Aitken calling on 18s to improve against Pickers

Mal Aitken will be looking to have a big game against the Young Cherrypickers at Twickenham this Sunday.

Tumut’s Weissel Cup team faces the ominous task of hosting the 2019 premiership winning Young Cherrypickers at Twickenham Oval this Sunday.

The under 18s started their season in good fashion, when defeating Gundagai 22-16 at home, but we were well beaten against Wagga Kangaroos in round two, going down 20-12. 

The Cherrypickers on the other hand were good winners over the Yenda Blue Heelers 16-10 in round one before a 12-6 defeat at the hands of the Tigers on Sunday. 

Blues halfback, Mal Aitken touched on poor discipline and ball handling when discussing the Blues loss on Saturday; areas he believed his side would need to address this week. 

“I think our structure just went straight out the window. It was a very intense match with two sinbins in the first half, which really did not help the boys,” Aitken said. 

“I think we need to work on our discipline and work on our completion rate, as we hardly even completed a set against Roos.” 

Aitken said the Blues imposing forward pack, that boasts the likes of Jack Hillier, Will Hassett, Tom Denson, Luke Stuenkel and Jordy Maher, would need to set the platform on Sunday. 

Coming up against the usually physical Young Cherrypickers on Sunday, the Blues will need to get on the front foot, especially if the Blues strong backline are to capitalise. 

“Young will be a tough game as well this week; if we play well and complete our sets, I think we have a good shot at beating the Pickers,” Aitken said. 

“We will really need our forward pack on their game this week, working hard in the middle then getting the ball to our quick players on the edge, but we can only wait and see what happens on the day.”

The tough little playmaker was also putting pressure on himself to make the right decisions at key moments of the match against Young. 

“I’m going to have to step up a bit more this week, as the past couple weeks I haven’t been playing my best footy,” Aitken said. 

“I think just not making any silly errors that lead to turnovers and having a good kicking game (and) forcing repeat sets is what I need to add to the team.”

Aitken was seemingly being tough on himself though, with the 17-year-old one of the team’s best in recent weeks, alongside new recruit and Albury playmaker, Preston Fuller. 

“It’s great playing with Preston, and as time goes on, we will start to link up much better,” Aitken said. 

Lower grades in for a tough day at Twickenham

Tumut’s reserve grade, Sullivan Cup and Leaguetag teams will be facing some of the strongest sides in their respective competitions at Twickenham Oval on Sunday. 

The Blues reserve grade side, who have lost both of their games to start the season, will be up against the 2019 grand finalists Pickers.

Young defeated 2019 premiers, Gundagai 16-6 last weekend after smashing Junee 46-nil the week earlier.

Young’s reserve grade side resembles a first-grade squad after the hefty recruitment drive the club undertook in the off-season.

The Picker’s league taggers are on top of the table after massive 50-4 and 24-nil wins over Junee and Gundagai respectively, and will be tough to beat on Sunday. 

Tumut, who beat Gundagai 12-10 first up, struggled against the Roos taggers last week and will need to lift for this contest.  

Young’s Sullivan Cup team is yet to get off the mark after going down to competition favourites Junee 30-4, before a narrow loss to Gundagai 14-12 last week. 

The Pickers will be tough in the under 16s though, and Tumut will have to be at their best if they are to record their first win of the season. 

Kick-off times 

10am: Sullivan Cup

11.10am: Wiessel Cup

12.30pm: League tag

1.20pm: Burmeister Shield

2.35pm: First Grade