Bulls dig deep to hold off Aggies

Harrison Friswell breaks through to score what would turn out to be the game-winning try in the Tumut Bulls 15-10 victory over the Ag College at Jarrah Oval on Saturday.

Despite the Tumut Bulls playing a brand of rugby that would be considered far from their best, the home side have come away from Jarrah Oval 15-10 victors when hosting Ag College in their round four Southern Inland Rugby Union match on Saturday.

In a tense result dominated by ill-discipline, errors and stoppages, the Bulls always looked the better team, but allowed their opposition to stay in the contest, with four players yellow carded during the 80-minute match, while Aggies won a penalty count somewhere in the vicinity of 30-10. 

Still, a stout and brave defensive effort, highlighted by touches of brilliance, was the cornerstone to a Bulls’ victory, which continues their unbeaten start to the SIRU season. 

While he was happy to be winning, Tumut coach Ray Wells admitted that discipline was his side’s biggest concern, and he was asking his players to believe and trust in each other.

“We were all enthusiastic, but we were not thinking about the next part of what we had to do,” Wells said.

“The discipline, we’ve talked about it, but we need to learn to trust and work with each other.”

The Bulls gave most of their penalties away at the ruck, with the Red and Blacks caught out on multiple occasions with players off their feet or entering the ruck incorrectly, and Wells said it came down to players trying to do too much.

“It’s funny, I was talking to Andy (Graham) about this, and we just need to trust the man beside us,” Wells said.

“If someone bounces past us, we need to know a man will come in and make the tackle, or if we hit the ruck, instead of trying to fight for it, we just need to roll away and someone else will come in and do the job.

“We need that trust in our players, and hopefully that will come as the season wears on.”

Sailasa Madrai sprints away to score the only try of the first half in the match between the Tumut Bulls and Ag College.

The Bulls are now two for two at home to start the season, and Wells hoped that Jarrah Oval would soon become known a fortress once again.

“We are building up a bit of a siege mentality at our ground. We want teams to know that if you come here, we will win,” Wells said.

“We will play it hard and either way, if you come here, you will need to play, and play hard to beat us.

“As we go through the season, we will have tougher challenges, but it’s about getting the mindset that every game we can win, and we know teams will come here wanting to beat us, so we need to be sharp right from the first minute.”

The Bulls, who were down to 13 men just after the half time break after back-to-back yellow cards, dug deep at times to quell multiple Ag College attacking raids, and Wells said he was happy to see a playing group willing to work hard when the cards were against them.

“I think it has been mentioned here a couple of times that when the going got tough in yesteryear, the guys would drop their head and then we would get steamrolled,” Wells said.

“But today, on our goal line, they barred up and stay disciplined, then we created mistakes and it got us out of trouble.”

The Bulls, who are shaping as the surprise packets of the 2021 SIRU competition, will now prepare for their biggest test of the season when travelling to Albury next week to take on the Steamers. 

“Albury away down there, they will be tough to beat,” Wells said.

“I have watched them on the video, and I think the biggest thing we need to do is look at our discipline around the ruck, work at staying on our feet, work at rolling away from the tackle and maybe look at our tackle technique and making sure we get below the chest line.”

In what was another big weekend of SIRU rugby, two other first grade games were played on Saturday, with Wagga City trouncing Reddies 41-10 at Beres Ellwood Oval, and Griffith upstaging a previously unbeaten Albury 18-13 at Griffith Exies Sports Club. 

Match report

Vincent Wise beats an Aggies defender at Jarrah Oval on Saturday.

As expected, the Tumut Bulls met Wagga Ag College in a physical contest at Jarrah Oval on Saturday, but unfortunately, errors and penalties paved the way for a very stop-start first half, with scrums and line outs dominating play.

The Bulls had their chances early, with one attacking phase seeming likely to bring points at the 15th minute mark, but Aggies held strong, and the contest remained nil-all. 

The visitors were the first to register points when the Bulls gave away a penalty in their own half and Aggies captain/coach, Elliot Barrett, converted to make it 3-0. 

The Bulls hit back straight away, forcing an error shortly after the kick-off and forcing a scrum, which led to a swift left-side play. 

Vincent Wise scooted left and drew in defenders before passing to Sailasa Madrai, who showed a clean set of heels when beating three Aggies defenders to the line to score. Isireli Baleitavuki converted and the Bulls led 7-0. 

The Bulls looked the better side in the first half and probably should have been further ahead, but penalties, accompanied by attacking plays breaking down at the last pass, cost the home side. 

To make matters worse, Lewis Simister was yellow carded just before half time for repeated infringements, and Tumut led 7-3 at the break.

After half time, Tumut were down to 13 players when Vincent Wise was yellow carded for a late shot, but to their credit, the home side held strong and kept Aggies out, even though the visitors had a handful of scoring opportunities.

With a full contingent back on the field, the Bulls showed their dominance in the scrum and forced a penalty when rolling over the Aggies forwards, which led to a Vincent Wise penalty conversion and Tumut led 10-3.

After a mountain of possession, the Bulls finally capitalised when Harrison Friswell found the ball on the right edge before bursting through two Aggies defenders to score. Vincent Wise missed the conversion and Tumut were up 15-3 with 22 minutes left on the clock. 

Aggies then had their chances, with multiple attacking opportunities, but they couldn’t crack a resolute Tumut defensive line. 

Harrison Friswell was yellow carded for a high shot, which led to a tough period for the home side and Aggies finally broke through with Tasman Kuhn scoring under the posts and Elliot Barrett converted for a 15-10 score line in favour of Tumut. 

Tumut had a chance to seal the win, but Vincent Wise missed a penalty conversion, and after Will Kingwill was yellow carded for a dangerous tackle, Tumut were left to defend one-man down for the remainder of the contest, holding strong to record a strong 15-10 victory over Aggies.