The Leeton Phantoms let loose a first-grade calibre squad at Jarrah Oval on Saturday, proving way too strong for a young and somewhat inexperienced Tumut Bulls second grade team in the final round of the Southern Inland Rugby Union second grade competition.
The Bulls were the first to score points when Jacob Hardwick slotted a penalty conversion, but after that, it was all one-way sailing, with Leeton running amok, highlighted by some brilliant second and third phase rugby that led to a 59-3 win.
Soropepeli Soqu led by example for Leeton, returning the ball with vigour and scoring two brilliant individual tries.
Soqu was well supported by Sainivalati Ratudradra, who dominated the middle, playing at hooker but sometimes resembling a flyhalf, with some fleet-footedness akin to those players out wide.
Despite suffering a tough loss, Bulls coach Will Reynolds believed Tumut kept with Leeton for a majority of the contest.
“It was tough result, but we were up against an undefeated team and we played out of our skin for the team we had on the field,” Reynolds said.
“Really, it was probably a 15-minute period in the second half that allowed four to five quick tries that cost us the game.”
Reynolds admitted Leeton may have been the better side on the day, but believed some of his younger players won the individual battle against their opposition number.
“Our young guys were playing well out of their depth and probably played better than the man in their position,” Reynolds said.
“Their team as a whole was better overall, but it was an outstanding performance from our guys and the heart they showed was absolutely tremendous and they never gave up, not once.”
Leeton coach Liam Ward was happy with the result, even though his side finished with only 13 players on the field after two yellow card infringements.
“They all got stuck in, we had a game plan from the get-go, and they executed that plan really well,” Ward said.
“The only issue for us was from a discipline point of view.”
An undefeated Leeton have been touted as the competition favourites, but Ward wanted to remind people that his side was very young and not necessarily stacked with first grade talent like many assumed.
‘Overall, I was really happy with how the season went for us, it’s good for the club,” Ward said.
“We played four kids out of Yanco Ag High School, they are all 17-year-old kids who are getting stuck in and having a crack and that is all that matters for us.”
The result ends the year for Tumut’s second grade team though, while Leeton, City, Albury and Waratahs progress through to finals.
Next week, Leeton take on City for a spot in the grand final, while Albury and Tahs play in a sudden death Semi-final.
SIRU second grade standings: Leeton 29, City 24, Albury 20, Waratahs 14, Tumut 5, Deniliquin 5, Reddies 5.
Aggies bounce back to form
Wagga Ag College have put last week’s big loss to CSU Reddies behind them when belting the Leeton Dianas 45-15 at Beres Ellwood Oval on Saturday.
Adjungbilly product and former Tumut Bullette Clare Harpley said the score line didn’t necessarily represent the closeness of the contest though.
“It was a really tough hit out against Leeton, they were a really good side and in the first half they were matching it with us all the way,” Harpley said.
“All season we have been trying different combinations and just having more time playing together in the same combination really allowed our teamwork to kick in.
“In the second half, the Aggies were really able to dominate in all aspects of the game.”
Harpley said the result was exactly what Aggies needed before a tough Southern Inland Rugby Union women’s 10s finals series.
“(It was) the perfect lead up for finals footy. Going forward we have a glimpse of what we can do from yesterday’s (Saturday) game and it gives our whole team a lot of confidence if we play to our strengths, we are going to play great rugby,” Harpley said.
The former Bullette touched on the Aggies all-inclusive nature, that has made the involvement of Tumut and Adelong rugby players that much easier this season.
“The Aggies are a very inclusive team because everyone comes from everywhere. But it’s great having the Tumut and Griffith girls as they have both bring a lot to the team,” Harpley said.
“Tumut’s club is very much like the Aggies; everyone supports each other, and they love their rugby as I have since my Bullant days.”
This Saturday looms as a big day for the combined Aggies line-up after finishing second and booking a top of the table semi-final clash against Reddies.
SIRU women’s 10s standings: Reddies 25, Aggies 25, City 20, Waratahs 15, Leeton 9, Albury 5, Hay 0.