In the final showdown of the 2018 Fortescue Senior Rugby season Kalamunda and Associates ran out onto Pat O’hara Reserve knowing that the next 80 minutes will be the hardest they’ve ever played.
Both teams blasted right out of the gate with Associates securing possession and going on the attack.
Unable to break through an airtight Kalamunda defense Soaks opted to use the boot to gain territory, looking to fly-half Harry Webster he was able to park the Kalamunda defense back behind their own 22.
With the added momentum Associates were able to take control at the breakdown leading to an easy penalty kick taken by scrum-half Ian Prior to put them up 3-0.
The first score of the match seem to light a fire under the Kalamunda squad as they hit back with extreme intent breaking through the Associates backline to find themselves attacking around the 22.
Looking extremely dangerous Kalamunda had Associates on their heels as number eight Auega Seumanutafa broke through the line only to knock the ball on meters from the try line losing possession.
Against what is arguably the strongest forward pack in the league Associates were able to take advantage at scrum time, pushing Kalamunda back they were able to force another penalty enabling Ian Prior to extend the score 6-0.
It an attempt to keep the ball away from a superior Kalamunda backline, Associates focused on securing the ball at the breakdown.
After more impressive work in the scrum Associates gave themselves yet a third opportunity to have a shot at the posts off the back of a penalty.
With Ian Prior lining up to take the kick, once again Associates had no problem in extending their lead to 9 points.
After Associates secured the ball again Kalamunda lifted their defensive pressure to a whole new level.
Stopping Associates in their tracks they were able to force a penalty right in front of the posts allowing fullback Koiatu Koiatu to put the first points on the board for the bulls.
Now with their tails up Kalamunda were able to go on a run and force key mistakes out of Associates, pushing them back into their own 22 Kala now had the opportunity to gain the lead for the first time in the match.
After another increase in pressure on the defense Associates eventually were unable to hold Kalamunda back as inside centre John Tuitavaki pushed over the line from a well-supported pick and drive followed by an easy conversion.
As the first half closed Kalamunda marched into the sheds with a one-point lead. After watching a test match style first half the Pat O’hara crowd anxiously waited for the second half to begin.
Running out to start the second half Associates added Western Force star Rodney Iona into their backline hoping his presence will increase their pressure in crunch time moments of the game.
In the opening moments of the second half Kalamunda’s inside centre John Tuitavaki was sent off with a yellow card putting the bulls down for to 14 men.
Associates look to jump on this advantage and started to put real pressure on the Kalamunda backline, reacting the bulls turned over the ball and went on the counter attack.
Lead by scrum-half and captain Jack Weir Kalamunda showed some magical off load skills to drive 90 metres down the field just being tackled only metres from the try line.
The replacement lock Michael Killiner made an immediate impact replacing NRC recruit Lachlan Valentine, stealing the ball on consecutive lineouts Killiner put Soaks back into attacking position.
After stringing together a good amount of phases Associates’ outside centre Robbie Ingram put on a piece of brilliance scoring a try off his own chip and chase to give his team a six point lead.
Knowing they were only down by six points Kalamunda worked to take back the lead, Western Force Product Henry Stowers made a huge impact coming on in the second half turning over the ball multiple times at the breakdown.
However using the boot Associates were able to keep Kalamunda inside their own half, after a few phases attacking in the 22 Associates decide to send the ball wide.
Received by Rodney Iona he puts on a perfect cross field kick straight to the number 12 Will Godwin making the catch to fall across the line putting Associates up by just under two scores.
The closing moments in the match were dominated by Kalamunda trying to cut back into the lead.
However Associates showed their textbook defense to hold off the bulls securing their first Premier Grade title since 2012 with a final score of 23 – 10.
Updated 08:06 - 28 Aug 2018 by Harry Ayers