The much anticipated Grand Final rematch between Coota and Harden saw both sides welcomed to a Country Club Oval, saturated with moisture on Saturday.

    It was so wet that at one stage a Harden player found himself at the bottom of the ruck and a Coota player yelled out ‘drown him’.

    Harden were undefeated going into the match while Coota were two from four after suffering a shortage of troops in the previous two games. Coota ran out winners 13-3 in a spectacle of a game which they purport to play in Heaven, but which looked like it was being played in a swamp.

A large turnover in players in the Harden roster meant that Coota would have to expect the unexpected, however, the thick mud, some showers and more mud turned the match into a slug fest and provided a great spectacle for the crowd. A dry track could see results reversed, we won’t know until the finals.

Harden received the ball and it was clear early that both sides were going to kick for field position. Big bad bustling Matt Berkrey continues to be an accomplished agitator and a thorn in Harden’s side. The Inside Centre proved hard to handle in the early stages.

Coota’s line out was in very good form led by veteran Cam Stanley who was leaping into the air in a nonchalant fashion to win the ball.

   Both sides threw the ball around and it took them most of the first half to realise that this wasn’t going to be the way to win the game.

The pill was covered in greasy mud with both sides guilty of being unable to hold on to it.

   This meant scrums and plenty of them. It was becoming increasingly difficult to find a dry enough spot for them to be set.

Harden posted first points via a penalty and the tone was set for a close affair. Harden 3-0.

Soon after Harden Winger Lane Gaudie made a great break down the sideline which put Coota under pressure, however, the home side sucked it up and won possession back before they kicked themselves out of trouble. Coota Coach Mitch Wakeford was animated at times and called on his players to stick to the game plan.

The Tri Colours kicked into gear and started using their big pack to great use. They managed to hold onto possession in the torrid conditions before they were rewarded with a penalty shot. Kicking isn’t easy at any time, but in this mud it was near impossible. It didn’t worry Berkrey who stepped up to make it 3-3 just before half time.

 

Coota came out with intent to keep ball in hand and truck it up the field in the second half. Big Second Rower Moe Clune was running hard off the fringes and after sustained pressure Mitch Coleman-Hardy went in for a nice try with bodies and mud covering the big fella.

Berkrey stepped up again to kick a fine conversion to give Coota the lead, 10-3.

The Devils kicked off and soon after were penalised by the referee. Berkrey lined up a long range shot of over 40 metres and had the distance, before the ball faded to the left.

Harden President and Outside Centre Ben Lenehan had the restart and kicked  it just over the 22 to regather possession.

Not long after, Gus Shea stirred the crowd and his team mates with a charging 20 metre run. Harden looked to be getting themselves back in the game.

10 minutes into the second half it became a slugfest and the crowd happily watched on.

Coota continued to keep ball in hand and took control of the game running off the fringes and being backed up by their big forwards. Harden did their best to slow their progression as Coota’s Corey Nicholson and Angus Forster kept the ball rolling up the field.

   Coota trucked it down to within 10 metres of the Harden line only for Harden to steal possession.

The Devils were still in the match and the Harden supporters could smell a whiff of a comeback in the air.

The decision was made to abandon scrums as the field became unsuitable which was welcomed by the players who were at this stage tiring.

Ben Lenehan made a break for Harden and handed off to Tom Lenehan who in turn put Jack O’Connor away. The last past went astray and the ball was turned over.

Both sides decided they would engage in hugs and kisses at this stage with some minor scuffles breaking out.

Coota regained possession and Berkrey lined up a penalty shot to make it 13-3.

The game was slipping from the Devil’s grasp and Harden needed to score twice to win.

 

Photo 1 of 3. Gus Shea sliding towards the try line for Harden late in the game.

Photo 2 of 3. Gus Shea over the line with the ball now out of shot and the ball either under him or Coota Prop Mitch Coleman-Hardy.

Photo 3 of 3. The ball now in Coota’s possession.

Gus Shea charged on to a ball close to the line and managed to get over, only to have the try disallowed after a conference was held between both touch judges and the referee.

 Not long after the whistle blew, Coota had won 13-3.

A great game of Rugby played by two skilful sides in terrible conditions.

Coota benefited in the first half of the game with a number of penalties which bamboozled the crowd. In the second half and towards the end of the game Coota had no luck with the Ref and Harden appeared to be on the receiving end of some assistance. It was a confusing match to watch but that confusion was overshadowed by the spectacle of the players covered in mud and trying their hearts out.

Harden were sitting atop the ladder but have now slipped to second place while Coota have now moved up to third place.

Boorowa are in pole position after they trounced West Wyalong 36-12.

In other results the Young Yabbies ran out winners 48-3 against Grenfell while Condo snuck home in a high scoring affair 40-32 against Temora.

Two matches remain in the competition and it has become clear that the sides in with a chance of premiership glory include, Coota, Harden, Young and Boorowa. This week sees Harden head to Shannon Noll territory. The match of the round will be Boorowa against the Tri Colours at Boorowa.