Ruthless Rams Take Title

After what has been one of the best finals series for years, the Camden Rams reigned supreme at WIN Stadium to take the 2013 Illawarra Builders Club Premiership with a comprehensive 20 points to 10 win over Avondale. Rams coach Brendan Schoupp came up with the perfect game plan which his players executed to perfection to deny the Wombats back to back titles. Camden’s outstanding defensive effort laid the foundation for the victory, never allowing the Wombats to show their trademark attacking flair.

The first half defensive effort from the Rams was dominant and at times brutal with lock Mark Nightingale leading the way with some enormous tackles. But it was Camden’s center pairing of Lee Russell and Sam Campbell who stood out as the Rams overpowered their opposition to set up the win with a lead of 20 points to 3 at half time. Avondale only managed to get into Camden’s quarter on 2 or 3 occasions during the entire half as Camden controlled possession.

 Although Fly Half Ben Greentree was obviously less than 100% fit and was being shielded in the defensive line, his direction in attack was crucial as he created space for his outside backs to capitalize. On the back of the relentless defensive effort right across the field, the tries came as Greentree worked his backline. The first try came when big center Sam Campbell made the break on the right and speedy fullback Tyler Aitkin loomed in support and raced away to score for the Rams to lead 5-0 after 12 minutes. Darryl Sanft responded minutes later with a penalty goal for Avondale and Lee Russell potted one for Camden to go out by 8-3 with about 15 minutes of the half to go.

The Camden backs put on two more tries in the last 10 minutes of the half to take a stranglehold on the match which would prove impossible for Avondale to break. Sam Campbell scored the first and with Russell’s conversion the lead was 15-3. A controversial try to winger Dane Kelly a minute from the break would prove pivotal to the outcome of the match. Fullback Aitkin, who was a constant threat, swooped into the backline creating space for Kelly to attack down the right. Kelly had plenty of work to do to score the try. Despite the strong attention of the Avondale cover he was ruled to have managed to ground the ball for the try prior to being bustled into touch. As a result the Rams went to the break 20 points to 3 up.

Avondale came out and threw everything at Camden in the second half, but the Camden defensive resolve remained strong. Ten minutes into the second half Andre Itula made one of his trademark runs down the left and found right winger Eli Sinoti supporting on the inside. Sinoti scored and with the try converted by Sanft, there was some renewed hope for the Wombat faithful with the deficit now just 10 points. Wombats dangerous center pairing of Sanft and Itula, supported by Leon Mason and Sinoti, tried to lift their effort but with the Camden centers doing a sound job shutting down their dangerous opponents, Avondale could only resort to trying to attack down the edges. With the Rams scrambling defense up to the task several scoring opportunities went begging when the final pass went to ground or players chose the wrong option as the Wombats played catch up without success.

But as is often the case in the big end of season matches it was the Camden defensive effort right across the park that won the day. Superbly led again by inspirational captain Gavin Holder, who led from the front all day, Camden were not to be denied. Center Lee Russell just pipped his partner Sam Campbell to win the Geoff Shaw Medal for Player of the Grand Final. Other Rams to stand out were Nightingale, who was ruthless in defense, halfback Josh Holman, Fullback Tyler Aitken and hooker Dave Gleeson who has been one of Camdens best right throughout their finals campaign.

For Avondale, veteran front rower Roger Cairns tried hard all day with Leon Mason and Andre Itula, constantly probing to get their side back in the match. Light weight flanker Josh Waine played above his weight and fullback Scott Morgan contributed well.

Match Details Camden 20 (Tyler Aitken 1 try, Sam Campbell 1 try, Dane Kelly 1 try, Lee Russell 1 goal, 1 pen goal) def Avondale 10 (Eli Sinoti 1 try, Darryl Sanft 1 goal, 1 pen goal)

Player of the Grand Final             Lee Russell - Camden

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