The Tumut Bulls might have lost to CSU Reddies on Saturday, but the future of the club was on show with two 19-year-olds named in the first XV.
Tom Kingwill made his first grade starting debut playing on the wing, while Ray McDonald was given his first top grade cap of 2020, playing at flanker.
Kingwill said it was a different experience playing against men, considering he had become accustomed to playing schoolboy rugby.
“It’s a good feeling to play first grade. It was good to play with a few of those older fellas but it is different coming from playing schoolboy rugby to playing against men,” Kingwill said.
The Adjungbilly youngster hopes to be a part of the Bulls family going forward but said university could get in the way of those plans.
“I think in the next couple of years, we can really challenge those top Wagga sides. If a few of the boys can step up, we can get there,” Kingwill said.
“I would like to hang around; I have university in Sydney, but it is an uncertain time and I don’t know what I will be doing right now.”
McDonald, who has been a regular in the Bulls second grade side this season, also touched on first grade being a big step up in class.
“It was good, a lot tougher and quicker than seconds, (and) there are a lot of good players to keep you on your toes, but it was good to play with the first-grade boys from Tumut,” McDonald said.
The Adelong product, who wants to become a regular in the Bulls first-grade squad, agreed with Kingwill and thought the Bulls future was bright, with so many youngsters making their first-grade debuts in 2020.
“I think Tumut has some good young talent coming through and even in the juniors,” McDonald said.
“I hope to be pushing to secure a first-grade spot and playing as much as I can in the future.”
Bulls assistant coach, Mitch Ivill said both Kingwill and McDonald played well, and hoped their selection in the side proved to be a catalyst for other players wanting to strive for first grade honours.
“It was great to have them get a crack at first grade and they more than held their own from what I could see,” Ivill said.
“Hopefully seeing these guys get a chance and playing well in the top grade will pave the way for other younger guys in reserve grade to really try and work hard and compete to be up in firsts as well.”
Those players looking to cement their place as regular first graders will get a few more chances to strut their stuff this season, when visiting CSU in a fortnight’s time before hosting Wagga City in the final round of the season.
Reddies edge gallant Bulls
CSU notched their first win of the season with a 41-33 triumph over the Tumut Bulls in a see-sawing contest at Jarrah Oval on Saturday.
Brawny inside centre Fetongi Tuinauvai – no stranger to Tumut – played a leading hand in a morale-boosting victory for the previously winless Wagga side.
Tuinauvai, a former Tumut Blues and Gundagai Tigers player who went on to play for Kangaroos, proved a constant handful for the Bulls defence, and his bustling runs set up a number of tries.
Nuggety breakaway Liam Krautz, hefty prop Brad Crawford and rangy lock Luke Seruwaqa also played leading roles in an entertaining tussle.
CSU coach Paul Hood praised his leading players, make a special mention of Tuinauvai and Krautz, who he believed were helping to usher through the next generation of Reddies players.
“They were Brilliant and having those blokes and getting that first win gives us a bit of confidence going forward, not just into this year, but next year as well,” Hood said.
“We are an improving club, and I speak to Krautzy a lot about pulling the young guys a side and helping them look at other options; and Fetongi, he is very vocal, and he plays some good rugby and it is good for us guys.”
The result sets up an enthralling rematch in a fortnight’s time, with Tumut and CSU playing off to avoid the dreaded SIRU wooden spoon.
“Tumut and us; we have very good and young squads and we are both developing,” Hood said.
“Tumut are going to be just as hungry to not finish fourth and we are going to do every we can to avoid that scenario too.
“We both get a week off and then we can get back into it the week after and see who gets the win.”
Bulls assistant coach Mitch Ivill commended his playing group for standing up and taking it to Reddies, despite boasting a younger and less experienced side compared to recent weeks.
“I thought we played well and really tried to play for each other this week, we were a little skinny on numbers, which made it a little tough with blokes playing in deferent positions, new players and blokes having to step up from reserves, but we got stuck in and although didn’t get the win, I thought we gave it a good crack,” Ivill said.
Ivill said there were no grand plans for the squad over the next fortnight, with the club focusing on getting the little things right.
