Inexperience Costs Young Illawarriors

illawarriors logoThe Illawarrior Colts have missed the opportunity to advance to the top tier of the 2018 NSW Country Colts tournament. In a lacklustre performance the young Illawarriors went down 31 – 5 to Far North Coast in this year’s Tier 2 Shield Final at Port Macquarie. After trailing by just seven points at half-time the inexperienced Illawarra side couldn’t go with the Northern side conceding three second half tries.

Despite some strong play from forwards Nicholas Cracknell, try scorer Opeti Taufahema and captain Bailey Lamb the side had trouble competing at the breakdown with any success to trouble the north coast boys. All the Far North Coast second half tries came from their slick backline who took full toll against some inefficient first up defence.

There were four Yellow Cards handed out during the second half which made it difficult for both sides to maintain composure. But it was the Dolphins who kept their minds on the task best to run away with the game.

Halfback Corey Aylett and fullback Alphonso Pyne put in sound performances throughout but in general the sides performance lacked the intensity and expertise required at this level. One positive to come from the match is the fact that a significant number of the Illawarra players will still be eligible for Colts football in 2018. This year’s tournament experience will help many of the younger players prepare for another shot of regaining Tier 1 status for the Illawarra in 2018.


Illawarriors Fall To Rampant Newcastle Hunter

illawarriors logoIn a one sided Caldwell Cup Final at Port Macquarie, Newcastle Hunter declared themselves the new Cup holders with a resounding 46 – 7 victory over a deflated Illawarriors side. In a totally dominant performance Newcastle Hunter ran in six tries to one to secure the title and end Illawarra’s dream of a three peat.

The northerners started the match with gusto scoring their first try after just three minutes play when winger Tim Marsh crossed for the first of his two first half tries. With the Newcastle Hunter forwards powering forward their inside backs continually cut through the Illawarriors defensive line. Player of the Tournament award winner Fly-half Dane Sherrat was outstanding creating many opportunities for his outside backs. Centres Adrian Delore and Sam Foggarty, along with fullback Jayson Strachan took full advantage of the space to punish the Illawarriors throughout the match. Sherret converted both first half tries and added a penalty goal for the Champions to go to a 17 – 0 lead after twenty minutes.

The Newcastle Hunter fast moving defensive line denied the Illawarriors any space to attack with only a sixty metre sweetly taken intercept try to Illawarrior centre Jacob Kara giving their supporters any hope. The usually reliable Tom Baker narrowly missed three penalty goal attempts during the half that would have narrowed the halftime lead for the side to build on in the second term.

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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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