Wombats Five From Five

MatchReportThe Avondale Wombats have continued on with their perfect start to the season with a comprehensive 41 – 8 victory over Bowral at Eridge Park. The Blacks matched it with a disrupted Wombats side for the first forty minutes to be within six of the lead at the break. With five unanswered tries to Avondale after the break the Wombats have laid down the gauntlet to all the other sides in the comp declaring them-selves the team to beat.

With Avondale coach Murray McDonald relegating two key first graders to seconds this week after they missed training, the Wombats started the match with several players in unaccustomed positions. Bowral took full advantage and had the better of the first twenty minutes of the match.

New Fly-half Donovan Du Randt opened the scoring with a try after fourteen minutes of absorbing football from both sides. Bowral worked a complex backline play deep in the Wombat half, which broke down but Du Randt cleaned up a loose pass to zip away from the Avondale defence and score with an angled run to the right corner, for a 5 – 0 lead.

Avondale took the lead after a try by winger William Taiti-Taanoa which came from scrappy play on the halfway line. The wingman swooped onto a loose ball and scooted away. Forced to kick ahead when left without support he won the race to the ball regathering just short of the line to score. As the Avondale forwards were starting to show more go forward, with lock Tom Taiti-Taanoa showing the way, their second five pointer went to centre Nua Alone. Alone scored after regaining a pin-point Andre Itula kick from twenty out. Fullback Jacob Kara converted both tries for Wombats to lead 14 – 5 after thirty five minutes.

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The Rogues Rant

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

RoguesRantThe Rogue had a great trip on the weekend to the beautiful north coast city of Port Macquarie. The weather was perfect for football and probably the biggest crowd for quite some time turned out for the tournament dominated by a very good Newcastle Hunter side. The Illawarriors got off to a shaky start in Saturdays semi against Central North but clicked in the second half for a resounding 55 – 17 win and a spot in the final. Right from the kick off in the final the Newcastle side powered up and managed to maintain their intensity throughout the final never allowing the Illawarriors into the match thoroughly deserving to take home the Caldwell Cup once again. To Shaun McCreedy and all his coaching and support staff, and all the players who represented our zone with great integrity, well done, you did the Illawarra proud. Word is that the tournament will be going way out west next year to the Western Plains Zone.

I shared the long drive north with several other old rugby tragics which resulted in some hilarious conversations with many very funny rugby anecdotes being related. I’ll share one with you which tells the story of a then recently retired Illawarra rep player who took on the role of Manager of the Illawarra Rep side way back in the early 70’s. The squad arrived in the host city and our enthusiastic new Squad leader set off shopping for supplies. In those days there were no traveling Physiotherapists and it fell to the Manager to supply the medical support and game day refreshments etc. The medical supplies amounted pretty much to the old magic Sponge and Water Buckets with Oranges providing the refreshment. At half time of the first match our opponents were astonished to see the Illawarra players were frothing at the mouth. Our novice Manager had purchased self-soaping sponges much to the disgust and bewilderment of his young charges. What happens on tour stays on tour so no name to this story but I’ll give a cryptic clue! Think of a long legged, feathered Nordic Warrior.

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Illawarriors Fare Well In Cockatoo Selections

NSW Country LogoDespite a disappointing end to the NSW Country Championships last weekend in Port Macquarie, nine Illawarrior players have won selection in the Country Cockatoos and Colts Training Squads. Caldwell Cup Finalists Illawarra and Newcastle Hunter have provided a total of fourteen players to the senior squad with seven coming from each of the recently dominant country zones.

Wollongong University star Paul Tuala is one of four players to make the squad from the Illawarra Premiers. Hooker Wayne Ngatai, Prop Andy Papworth and Lock Andrew Rae join their captain. Also included is Kiama Flanker Leighton Cowley, Shamrocks front rower Jesse Roche and Bowral Blacks speedster Henry Yuill.

The Cockatoos will be preparing for a short but solid program beginning with a match against NSW Suburban at Camden Rugby Park on Sunday June 4th. Following will be a match with the Brumbies Provincial side in Canberra on Saturday 17th June. The last match for the Cockatoos will be the big clash with Queensland Country in Newcastle on the 1st July.

The Country Cockatoos Colts squad has also been announced with the Illawarra represented by Shamrock Halfback Cory Aylett and Camden front rower Kieran McCourt. The Colts will also be playing at Camden on June 4th against the Junior Waratahs and NSW U/19’s. They’ll also play on the same program as the seniors against Queensland Country in Newcastle on the 1st July.

Congratulations to all our Illawarriors on making the squads, we look forward to seeing you all go around in the famous Gold Country jersey.


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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