Fri. Jun 14th, 2024

First Grade

North Tamworth Bears overcame a sloppy start to their Whitehaven Coal Group 4 season with a 28-10 win over Boggabri at Gunnedah’s Kitchener Park on Saturday.

The first of four Feast of Footy games was a dangerous assignment for the Bears after Boggabri had beaten them in the first round at Boggabri last season. However, the Bears overcame what coach Paul Boyce described as a “sloppy start” to claim a first-up win.

Boggabri’s chances of upsetting Norths a second year in a row took a hefty blow when halfback Andrew Wallace was sent off in the 38th minute for punching.

The Roos were trailing 16-10 at the time and had led 10-6 after tries to Malakai Kovefalou and Robert Doolan had given them the lead after 15 minutes.

Norths had scored the first try of the game when Misaele Vakacegu burst down the eastern sideline to score in the corner for Mitch Sheridan to convert.

The Bears dominated the second half with tries to Mark Simon and Lynken Dickson in the 35th and 57th minutes.

“I thought we were pretty sloppy,” Bears coach Paul Boyce told G4 Media.

“Ill disciplined too.”

While disappointed he thought there were plenty of positives.

“I thought the four guys who came off the bench were good,” he said of Mark Simon, Ryley McKay, Quinton Pomare-Anderson and Shaquille Ervine.

“Ryley was having his first game for us and was really strong.”

“Quinton did a lot of stuff up the middle for us. Mark was honest and scored a good try and Shaq did a real good job for us.”

He also thought hooker Liam Ball controlled ruck well for the Bears and fullback Lynken Dickson was sharp.

“I wasn’t happy with the way we played but happy we won. It was important we won for Jack,” Boyce said.

“Important we showed up”.

Club legend Jack Woolaston passed away aged 99 last week and his funeral will be held this Wednesday.

That his grandson, Tom Woolaston, played his 100th game for the Bears on the day was also a poignant milestone.

Boggabri coach Shane Rampling was a disappointed Roo. Not with just the loss but what he thought was a lack of consistency in the refereeing.

“I don’t mind losing but not like that. You get your halfback sent off fo punching and yet he’d been hit three times before that,” he said.

Prop Nic Millar also showed bite marks on his back for all to see.

“We showed a bit of ticker to play with 12 men for the rest of the game,” Rampling said of the 38th minute dismissal.

“We lost a lot of structure when Andrew went off.”

Fijian lock Malakai Kovefalou had a strong game too, he and Nic Millar made many metres with some big runs in the middle of the field.

“Malakai had a big game for us (on debut),” Rampling added.

“He’s in for a big season. Nick was good too. We were just starved of the ball in the second half, we got penalised for stuff they were getting away with.”

Meanwhile, Roosters started their Whitehaven Coal Group 4 first grade season with a 44-22 win over Narrabri Blues in the second game of Saturday’s Feast of Football at Gunnedah’s Kitchener Park.

Lighweight secondrower Liam Hatch crossed for three of the 10 tries as the Roosters took an early 12-nil lead and then blew that out to 34-6 at halftime.

The young Narrabri side tried hard with Josh Trindall and Chris Hunt leading the way.

They scored three times in a tit-for-tat second 40 minutes but couldn’t keep the Roosters attack quiet.

While Liam Hatch notched a third try Brayden Jerrard and Anders Glew both finished with try-doubles to close out the Blues.

It wasn’t Liam Hatch’s first try-treble.

“I scored four against the Creek a couple of years back,” he said in the jubilant Rooster dressingroom.

“It’s my first treble as a second rower though. Much of the credit goes to the blokes inside me, they did their job and I crashed over.”

The 85kilo hatch feels a lot fitter this year after he suffered a lacerated liver in a trial match before last season.

“I feel a lot more comfortable this year.”

“It was a good way to start too. We had a few lapses in defence but it’s something to work on.”

Roosters coach Mark Sheppard agreed.

“It’s a good way to start,” Sheppard said.

“Critical you get the early two points. Sets a good platform and gets everyone happy.”

He did say the Roosters were “pretty scrappy in the second half”.

“I wanted them to keep them to six but it gives us something to work on. Overall everyone did their job. Anders was great around the ruck, controlled it well. Liam was excellent and got himself into space. I was really impressed with how fit Kyle (Cochrane) was and Jasper (Thistle) was impressive. He’s only 18 but been training hard. He’s been doing the extra. Brayden Jerrard was good too in a new position.”

Formerly a fullback he was impressive at five-eighth and formed a good union with halfback Rhys Davis.

That meant Jack Rumsby played at fullback and he too impressed.

“He’s a great talker,” Sheppard said.

Narrabri Blues coach Glenn “Snowy” Collins has a young team to mould.

“Yeah, it’s a very young side,” Glenn Collins said.

“We’ve still got a few away.”

He also admitted that he might have had to “play today” at age 46 that would have been a tough assignment.

“I’m really enjoying it though,” he said of his appointment in late December.

