Cerberus 38 Eltham 52
Being forced to relocate a home game for a second successive weekend did little to stop Eltham’s winning ways in taking on Cerberus at HMAS Cerberus. In a highly entertaining match, Eltham at one stage had raced out to 31-12 lead early in the second half before Cerberus, urged on by a boisterous local crowd, fought back to close the margin to 8 points. A flurry of tries to both sides late in the second half saw Eltham steady and come away with a 52-38 win. The game had started in spectacular fashion: with “travelling life members” Dave Evans and John Thompson just settling in (and before the medicinal hip flask could be opened), Rob Hausegger received the ball from the kick-off and broke open the Cerberus defence, running some 50 metres before passing to Gunther Venables for the first try of the match, Eliah James converting to give the visitors a 7-0 lead. Cerberus countered and following a couple of line breaks scored off a penalty tap kick to close the score to 7-5. In the play-of-the-match, Rob then raced through to catch the ball from the subsequent kick-off, stepping through stunned Cerberus defenders to score and extend Eltham’s lead to 12-5. Both sides committed to playing very open rugby, taking opportunities to move the ball across the backline. Eltham continued to vary their options – a scrum win saw Eliah put through a kick along the ground which Rob (again!) ran through to pick up and score, while a lineout win following a 50 metre break by Aisea (Wise) Naulago saw Alex Cara score from an Eltham rolling maul. A try to Cerberus had Eltham ahead 24-10 at half-time.
Eltham started the second half strongly, with Tim Stent denied a try on the kick-off after an early break by Serafi Sale, ruled to have stepped millimeters in touch by a gutsy linesman standing right in front of the Eltham bench….the correct call, for the record. Not to be denied, Rob broke through a would-be tackler to run 30 metres to score his third try on the back of an Eltham counterattack (31-12). While Jeremy Cory, Matthew Campbell and Joey Griffin showed us that forwards do in fact possess slick passing skills, it was the Cerberus backline that started to get on a roll, exposing some fragility in the Eltham defence. A couple of quick tries and the score was 34-26, with a steadying penalty goal contributed by Eliah. As we have seen in previous matches, it is times like this that the Eltham scrum rises to the occasion. A win against the feed, a second Eltham scrum and Gunther scoots down the blind-side to score and give Etham a 39-26 lead. In a hectic finish to the second half, both sides scored two tries, with Luc Gavillucci finishing off a break by Rob and Gunther to go over, as did Macaulay Cox, a returning former Eltham Junior playing his first game for the seniors. Another penalty by Eliah helped Eltham to a 52-38 victory, with Rob Hausegger a deserving man-of-the-match. Other memorable moments: Riley Strachan, playing in the centres for the first time, declaring, “Never again, coach, I am knackered”, and having the three Stent brothers play in our senior side for the first time. A credit to the Eltham side, turning up in good numbers for the away match and staying on to have a drink and a bite to eat with the host side at Club Cerberus. And thanks to Cerberus for their generosity in hosting us.