Illawarriors Third Straight Caldwell Cup Decider

illawarriors logoThe Illawarriors have qualified for their third straight Caldwell Cup decider by registering a 55 – 17 win in Saturday’s semi-final against Central North at Port Macquarie. After a frustrating first half which saw Central North go to the break with a 17 – 12 lead, the Illawarriors hit their straps in the second term, running in six second half tries to qualify for Sundays final against arch rivals Newcastle Hunter. Newcastle Hunter had a resounding 58 – 8 win over Central West in the first semi to set up Sundays final between the arch rivals for the third year in a row.

Bowral winger Henry Yuill crossed for two tries in the first twenty minutes of the match for the Illawarriors to go to a 12 – 0 lead. With the Central North forward pack getting the better of the play in tight the tries came from good work out wide by fullback Rhys Peters and a great kick and chase try by Yuill.

The Kookaburras came charging back into the match on the back of strong work by their forwards as the Illawarra defensive pattern fell apart. Central North centre Pat Keen and Lock Sione Kamoto scored tries and with two goals and a penalty goal to centre Simon Newton, the Kookaburras were in control of the match at the break 17 – 12.

The Illawarriors lost halfback Tim Small at half time with an ankle injury which saw Tom Sawden injected into the match. With some adjustments made to their forward structure the Illawarriors came out for the second term a different side. With their forwards led by prop Andy Papworth and skipper Paul Tuala now dominating proceedings, Sawden took full advantage of the space created to ignite the Illawarra attack. Six tries later the Illawarriors had qualified for their third straight Caldwell Cup final.

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The Rogues Rant

RoguesRantWelcome to The Rogues Rant, an occasional look at all things Rugby.

The rising career of former Vikings junior Reece Hewat goes on. Reece was recently appointed Captain of the Australian Under 20 side to compete in this week’s Oceania U20 Championships. The big No.8 who led the Queenslanders to the inaugural Super 20’s Championship, will be first on the field on Friday night when the Aussies take on Samoa in game one of the tournament. Australia will play Fiji on Tuesday and the final match against arch Rivals and tournament favorites New Zealand will be played on Saturday week.

It’s Country Week this week with our Illawarriors traveling to Port Macquarie for a crack at going back to back to back Caldwell Cup winners. Illawarra has never won the title three times running but coach Shaun McCreedy thinks he has the squad to give the three peat a real shake. I have to agree as I reckon Shaun has picked a squad full of in form players who will cherish the opportunity to represent the Illawarra. The squad is a mixture of experience led by skipper Paul Tuala and several exciting young new comers. I’ll be there to report on all the action. Keep an eye on the IDRU Facebook page and the Website for updates and full match reports.

Spare a thought for Michael Cheika. The Wallabies have three test matches this year in June against Fiji, Scotland and Italy, before the Rugby Championships start in August. Last season was a huge disappointment for Wallaby fans after such a great effort from the team in the World Cup. Given the form of the Aussie Super Rugby sides, Cheika has the job ahead of him to lift the Wallabies spirits for this year’s program. Good luck to him.

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In Form Country Championships Squad

illawarriors logoIllawarriors Caldwell Cup winning Coach Shaun McCreedy has selected a strong in form Squad for this weekend’s NSW Country Tournament in Port Macquarie. The squad is full of Championship experienced players with a sprinkling of new faces yet to experience this most prestigious tournament. The players selected are in sound form so far this year despite the interruptions to their preparation due to the recent bad weather.

The 25 strong Squad to be led by veteran captain Paul Tuala, contains eleven Wollongong University players, five from Bowral, three each form Vikings and Shamrocks, and one each from Avondale, Camden and Kiama.

From the football we’ve seen so far this year the squad is packed with players very much in form and ready to go. Whilst it would have been much better to have had more game time the squad has spent a lot of time together on the training field and are well set to produce an appropriate performance in search of the allusive three peats of Caldwell Cup titles. A Semi-Final win on Saturday over Central North will give the Illawarriors an opportunity to compete for a third consecutive Caldwell Cup in the Final on Sunday against either fellow Semi-Finalists Newcastle-Hunter or Central West.