“We’ve had a late start and it’s been tough. I’m just trying a bring a love of football. I got a lot out of it when I played, and I wanted to give something back.”

“I want to bring a belief back in the Blue guernsey. You don’t have to be the biggest fastest or hardest.”

While he hasn’t been coaching at the senior level he has been coaching anywhere from Under 6’s through to Under 13 and 14 junior sides as well as directing the junior competition in Narrabri.

He thought Gus Smith, Jeff Harvey, Cameron King and Sam Saddler were outstanding for the Blues and his young side can only improve.

The games continued as the Moree Boars confirmed their premiership aspirations with an impressive 20-point win over Dungowan on Saturday’s third of four Feast of Footy games at Gunnedah’s Kitchener Park.

The Boars raced in eight tries as brilliant little fullback Adrian converted just two of the eight tries in an abnormal kicking display.

The Boars also unveiled another, young attacking threat in hooker Lachlan McGrady.

The son of former Boar centre Barry McGrady, a premiership winner with the Boars in 1987 Lachlan was a constant menace to the Dungowan defence and it was his break from dummy half that led to a try for captain-coach Michael Watton.

That gave the Boars a 20-6 lead and while Dungowan scored two more tries to make it 24-16 at halftime the Boars crossed for three more tries in the second half to seal the points.

“It was good, we’ve got something to build on,” Michael Watton said.

“I was pretty happy with the second half defensive effort.”

Watton said his biggest problem is fitting “so many attacking weapons into the team”.

“And we’ve got Mark Pegus to come into this team as well.”

Watton was also delighted with the debut of lock Jack Durheim.

“He had a cracker,” he said of the lock.

“He’s a very good communicator and great for Jamie (Sampson) and I. He makes it easy for us.”

“Chris (Vidler) also had a great debut for us. He’s going to be good for the run and going to be so good for us.”

“Lachlan (McGrady) was great too and another attacking threat in the middle.”

Dungowan captain-coach Jack Cameron, who hopes to be back midyear after a shoulder reconstruction, was happy with his side’s effort.

“It was positive,” he said.

“A tough game first up against one of the best sides in the comp.”

“Their second phase beat us,” he said of a Moree side that made constant inroads with good offloads.

“Cochrane (Brenton) was just too good. And we don’t have any game fitness but we have plenty of positives to take out of that and it was a start.”

He thought Dylan Lake had a great debut for the Cowboys and is going to very handy when we get him the right ball.

“I thought Brayden (Allan) was our best,” he said of the young centre who was outstanding in attack and defence.”

Allan was a constant threat and may well be one of the stars of the G4 season.

And finally, Werris Creek Magpies swooped and handed the Gunnedah Bulldogs a 38-10 thumping at Kitchener Park in their opening Whitehaven Coal Group 4 first grade game of the new season on Saturday.

The Magpies were never in doubt, turning an early 10-nil lead into a 20-4 halftime advantage to a comprehensive 38-10 win.

Fullback Ronan Hadden scored three of the eight Magpie tries in an outstanding display while new pivot, Mitch Doring, also excelled.

Bulldogs fullback Emori Waqavulagi impressed scoring two brilliant tries, one a short range effort where he left three Creek defenders grasping at thin air and the other an 80m dash where he easily won the race to the line.

That second try gave his side a glimmer of hope, reducing the deficit to 20-10 but it was the Magpies who exerted the authority with Hadden scoring of his three tries in the space of five minutes, the second from a scrum win 20m out where he finished off some neat work by new halfback Mitch Doring.

Dave Murnane also excelled, marking his debut for the Magpies with the second of two tries.

Werris Creek coach, Dave Stewart, rated it a “good performance”.

“It was our first gallop,” he said.

“I was very impressed with our structure. It was a bit better than I expected.”

He thought young lock Nate Follington was outstanding.

“Nate, Taylor Swift, Charlie Parsons and Riley (Leonard) were great.,” he said of some of the younger and developing Magpies.

“Nate was our players player,” he said of Follington, who played in the Magpies’ winning Under 18 side last year.

“He’s got a massive work rate. He’s a natural-born footballer, loves the game.”

Stewart was also excited about the Feast Of Football concept with all four first grade games played at Kitchener Park, Gunnedah on Saturday.

“If they run it next year we want to be second or third game though,” he said.

He also said the new structure the Magpies are working on is something that might not be valued six or seven games into the season.

“We’ve got to be patient and stick to that new structure.”

Gunnedah coach, Sean Hayne, was disappointed in his side’s lack of ball security.

“We just made too many mistakes,” Hayne said.

“We might have completed just five sets of six for the whole game.”

“We turned over too much ball. And we didn’t defend our mistakes either. You can’t give a team like them that much ball.” He said his side needs to eliminate the mistakes and control the ball if it is to turn around today’s loss.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t control the ball and didn’t defend those mistakes.” He said of a side now preparing to tackle Boggabri in a huge local derby at Kitchener Park, Gunnedah this weekend.

Like what you’re reading? Support The New England Times by making a small donation today and help us keep delivering local news paywall-free. Donate now.