“I think it’ll be getting our squad together and just trying to refine what we’re already doing in terms of our shape and structure,” Ivill said.
“I personally believe if we can show better discipline, we have some great footy in us.”
In the second of the Southern Inland Rugby Union round seven matches played on Saturday, Wagga City won their seventh straight match of the 2020 season, easily accounting for Wagga Waratahs 47-22 at Conolly Park.
City, who were led by a hat trick to their exciting outside back Noa Rabici, have now wrapped up the SIRU first grade minor premiership and get three more rounds of regular season rugby to prepare for Waratahs in the 2020 decider.
The key moments
Tumut got away to a great start when quicksilver centre Mitch Ivill came up with a slashing individual try with his first touch of the game to score under the sticks in the fifth minute,
But the Reddies soon got the upper hand, especially in the centre field, and for the next half-an-hour exerted their control on the contest.
Seruwaqa crossed for the students’ first try when he picked up the ball from the back of the scrum and forced his way over, before a blockbusting run from Tuinauvai saw fiery half Andrew Dutton cross a few phases later.
CSU were right on top and Seruwaqa set up winger Waisale Nayavulagilagi in the 35th minute to give the visitors a handy 17-7 lead.
The Bulls had a stroke of good fortune in the shadows of halftime when a desperate Phillip Shaw kick on his own try line bounced into space, allowing Ivill a chance to show his blistering speed, as he won the race to the ball and then turned the cover defence inside out in an 80m burst of pure pace to narrow the margin to 17-14 at the interval.
The second half commenced well for the Bulls, who started with plenty of enthusiasm to grab back the lead when Shaw surged over.
The two sides then traded tries before Reddies took back control in the final quarter.
Tuinauvai set up the next try to grab back the lead for the visitors and then Krautz barged over after the Reddies turned defence into attack.
Up 36-26 with 10 to go, the Wagga side ensured victory when Nayavulagilagi crossed for a second on the back of multiple phases.
The Bulls edged closer with a couple of minutes to go via a penalty try, when Krautz was deemed to have deliberately knocked the ball down as Tumut seemed set to score.
Krautz was given a yellow-card for the play, but Tumut wouldn’t have time to use the numerical.
CSU finished the match with only 12 on the field, after a Dion Calvi spear tackle led to some pushing and shoving between the sides.
Referee Brendon Reynolds handed yellow cards to Calvi and Dutton from the Reds, but then called off the game.
In second grade, a Tom Emosi double couldn’t help Tumut’s slim hopes of playing finals rugby, after they lost to the previously winless Reddies, 27-19 at Jarrah Oval.
It was a tough result to swallow for Tumut, who started the season in fine fashion with an away win over Deniliquin, before losing four straight games.
The Bulls will now prepare for their last game of the season when they host the top of the table and unbeaten Leeton Phantoms next Saturday.
Staines tears Aggies to pieces
A half-dozen try haul to CSU speedster Tess Staines highlighted the Reddies’ lopsided 49-5 win over Ag College in the women’s 10s clash at Jarrah Oval on Saturday.
Staines, a NSW rugby league under 18s representative last season, is a Leeton native who joined CSU this season. She’s quickly made her mark on the local rugby scene.
Her influence was obvious early as she crossed for the first four tries of the game.
The first two were runaway efforts inside the opening 10 minutes, while the third was engineered courtesy of some quick hands from her inside players.
The fourth was served up on a platter thanks to an Aggies mistake, giving the Reddies a 22-0 lead in quick time.
CSU would get a fifth before the break for a 27-0 half-time advantage, before Staines galloped away on an 80m try soon after play resumed to signal that the Wagga side wasn’t satisfied with their first half domination.
The only joy for Ag College came courtesy of a bullocking effort in the corner from Harriet Elleman to get her side on the board.
The Tumut contingent of Tammy Murdoch, Kayla Lubke and Clare Harpley all put in big efforts for Ag College but could do little once the ball got in the hands of Staines or fellow Reddies flyer Ellen McIntyre, who bagged a double.
CSU, a club that has more often than not been near the top of this competition since its inception, looks poised to land another premiership in 2020.
Aggies on the other hand will look to bounce back from defeat, when hosting Leeton next Saturday.