Meldrum Cup Round 13 Wrap – Alexandria Dukes vs Liverpool Cougars

Round 12 in the Meldrum Cup had given the Dukes a much improved performance narrowly going down to the competition leaders. Round 13 would be just as tough, taking on the 2nd placed Liverpool Cougars. Liverpool is 1 point behind the lead with 2 games in hand. 1 of which is against the Dukes this Saturday.

It was a weird day down at McKay, it had threatened rain all day, the wind would blow, then it would stop, and the sun would peak itself out and then go away and hide.

Come 3:15, there was no-where to hide on the pitch with both sides very large and ready to rip in.

The Dukes had the kick off and began by putting pressure on the Liverpudlians. The ball was returned back down the pitch and the dukes got to try out their new set piece.

The line out was won, but post execution saw an error which put the Cougars on the attack in side the Dukes half.
The defensive line picked up where it left off 7 days before with some stinging defence, holding out a clawing Cougars attack. It was 10 minutes in when Liverpool went over in the corner after a Dukes mistake on the other side of half way saw the wing open. The try was converted and the score was 7-0.
The Dukes weren’t put off one bit and regathered with an anger in their eye which would put the fear in god himself. From the restart, the pressure was applied. Punishing defence, Incisive attack, and the will to put the body on the line at any cost saw Dave Hooper go over after some good lead up work from forwards and backs alike. The conversion was unsuccessful and the score remained 7-5.
The game was on. Liverpool had not seen this train coming, and it had hit them square in the chin. The Dukes took the restart and promptly place the ball back in the Liverpool half. “Make them do the work”, one loud punter called from the sidelines. And work they would have to. The Dukes smashed the Liverpool forwards as they tried to go through the middle. The backs ripped them apart as they tried to go out wide.
Results again for the Dukes after some strong lead up work and put Liverpool back behind their line again with another try, this time to Luke Greer. Kicking has been an issue this year and today was not going to be much difference it would seem with the 2nd conversion going just off to the right of the posts. Score 10 – 7.

The next 10 minutes was up and down the pitch with Liverpool trying everything to get through the Dukes line, and failing. The last minute of the first half saw the dukes on the 5 metre line with a penalty, and opted to go for 5 rather than take 3 in front. The pressure was on and Dan Cochrane, the plucky little full back was inches away from scoring a couple of times. But a spilt ball on the last play saw Liverpool play their game to the tee, with a quick flick in goal to the winger running 105 metres to score in the corner. The referee blew half time after the conversion was unsuccessful. Score 12 – 10 Liverpool.
Half time chat was positive and the Liverpool players were in shock as to the power of the Dukes. The scrum was working. The rucks were working the maul which hadn’t been utilised much this year had worked. “Let’s keep it going, and play our game.” Was the call from Captain Tom O’Connor.
The 2nd half started with the Dukes receiving the ball and as per instruction hoisted the ball back down the pitch. The defence was there again, but Liverpool was starting to attack the ruck and were coming up with some turn over ball which put the Dukes on the back foot. A deft jink down the left wing saw the giant Cougar charging down the pitch with only the fullback to beat. Now many a man would not have seen what was coming. A small fullback against a 6 foot 4 inch Wendall Sailor look alike at full steam. But in the hit of the year competition this would have to be up there. Dan C, running across lauched himself at the giant and smashed him into touch.
The Liverpool man was left wondering where the 2nd man had come from. But alas there was only the fullback there.

Unfortunately this one act of non-preservation, would not be enough to stop Liverpool from going further in front in the next few minutes. They scored in the corner to go to a 17-10 lead. The Dukes fell into a lapse and started making mistakes and loosing the ball all over the shop. Liverpool went in once more, before the rot stopped. 22-10 with 20 minutes to go.
The Dukes added a late arriving JT to the mix, reshuffling the backline and it paid almost immediate dividends, with JT going over on the first set piece after his injection. The try was converted and the score was 22-17.
The game continued in the same vein as the first 10-15 minutes with the Dukes smashing the Liverpool team from pillar to post, but as in that first stanza, the Dukes could not put the final pass away or found themselves being pulled down just before the line. This led to the Dukes straying away from the game plan and playing Liverpool’s game again. The score line blew out in the last 5 minutes with a try to Liverpool going 65 metres, and a try after the last play had been called. Final score 36-17.

All in all it was a hard fought game and the Liverpool President, said “You have a good side, probably the best that they have come up against this season, definitely the most physical.”
We just fell into the trap at 22-17 of trying to play their style of football, that being ad-hoc, and made a few too many errors which cost us. We need to stick to our structure and we’ll find win these close ones.

If Liverpool is the bench mark for the competition we aren’t too far away.

Points

1pt – Denchie

2pts – Billy
3pts – Hooper

Special mentions to Dan Cochrane, David Hoccom, Koroi, and James Pedersen in their first games as Dukes.
This week we have 2 games so we are going to need all hands on deck.
Friday night, 7:30, we are playing Burraneer @ Burraneer.
Sunday afternoon 3:15, we are playing Liverpool @ Liverpool

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