Long time no speak!!!
For those of you who do not know me I am the One Eyed Woodie and for about 5 years I wrote the weekly match report for 1st and 2nd Grade games. In 2001, after the Grand Final (which from memory Eastwood were represented in all 6 grades, winning 3) I hung up the pencil and paper and as it turned out it was a good thing. In 2002, we had our first child and things changed for us forever. Ethan spent 3 months in intensive care fighting to survive after open heart surgery at just 12 days of age. To the credit of the staff at Westmead Ethan is with us today and he loves his Rugby and he loves his Woods.
So how does this link into Saturday’s match against Manly. Well, glad you asked. In response to the support we received I formed a charity called The Candlelight Gift which supports families with children in hospital. Anyway, we were privileged enough on Saturday to hold a charity day selling raffles tickets and holding the inaugural Candlelight Stretcher Race. It was a great day and a big thank you to all who were there and contributed to our cause as we raised $1,200 to help continue our work in supporting families with kids in hospital.
But it wasn’t all fundraising and face painting. There was also a cracker game of rugby between 2 teams that wanted to show off their skills. Things were looking pretty ordinary for the mighty Eastwood Club as 2nd’s to 4th’s had all lost and 1st’s had slipped to a 20-7 deficit at half time. And while things looked desperate the boys were always only one try away from making the game get very exciting.
Eastwood scored first after half time but those pesky blighters from the beaches wouldn’t lie down and bounced back with one of their own. My fairytale was looking a bit nightmarish and I wasn’t happy. For 20 minutes the Woods searched for the elusive try that would bring them back to within 6 and it came after a scrum was set on Manly’s 25, centre field. McDougall in the centres hit the line beautifully and a few rucks later Cohen Masson finished it off right in from of the Candlelight Gift tent and eager supporters. 27-21 – game on.
But would Manly come back as they had done so all game. Well I think not. Guided around the field by the Little General Ayoub the Woods seemed to be finishing the stronger. What started as frantic but solid defence in their own half finished as one of the better tries you will see this year. The ball went through at least 65 sets of hands and I think that the ref even had a touch at one stage such was the excitement of the Woodies play out of their own quarter (I may be mistaken about the ref’s touch as I didn’t have the best seat in the house at that stage). But then Jai Ayoub thought that we had had enough throwing the ball around so he laid it off to a rampaging George Kent who, when met by the last line of Manly defence, decided to dig a hole and bury him before offloading. After a few rucks Ayoub jinked, stepped, dummied, did the watootsie and finally went in to score. And if that wasn’t enough, he calmly went back and slotted the goal to take the lead for the first time since early in the first half.
That left 5 minutes of excruciatingly painful watching of rugby. A very tired Manly threw themselves at Eastwood for one last time. But credit to the might of the blue and white, the boys held back every charge and were even rewarded with a final try on the bell to take the game. And yes, it was that Little General Jai who produced a miracle. This time I was in a very good position to see Jai Ayoub swamped by 2 defenders 5 metres out. There was no way that he was going to be able to pass the ball so instead he swallowed it and then popped the pass out his backside to a rampaging Sutton who reached out to score at the base of the posts. Well at least that is the only way possible I could see Ayoub making that last pass such was the defence around him. But it definitely capped off an amazing game. I did bump into the Eastwood full back after the game and he said, “Yes, it was jolly hard out there and we made it very very tough on ourselves and we nearly very much blew it”. That was the gist of what he said at least, the true quote would have been so censored that you wouldn’t have made head nor tails of what he said. Needless to say he was very relieved that they took the points in the end.
Anyway, that was my take on the game – well, at least the second half. It was what has made Eastwood such a great club, that chuck it about, never say die, you haven’t beaten us until the final siren kind of team. And it was a pleasure to have the opportunity to bring our charity to Millner and receive the warmth and gratitude of you wonderful supporters.
I was asked for 2 paragraphs about the game but instead I got the taste for it back and produced an essay. I’m warming to this again and who knows I might dust off the pencil and paper one more time this year to bring you a totally unbiased view of another mighty Eastwood battle. Until then, I’ll see up the back of the Grandstand.