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Avondale Entertaining Winners Over Premiers

MatchReportIn an entertaining energetic Round 4 IDRU Builders Club Premiership match at University Oval, Avondale has claimed a clear competition lead with a 33 – 19 victory over the University Bulls. After a first half defensive effort described by rookie coach Murray MacDonald as “Awesome”, Avondale held a narrow 7 – 0 lead at the break. In contrast to a torrid first half, the second term produced seven tries with the Wombats outscoring the students four tries to three.

Avondale opened the scoring with a try to wingman Blake Spencer after ten minutes play in which both sides showed their intention to throw the ball around. Spencer scored in the left corner after the ball was spread across the Wombat backline from a scrum wide on the Uni 22 metre line. Fly Half Silipa Tuigamala converted the try for the only points of the first half.

Despite the lack of points the crowd was entertained with some open football from both sides as attack was the order of the day. Avondale struggled at times to clear their own line but produced an outstanding defensive effort to deny the Bulls any points. With both Wombat fullback Jacob Kara and Tuigamala having trouble finding touch from their clearing kicks, Uni confirmed their rating as the counter attack specialists of the competition, mounting wave after wave at the Wombat line. The Wombat defensive effort during this period proved to be the ultimate difference between the two sides at the end of the day.

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The Rogues Rant

RoguesRantWelcome to The Rogues Rant, an occasional look at all things Rugby.

Australia’s Rugby Crisis is not only at Super Rugby level. The word around town is that a couple of the traditional Illawarra clubs are struggling in terms of player numbers. The problem is such that we may even see some impact on this week’s round of matches. It’s a problem that has been developing over several past seasons. Now despite some whole hearted effort from several Rugby diehards to solve the problems at club level, I fear that the issue is about to bite and bite hard!

Country week is just one week away with the NSW Country Championships on next week in Port Macquarie. It has been a less than ideal preparation for the tournament for both our Illawarrior Senior and Colts squads. With the wet weather over the start of the year, trial matches were restricted to just the first outing against Queanbeyan weeks ago. It’s been hardly an ideal program for such a prestigious tournament. None the less all roads lead to Port for what is usually an entertaining weekend for Rugby tragics like the Rogue. I’ll be there again this year to bring you all the details as they happen. So keep an eye on the website for the latest over the weekend including full match reports. In something that seems to happen far too often the program for Saturday has our teams both playing at the same time which will make it a bit hard to support both our sides on the day. The Colts first match is against Mid North Coast at 1.00PM with the seniors opposed to Central North at 1.10PM. Good luck to Shaun McCreedy and all the boys in their quest for the elusive three peat.

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The Rogues Rant

RoguesRantWelcome to The Rogues Rant, an occasional look at all things Rugby.

There’s an old adage in sport that many successful coaches will swear by. “KEEP IT SIMPLE”. It’s a philosophy that the powers that be might like to put into action as they continue to struggle to find the answers to the woes of Super Rugby. The beauty of Super Rugby in the early days up until when it became a 12 team comp was just that. It was a short intense tournament in which each team played each other once with a four team final series to decide the champion before the international season started. Each team had to be ready to go from the start and consistent throughout to be any chance of winning the title. Since the increase in numbers and the introduction of the convoluted draw the tournament has become expensive for the franchises, cumbersome for the players and tiresome for the fans, as the whole exercise has been reduced to the uneven mess it is today. Let’s just forget about Japan and Argentina thus reducing the travel dramas and associated expenses and get back to just Aussie, New Zealand and South African franchises with everyone playing each other once. Get the football right on the field and everything else will look after itself.

The poor weather has caused havoc with the local Builders Club Premiership so far this year. With all the washouts the current points table doesn’t give much of an indication as to the strength of the teams involved. Campbelltown has only played one game in the first three rounds, with Avondale, Camden and Kiama the only sides to have played all three. All clubs need to get serious about getting some of these washed out matches out of the way sooner rather than later or we could end up with a backlog of matches that will prove impossible to clear by years end bringing the integrity of the comp into question.

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