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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Blueys Hold Out Fast Finishing Blacks

MatchReportVikings have registered their first win of the season with a hard fought 25 – 17 win over a fast finishing Bowral at a windswept Vikings Field. The Round Three IDRU Builders Club Premiership match was a physically demanding match on both sides, with Vikings going out to a four tries to one lead before surviving a late rally from a committed Bowral side. Bowral put on two late tries finishing the match full of running as the Blueys hung on for the eight point win to open their seasons account.

A blustering North Easterly wind made for difficult conditions as both sides had trouble dealing with the wind throughout the match. Vikings had first use of the breeze and used it well to contain the Blacks in their own half for most of the first 15 minutes of the match. Captain Joel Diggins, once again leading from the front scored the first try of the match after working a run around play with Half-back Tom Sawden for a 5 – 0 lead after 14 minutes.

Bowral finally forced their way up field and on the first real foray into the Vikings quarter crossed for the equaliser after 18 minutes. A clever play featuring an interchange of passes by their three quarter line, winger Thomas Mooney crossed for the try. Fly-Half Lachlin Huntington and centre Jordan Grey combined brilliantly to create the try from wide on the right side. Huntington couldn’t convert the try as the scores were locked at 5 – 5.

Sawden was heavily involved again when he combined with powerful centre Michael Ashby to set up the next score for Flanker Thomas Claridge. Sawden couldn’t convert the try from out wide but added a penalty goal four minutes later for the Blueys to go to the break 13 – 5 in front.

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The Rogues Rant

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

Last week I asked the question is Australian Rugby in crisis. After another disastrous week in Super Rugby for the Aussie sides the answer to the question must be yes. Four matches between Kiwi and Aussie sides all went to the Kiwis by a total score line of 150 – 64 with the New Zealanders scoring 21 tries to the Aussies 9. The match between the Waratahs and the Crusaders pretty much summed up the gap that exists between Australian and New Zealand Rugby. The Crusaders squad was made up of very well educated footballers who showed they know how to win football games. They played with power and pace, with skill and control. Their attack was direct as they played with width and depth to put on six tries. In contrast the Waratahs fumbled their way through the eighty minutes. They didn’t compete at the breakdown and their one on one first up defense was appalling, with more than forty missed tackles on the stat sheet. The Waratahs attack was flat with the basic catch and pass game required nowhere to be seen. It has been said many times before that there is a basic skill problem in Australian Rugby and it is becoming more and more apparent as this season goes on. This problem has been ten to fifteen years in the making and it will probably take just as long to correct, if it’s not already too late. There clearly is a problem with Coaching and Development in Australian Rugby as the Kiwi’s continue to show us just how it’s done.

The IDRU Judiciary got off to big start this week. Avondale Flanker Sione Teaupa appeared before the Judiciary after being sent off at Vikings Field on Saturday. He copped a lengthy eleven week suspension after being charged with two offences. He was suspended for three weeks on the original striking charge for which Referee Andrew Strode sent him off. He was then handed a further eight weeks for Unsportsmanlike conduct for the incident that occurred as he left the field. I think anyone who was at the match last Saturday as I was, will agree that the Judiciary got this one 100% right.

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