A resilient Rats pack outclassed their Manly rivals yesterday, compiling a comprehensive 40-14 victory to secure bragging rights in the Battle of the Beaches.
In front of a near capacity crowd at Pittwater Rugby Park, Warringah survived an early Marlins attacking onslaught before piling on the points themselves, scoring five unanswered tries to establish an unassailable lead.
It’s the fifth win of the season for the Rats, who remain in sixth position on the Charter Hall Shute Shield ladder, trailing third place Easts by just two-points.
Warringah will be hoping that the Queen’s Birthday long weekend allows ample time to prepare to face Norths away from home in Round Ten.
The Shoremen conceded their first blemish of the season yesterday, falling to Easts 31-29 thanks to an 83rd-minute penalty try at Woollahra Oval.
It shapes up to be a classic encounter between the two Clubs, with each looking to secure placings in what is quickly becoming a bunched group of Finals hopefuls.
Despite yesterdays result, it was the Marlins who begun stronger out of the blocks, thanks to some bruising defence and determined ball running.
It took the Marlins 18-minutes to crack the resilient Rats defensive line, but eventually a well-executed rolling maul allowed hooker James Hilterbrand to score his first for the afternoon.
Warringah’s response was emphatic, with the home side scoring the next five tries to sink what was a brave early performance from their Northern Beaches rivals.
Some determined ball running from Hugh Margin caused the first chink in the Marlins defensive armour, with fantastic support play from Rory O’Connor securing the Rats first try.
Soon after, it was a moment of individual brilliance from Rats scrumhalf Harry Anderson-Brown which saw the lead grow to 14-7.
From seemingly nothing, Anderson-Brown darted through some lethargic Marlins ruck defence, charging 50-meters down field to fool fullback Harley Attwater and crash over for the home sides second.
A Ben Marr try just before half time saw the Rats lead grow to 21-7 at the break.
Unfortunately for Marr, it would be his last involvement of the match, with the Warringah skipper suffering a serious shoulder dislocation in the act of scoring the try.
Despite the loss of their inspirational captain, the Rats continued their attacking onslaught early in the second.
Further tries to Hugh Margin and Charlie McKill extended the Warringah lead to 35-7 and sunk any hopes of a second half Marlins revival.
Warringah prop Rory O’Connor was phenomenal yesterday, with the agile forward seemingly involved in every attacking adventure the Rats composed.
O’Connor’s support play characterised Warringah’s team performance, with the prop ending with a try and a try assist in what was a dazzling display.
A stunning acrobatic finish from Ben Woollett on the stroke of full time capped off an impressive Warringah display at home, with the Rats securing the Bayfield Cup 40-14.
Marlins Head Coach, Matt McGoldrick, will no doubt make defence a strong focus over the two-week break, with most of the Rats attacking opportunities the consequence of the Marlins missed tackles.
With an all-important clash against the Wildfires in Round Ten, Manly fans will be hoping for a sustained defensive performance, after the Newcastle side easily accounted for the Two Blues yesterday.
In other results around the grounds, Eastwood claimed Grand Final redemption with a 20-12 win over Gordon, Sydney Uni secured another bonus-point with a 57-17 win over Randwick, Souths smashed Penrith 80-3, the Wildfires were too strong for the Two Blues 43-11 and Easts shocked the undefeated Norths 31-29.
Tries: O’Connor, Anderson-Brown, Marr, Margin, McKill, Woollett
Cons: Davis 3, Marr 2
Tries: Hilterbrand 2
Cons: Hartmann 2
Round Nine Results
Gordon 12 v 20 Eastwood
Randwick 17 v 57 Sydney Uni
Warringah 40 v 14 Manly
Souths 80 v 3 Penrith
Wildfires 43 v 11 Two Blues
Easts 31 v 29 Norths
Bye: West Harbour