Illawarriors Surge To Country Title

2018 6a Caldwell Cup SquadThe Illawarriors are bringing home their third Caldwell Cup title in four years after an emphatic 37 – 15 NSW Country Championship Final victory over Central West in Warren. Despite plenty of pundits declaring Central West favorites for the title it was the Illawarriors who dominated the match with an outstanding defensive effort to blot the Blue Bulls out of the match.

Running in three tries in each half the Illawarriors were a step ahead of their opponents for most of the match after an enthralling first twenty minutes. Both sides started strongly asking many questions of each-others defense as play pulsated back and forth.

Illawarra Fly-half Tom Baker opened the scoring with a penalty goal after eight minutes as both defenses held strong despite some enterprising play from both teams. Six minutes later after the Bulls had pressured the Illawarra line for an extended period it was wingman Tom Green who finally managed to split the Illawarra defense to score on the left for a 5 – 3 lead.      

The Bulls only lead of the match was short lived as Illawarra quickly responded when Bowral flyer Henry Yuill crossed in the left corner for the first of his hat-trick of tries. With the Illawarra forwards now getting the upper hand in tight two more tries came before the break.

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Illawarriors To Meet Central West In Cup Final

illawarriors logoA resounding 55 - 22 victory over Mid North Coast, has earned the Illawarriors a place in this year’s Caldwell Cup Final in Warren. In a surprise result after an absorbing second Semi-Final, Central West has won through to the Championship decider after a narrow 36 – 34 win over the highly fancied Newcastle/Hunter side. Both matches were high quality fast paced matches and we can expect another quality affair in the final

The Illawarriors had an indifferent start to their match with both sides crossing for two tries for a 17 all score-line after thirty minutes of evenly matched Rugby. In an eventful final ten minutes of the first half the Illawrriors ran in two quick tries before losing Half-Back Tim Small to the bin for a high tackle. The Axemen scored as half-time sounded to narrow the Illawarra lead to 31 – 22 at the break.

Two minutes after oranges Illawarra winger Aisake Tuevu was also sent to the bin for knocking the ball down which left the Illawarriors with thirteen on the field for the next six minutes. This proved to be the turning point of the match. Needing to lift their effort when short-handed the South Coast boys responded shutting down their opponents with an exceptional defensive effort.

Once back to full strength the Illawarriors ran in four unanswered tries as the Illawarra bench proved to be the decisive factor. The Axemen had no answer to the Illawarra running game as the winners backline took full advantage of the platform laid by their energetic forward pack led by Wayne Ngatai, Jack Hobbs, Leighton Cowley and the evergreen Paul Tuala.

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The Rogues Rant

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

Off to Warren this week for the NSW Country Championships. It’s a long way there for everyone and the weekend should prove to be an interesting one indeed. Reigning Champions Newcastle/Hunter will probably start favorites again for the Caldwell Cup but there will be plenty of people making the trip hoping to see the coveted silverware go somewhere other than the Hunter Valley. The Novocastrians have dominated the Cup over the last ten years winning seven titles with only our two wins in 2015 & 2016 and a win to Central West in there somewhere. We play Mid North Coast in the Semi on Saturday and our boys will need to be ready for a big effort against the unpredictable North Coasters. The Colts open the Tournament at 9.20AM Saturday against Newcastle Hunter. Keep an eye on the IDRU Facebook page and the website for results as they happen.

The fact that there are only four Zones represented in the Colts Championships this weekend is of huge concern for Country Rugby. The Big four Zones, Newcastle/Hunter, Central Coast, Central West and Illawarra have entered but what has happened to the other zones? We are having our problems keeping young blokes in our game in the Illawarra but to see zones like Far North Coast, Central North and New England not entering is disturbing indeed. Just where is Country Rugby heading if these Zones can’t field teams for this once very popular Tournament.

Congratulations to the Lady Waratahs for their win in the inaugural Super W Tournament. The Women’s game continues to grow and draw plenty of attention to Australian Rugby. The Wallaroos, the Women’s Sevens and now the Super W are all attracting plenty of interest to Rugby and are starting to show the men’s game up at the moment. There are seven Zones participating in the Women’ Sevens at Country Week this weekend, but unfortunately Illawarra don’t have a team there. There are moves afoot to get a Women’s Comp happening in the Illawarra but the numbers are not quite there at the moment.

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Injuries Impact On Illawarriors

2018 4 Illawarriors 2018 ImageThe 2018 Illawarriors Head Coach Richard Thompson has finalized his squad for the NSW Country Championships in Warren this weekend. With injuries costing the side some big name players, Richard has still been able to announce a strong squad to challenge for the prestigious Caldwell Cup.

