had a great chance to bounce back with victory against the Bears.
The start to the game for SWSAS wasn't exactly text book gifting Norths early opportunities with soft penalties and errors at the play the ball. With a strong breeze behind Norths it didn't take long for them to post first points with their winger crossing over in the corner.
Down 4-0, the SWSAS team settled down and began completing their sets. As soon as SWSAS got into the arm wrestle, Norths began to crack. On the 15 minute mark, prop Billy Aboulhaf from Bankstown Sports scooped up a loose ball and dived over beside the uprights. Takiika Tairi from the Dragons JRLC landed the conversion, which took SWSAS to a 6-4 lead.
SWSAS should have kicked on from there. Their tails were up and the forwards were rolling and making 12-15m per carry. Excitement would get the better of SWSAS and once again, a couple of back to back errors gifted Norths great field position. From 5m out, back-rower Soloman Pope crashed over sending the Bears to the break leading 10-6.
Down by only four points, the SWSAS coaching staff challenged the boys to go out and do it for each other in the second stanza. With the wind behind SWSAS now, there was a positive feeling that this would be the day for the historic victory.
The SWSAS team came out blazing in the second half. SWSAS completed their sets and kick chased well. With sustained pressure, and excellent go forward. Ray Stone crashed over after some quick exchanges around the ruck. Matthew Wicks from Moorebank landed the conversion to put SWSAS up 12-10. It was a lead 12-10 that SWSAS would never relinquish.
With confidence sky high, the SWSAS team marched down the field with ease. Once again the forwards laid the platform. With some more quality ball, Veiru Mapesone threw the dummy and sliced through to score an important try. Matthew Wicks landed an important conversion to push SWSAS eight points lead.
Once again excitement got the better of SWSAS. Some pushed passes invited Norths back into the game. After back to back sets, Soloman Pope crashed over from close range. With the conversion, SWSAS were clinging onto an 18-16 lead with 11 minutes remaining.
SWSAS lifted and literally snuffed out any hope the Bears had. SWSAS muscled up in defence and forced an error. With a fresh set of six inside the redzone, this was the big opportunity for SWSAS to take the game. They got close twice and produced a repeat set. In the ensuing set, Josh Tupuola-Leoto sent the team into a frenzy scoring a great individual try. Matthews Wicks successful conversion secured a memorable 24-16 victory.
It's hard to pinpoint any particular player ... The SWSAS forwards all played with passion and lead the team well. The outside backs contributed while the halves directed the team around the park.
The SWSAS programme is alive and well with their first victory. The Bulldogs are officially represented in the SWSAS programme for the first time in 2012 with 13 players from the Bulldogs Junior League & Development System and three team officials - Ken Harris (Assistant Coach), Charbel Khoury (Trainer) and Sam Barake (Trainer).
The Bulldogs logo is proudly displayed on the SWSAS jersey and team gear.
A picture says a thousand words of the delight from the SWSAS players and officials at being a part of history.