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Redemption for Illawarriors in Mudgee

illawarriors logoThe Illawarriors Rugby squad cast aside the disappointment of their semi-final loss to eventual Caldwell Cup winners Central West with a resounding 43 – 8 win over the Central North in their third place play-off match at Mudgee on Sunday. The importance of this match was not lost on the players as they were very aware a loss would mean Illawarra would lose their place in the Caldwell Cup competition. The players rose to the challenge and didn’t let the large contingent of Illawarra Rugby supporters present down. Their 6 tries to 1effort left many at the ground wondering just what might have been, had the boys been able to show this form on Saturday.

From the kick off it was obvious that the boys had turned up to play as they ran in 3 first half tries to go to the break with a 22 – 3 lead. Lead strongly by skipper Gavin Holder and flanker Paul Tuala the team showed the form we all knew they were capable of as they went about their work. Fullback Don Nepia opened the scoring with a penalty goal after 5 minutes. The games first try was scored by center Lee Russell 6 minutes later. With the Nepia conversion Illawarra were out to 10 – 0. Central North got onto the board with a penalty goal to Brendan Hunt. With a little over 5 minutes to half-time Matt Lee finished a sharp backline play with Andre Itula and Nepia prominent to score in the left corner. Skipper Holder took advantage of a strong Andrew Barrett run to score under the posts and with the Nepia conversion it was half-time.

Two minutes into the second half Kookaburras winger James Perrett finished off a standard backline play to score out wide. After a strong forward drive Holder forced his way over to score his second. With Nepia off, replacement Scott Tarrasenko converted for Illawarra to go to 29 – 8. At the 58 minute mark Central North lost forward Alister Doyle to the sin bin and Illawarra took full advantage almost immediately. Andrew Barrett burst over from close range and with Tarrasenko’s conversion it was 36 – 8. In the last minute of play, lock Tim Windle scored a much deserved try, converted by Tarresenko for the final score.

Half Josh Holman got over his corked knee from Saturday and had a blinder, with Mitch Hardy and Simon Watts strong performers. Eli Sinoti was again a constant worry for the Kookaburra defense.

The win secures Illawarra’s place in the top tier of the NSW Country Rugby Championships for 2015 as we can now all look forward to another crack at winning the famous Caldwell Cup Trophy next year.

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