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Fleet sinks Perth Spirit

Article Published: Saturday 25 August 2007
Edited by: Sports Digital Media
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An ill-disciplined Perth Spirit squandered a possible win when they went down 35-25 to the Sydney Fleet, amassing four yellow cards during the course of their Australian Rugby Championship clash on Saturday.

The Sydney side was afforded a valuable win against competition favourites the Spirit, as they capitalised on the opportunities the yellow cards - two of which went to Perth flanker Richard Brown - left their opposition spending almost half the game with only 14 men on the pitch.

Perth took control of the match early on and led for the first 30 minutes of the game before they were handed their first yellow card. The result was that the Fleet capitalised and a 15-0 advantage became 15-15 on the half-time hooter.

The second half saw the hosts take the lead, posting five tries in all, lead by full-back and man of the match Gavin DeBartolo, who scored one of the tries, and added a drop-goal and conversion to his tally.

The Spirit opened the scoring in the first half with a try from Nick Cummins in the fourth minute after the winger collected an overhead pass from full-back Cameron Shepherd as a well worked backline move saw skipper Matt Henjak slip a pass through to Cummins.

Shepherd missed the conversion and the visitors were 5-0 up.

The next points came from a try by centre Junior Palesasa in the 15th minute when he collected a beautiful cut-out pass from fly-half James Hilgendorf to sprint 22 metres to the corner for the try after rounding his marker. This time Shepherd converted, 12-0.

He wasn't so lucky with his first attempt at a penalty in the 18th minute, but his next attempt a few minutes later from 30 metres out found the mark and the visitors were up 15-0.

With Henjak leading from the front, it soon looked like the men from Perth were on their way to a comfortable win.

The perception didn't change even when Sydney fly-half Daniel Halangahu got their first points in the 22nd minute, but then eight minutes later it all changed as Hilgendorf was sent to the sin bin after putting in a dangerous hit on DeBartolo.

The Fleet took advantage of the extra man and a fine piece of individual work from DeBartolo saw him field the ball 40 metres from his line, sprint across the face of the opposition and into a gap outside Pelesasa, chipping past the cover defence and collecting to touch down in the corner.

Halangahu missed and the score was 15-8.

Then the Spirit were down to 13 as Brown picked up his first card for infringements at the truck. The resulting penalty saw the Fleet launch a spirited attack and prop Jeremy Tilse barged through to score for the Fleet on the half-time hooter. Halangahu was on the mark and the score was 15-15.

The second half kicked off at frenetic pace as a flurry of tries came in following Shepherd opening the scoring in the 43rd minute with a penalty kick.

The first try of the second half came soon after as the Fleet took the lead for the first time when winger Anton LaVin was put into a huge gap in the Spirit's defence just 30 metres from the try-line. He cracked on the pace to evade cover defence and score.

Halangahu missed and the score was 20-18.

This was not for long though as a few minutes later DeBartolo fed a great up-and-under collection to wing Andrew Barrett to score in the corner. 25-18 to the hosts.

Brown picked up his second card on the 50th and left his side a man short for the rest of the clash, giving the Fleet space to further increase their lead with a Halangahu try. DeBartolo converted. 32-18.

The visitors were far from finished, and a great interchange between Ryan Cross and Shepherdsaw the latter scoring as Cross flicked a pass inside to Shepherd who was in support. He converted his own try and the score was 32-25.

The fourth card of the game - Fleet's first - went to Tilse in the 70th minute on the clock before Perth winger Cummins earned the fifth yellow card of the afternoon in the 74th minute when he tackled Halangahu in the air.

Spirit still threatened to score the late and possibly equalising try, but DeBartolo sealed the game when he kicked his drop-goal from 30 metres out.

The scorers:

For Sydney Fleet:
DeBartolo, Tilse, LaVin, Andrew Barrett, Halangahu.
Cons: Halangahu, Gavin DeBartolo
Pens: Halangahu
Drop Goal: DeBartolo

For Perth Spirit:
Cummins, Pelesasa, Shepherd
Cons: Shepherd 2
Pens: Shepherd

The teams:

Sydney Fleet:
15 Gavin Debartolo, 14 Anton La Vin, 13 Morgan Turinui, 12 Tom Azar, 11 Andrew Barrett, 10 Daniel Halangahu, 9 Nathan Sievert, 8 Tim Davidson, 7 Patrick McCutcheon, 6 Dean Mumm, 5 Adam Byrnes, 4 Will Caldwell, 3 Dayna Edwards, 2 Atonio Halangahu,1 Jeremy Tilse.
Replacements: 16 Daniel Lewinski, 17 Laurie Weeks, 18 Matt Whittleston, 19 Chris Houston, 20 James Price, 21 Danny Kroll, 22 Jackson Mullane.

Perth Spirit: 15 Cameron Shepherd, 14 Haig Sare, 13 Junior Pelesasa, 12 Lachlan MacKay, 11 Nic Cummins, 10 James Hilgendorf, 9 Matt Henjak (captain), 8 Scott Fava, 7 Richard Brown, 6 Luke Doherty, 5 Sitaleki Timani, 4 Tom Hockings, 3 Troy Takiari, 2 Tai McIsaac, 1 AJ Whalley.
Replacements: 16 Luke Holmes, 17 Kieran Longbottom, 18 Scott Fardy, 19 Will Brock, 20 James Stannard, 21 Scott Daruda, 22 Ryan Cross.

Referee: Daniel Cheever
Touch judges: Grant MacNeill, Andrew Lees
Television match official: Bradley Wahl
Assessor: Mick Tanzer
365 Digital

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