A cold and windy Melbourne afternoon saw the fourth and fifth sides meet at Griff Hunt reserve. Wyndham came looking to consolidate their position in the top four, while Maroondah looked to build on some really positive signs from the last few matches and begin their challenge for the top four and a spot in finals.
The game began well for Wyndham. Early scores handed them the advantage. Maroondah struggled under pressure in the early periods as they were unable to get the ball in their hands. Once the Griffins were able to get the pill in hand they demonstrated the structure that has allowed them to play their best rugby this season. Set pieces were less consistent than they have been in past weeks, with the scrum being put under pressure at times. Despite this, Wyndham were unable to take advantage and earn possession off Maroondah feeds. However, on Wyndham feeds Maroondah’s scrum was dynamic taking at least three tightheads. The up and down scrum contest was indicative of the wider game.
With the ball in hand, Maroondah were threatening with big runs from Tommy and Junior T among others, allowing Maroondah to get on the front foot. The backs were at times able to capitalise while at times others looked unsettled in attack. Given that the team welcomed a brand new centre (Mike) during the week and others are still getting used to playing together after Maroondah’s run of injuries, the signs were positive moving forward. A new look back 3 with Effendi and Matt on the wings with first year Stuart holding down full back worked well together. They provided solid efforts in defence and counter attack and in offense when opportunities presented themselves.
Wyndham for their part used big strong runners to challenge the Maroondah defensive line and were able to get away just a bit too often. They were not as strong out wide as they might have liked but in the end it didn’t make much of a difference as their forwards and inside backs were able to carry the day. Their big boys could be seen to be tiring before half time and towards the end of the match and they did a good job to hold out a resurgent Maroondah.
Watching the game it was encouraging to see Maroondah playing some really positive rugby and looking every bit the equal of Wyndham, if not the better team. This made it equally frustrating in the final minutes of the match as Maroondah struggled to convert their efforts in to points. Wyndham may have won the day, but it was clear that bar some unfortunate errors the four points could have just as easily belonged to Maroondah. The club should be really excited to see what this young team can produce in the second half of the season.
Final score: Maroondah 19 – Wyndham 29