If there was one major difference between the Blues and Roos in their Weissel Cup match at McDonalds Park on Saturday, it was Liam Fitzsimmons.
The former Blue, who helped his Tumut Minor League side to multiple premierships during under 12s, 13s and 14s, turned out for Wagga and set up two tries and scored one himself in the home side’s 20-12 victory.
“It was good to get a win and score a try against my old team. I am mates with all the boys and obviously there is some competitive banter, but it was all good fun,” Fitzsimmons said.
The 18-year-old, who now resides in Sydney and attends St Gregory’s College, acknowledged his history with Tumut and reminisced on that success.
“Pretty much every year I was there with the boys we won a premiership. We had guys like Paul Groves and Drew Beavan, and Laurie King was our coach and it was a good period,” Fitzsimmons said.
Fitzsimmons, who played Canberra Raiders under 16s, said he wouldn’t be playing many games in 2020 due to schooling commitments.
“I played for Canberra in under 16s but I didn’t get much of a run there, and last year I played with Roos a bit, but with school, I was only able to play a couple of games and it will be the same again this year,” Fitzsimmons said.
Blues coach, Jon Burgun said that Fitzsimmons was the difference in the result, proving to be a class act in the tight fixture.
“Liam probably changed the game when he went on, he is a good player and full credit to his contribution,” Burgun said.
The Blues were very fired up for the contest and gave the home side good field position after silly penalties and mistakes, and after two early tries they trailed 12-nil at the half time break.
The Blues fought back in the second half and Ethan Gilchrist would go on to score two tries for Tumut, including an impressive interception at the end of the game, but it wouldn’t be enough as the Roos ran out 20-12 winners.
“I was a little bit disappointed with some of our discipline,” Burgun said.
“Some of the boys were putting in the effort and I did try to fire them up before the game and it might have backfired on me a little bit.
“They were aggressive and gave away crucial penalties and made crucial mistakes at the wrong times of the match.”
Despite the losing result, Burgun believes Roos are one of the top teams and his side isn’t too far off the mark.
“They only got beaten 20-12 by a handy side. Roos will be there when the whips are cracking and we are going to be pretty close,” Burgun said.
The under 18s will have their biggest test on Sunday though, when taking on the 2019 premiers, Young Cherrypickers at home.
Sullies share points with Yenda Blue Heelers
Saturday’s Sullivan Cup match between the Tumut Blues and Yenda Blue Heelers at McDonalds Park was marred by an injury and only the first 30 minutes was played.
Blues player Hamish Plum went down with pins and needles just on the half time buzzer, and with the scores being locked at 6-all and the ambulance taking some time to arrive, the game was declared a draw.
Luckily, Plumb was able to walk from the field and it is suspected a pinch nerve was the cause of his distress.
Prior to the injury, an entertaining game of rugby league saw the very physical Blue Heelers bash around the Blues, who weathered the storm.
The Blues had the better of momentum towards the break though, and looked to be taking advantage of a large but tiring Yenda forward pack, highlighted by hooker, Brody Hillier scoring a good try close to the line.
Blues coach, Dan Roddy was pleased with the performance of his young side, who were coming off a tough 18-6 loss to Gundagai the week earlier.
“I think it was a big improvement. We worked through our sets a bit better and our ball control was a lot better,” Roddy said.
“Discipline was the big improvement; I was pretty happy with their effort. They were a really big team across the park and I actually thought we were starting to get on top of them.”
Roddy was taking positives from the result, and reminded his players they were now on the board and should be ready for a big game against Young Cherrypickers next weekend.
“We are off the mark. I was happy with the way the boys played and with the way the game was going, the longer it would’ve progressed the better we would have went,” Roddy said.
“Overall, it’s a bloody good competition and there are no easy games. We haven’t played Young for a few years and they came second last year and they will be tough to beat.”
In a good sign, the Blues spine really took control on Saturday, with Hillier one of the standouts for the young side.
“He (Hillier) was good, he is looking after the middle and Jimmy (Booby) and Ben Cassidy look after the edges and everyone is putting up their hand and doing their job,” Roddy said.
Unfortunately, Haiden Ings could be sidelined after suffering an ankle injury, which kept him from returning to the field on Saturday.
“Another injury concern is Haiden Ings. He has been massive on the right edge and he injured his ankle and we will have to wait and see how he pulls up,” Roddy said.
Taggers humbled by seven tries
The Tumut Blues league tag team fell back to reality on Saturday when going down to the Wagga Kangaroos 34-nil at McDonalds Park.
The home side was just too quick and well drilled for the visitors, dominating the ruck and adding some real zip to the overall pace of the game.
Despite early chances to score, the Blues were held out and often gave up big metres in the middle after holding good field position, allowing the Roos to take their opportunities.
Sophie Gaynor capitalised for the Wagga side, scoring three tries, while former Tumut girl Jess Beer even scored a try, only adding to the Blues woes.
Blues co-coach Brayden Draber said the speed of the game cost his side any chance of victory, but he admitted an experienced Roos team deserved the win.
“I think the Roos just played a lot quicker and faster but they have been playing together for a couple of years,” Draber said.
“They are really gelled together and play well off each other.”
Draber went as far as saying the Kangaroos were the team to beat in 2020, after winning their first two games, which included a victory over 2019 premiers, Wagga Brothers.
“I think they are definitely the benchmark; they played good last week and they will definitely be tough to beat,” Draber said.
The Blues aren’t losing hope though and will address some defensive deficiencies this week at training before facing Young, who themselves are coming off a 24-nil victory over the Gundagai Tigers.
“We’ll definitely be working on our defensive side of the game and coming off the line,” Draber said.
“Our defense was terrible and they killed us through the middle, so we will be working on getting off the line and our kick chase too, it just wasn’t good enough today (Saturday).
Reggies no match for Roos
Injuries and defensive lapses really let the Tumut Blues reserve grade team down at McDonalds Park on Saturday when beaten 24-8 by the Wagga Kangaroos.
After a testing period, the Blues made mistakes coming out of trouble and gave the home side good field position, which they were able to capitalise on.
Jack Dean and Matt Free worked hard in the middle, while Matt Tozer and Blake Maher was arguably the Blues best when coming out of trouble, but it wasn’t enough it what a disappointing result for a Tumut side confident of a win.