The squad of 25 will be joined by the Illawarrior Colts squad for the big trip way out west. Eight district clubs are represented in the squad with University holding eight spots. With players like Country rep players Jesse Roach, Andy Papworth and Aaron Louden along with Andre Itula, JP Nel and Todd Pearce not being considered for the squad due to injury, the Illawarriors still carry plenty of experience into the tournament. With half a dozen Cockatoo Rep players in the squad led by No.8 Paul Tuala, we can expect the Illawarriors to make their presence felt over the two day Carnival.

The Illawarriors play their Caldwell Cup Semi-Final against an unpredictable Mid North Coast side at 1:30 on Saturday with a place in Sunday’s Caldwell Cup Final up for grabs. The other Semi will be between last year’s champs Newcastle Hunter and Central West.

In a disappointing development there will only be four Zones competing in the Colts Championship this year. That really must be of concern for Country officials. The Illawarrior Colts are drawn to play the strong Newcastle/Hunter team first up on Saturday at 9:20AM. The other two sides playing for a spot in the Colts Cup Final will be Central Coast and Central West.

The Illawarrior Colts Squad is :     Will Smith(University), Jeromy Cairns(Avondale), Sam Laurie(University),               Nicholas Cracknell(Shamrocks), William Laws(Campbelltown, Alex Srbinovski(University), Opeti Taufahema(University), Angus Males(Kiama), Jett Hatton(University), Te Atawhai Mason(University), Reece Apolo(University),                              Jack O’Neill(University), Eric Siutu Leilua(Avondale), Morgan Allan(Wollondilly), Mani Tuigamala(Avondale),               Benjamin Muirhead(University), Harry Devine(Shamrocks), Tavite Amone(Avondale), Jackson Rice(University),                 Alex Swan(Kiama), Ben Holland(Kiama), Tai Matenga(Kiama), Chris Hawksworth(Tech Waratahs),                                      Simon Bayley(University), Atutahi Reti(Campbelltown).          

University Overpower Vikings

MatchReportThe University Bulls have confirmed their strong early season form with a 50 points to 13 win over a depleted previously unbeaten Vikings side at University Oval. Going to the half-time break holding a narrow 19 – 13 lead the Bulls ran in four unanswered second half tries to take maximum points in the IDRU Builders Club Premiership Round 3 match.

Vikings missing five first graders stayed with the Students for the first half but couldn’t match the Bulls effort in the second stanza. Prop Forward Hemana Wickliffe scored Uni’s first five pointer after four minutes as the Uni forwards clicked straight into their power game dominating the early exchanges camped in Vikings half of the field.

Not to be outdone the Vikings forwards responded in kind taking play deep into Uni territory. Half-back Tom Sawden potted two penalty goals to bring the Blueys back to within a point of the home side.

With the Uni side clearly superior at the set piece scrum they continued to put pressure on an eager Vikings defensive line until big No.8 Amos Leef crossed for his sides’ second try. With the try converted by Don Nepia the students extended their lead to 14 – 6 after twenty minutes.

Shortly after the Blueys responded when their experienced center Andrew Barrett burst clear in a powerful run from deep in his own half. His center partner Adam Robb continued the play to within twenty of the Bulls line. In the next phase of play speedy Fullback Jason Reid cut through the Uni defense to cross and score under the posts. Sawden’s conversion brought the Blueys right back into the match at 14 – 13 to the students. It was an expensive try as Barrett left the field injured and took no further part in the match.

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The Rogues Rant

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

Apologies first up this week from the Rogue. Due to some technical faults the Website went down for about 36 hours over the weekend which made it a bit difficult for everyone to keep up with all the latest from the weekends action. Everything’s back in place now and I can pass on some exciting news as well. In a couple of weeks’ time we will be launching a bold, brand new IDRU Website. It promises to be bigger, brighter and better as Illawarra Rugby moves forward into a new era. Don’t forget you can also catch up with the latest results and match details through the IDRU Facebook page.

What a pleasure it has been to watch the Aussie Women’s Sevens squad over the last few years. After a classic Commonwealth Games Final, it was so disappointing to see the girls go down 17 - 12 in extra time to the Kiwis. The girls were shattered but can hold their heads high as they have certainly done Australian Rugby proud once again. The men had a disappointing tournament but managed to salvage some pride with a strong 26 – 0 win over Scotland to take fifth spot. The Kiwis took the gold in both finals, winning the men’s final 14 – 0 over Fiji.

Speaking of the Women’s game, the final of the inaugural Super W Tournament is on this Friday at Allianz Stadium from 4.45PM. The NSW Girls are up against the Queenslanders in the final. NSW are unbeaten while the northerners have lost once during the tournament, and that was against NSW way back in Round 1. The Lady Waratahs will start favorites but Coach Rob Baumann and his assistant Sean Barrett will be working hard to keep any complacency out of the squad for Friday. Sydney based teams have dominated the National Women’s Tournament in previous years but the girls will need to have their minds on the job on Friday if they are get over the top of the Michael Hayes coached Queenslanders. The match is a curtain raiser to the Waratahs V Lions Super Rugby match and can be seen live on Fox.

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