The Tumut Bulls were far from disgraced at the inaugural SIRU Sevens at Hay on the weekend, finishing fifth overall after a slow start and injuries hampered their earlier results.
The Bulls, who were organised by Harrison Friswell, lost their opening round games to Deniliquin (26-10), eventual SIRU Sevens winners Leeton (31-nil) and reigning SIRU champions Wagga City 24-nil; leaving the visitors at the bottom of the table.
Tumut bounced back in the Plate rounds though, belting Reddies 41-7 before enacting some revenge on Deniliquin to win the fifth-place plate 27-7.
Friswell was really pleased with his squad’s efforts, after being left with eight players on the day, compared to the squads of 13 and 14 players they were coming up against.
“The attitude to dig deep was very reflective of how we want to conduct ourselves over the next couple of years and turn the club around,” Friswell said.
“We led ourselves and improved every game. We also had a real family spirit with the two teams supporting each other.
“We are all really excited about next week and leading into the next season for the Bulls.”
In a sign for the future, Tumut called upon local product and Canberra Royals player Jesse Bellchambers for the five games, and he didn’t look out of place in the Red and Black, scoring in Tumut’s two wins.
The talented playmaker said Tumut played well, but a lack of numbers caught up with them at times.
“We had a top quality team there, even though we started with only eight compared to everyone else’s 14,” Bellchambers said.
“We were strong in our first three games but two injuries in our second game and a lack of a bench got to us, so we couldn’t do much.”
Bellchambers said Tumut would be more competitive next weekend in Leeton, especially with some players expected to return to the fold.
“We found our rhythm by the end of the day though and we got away with a couple of wins,” Bellchambers said.
“I reckon with a couple more numbers next week, that are top players too, we will be able to build on our performance and be a lot stronger.”
For the Tumut Bullettes, who were suiting up for the first time since the 2019 SIRU season, a lack of numbers and faster outside backs really cruelled their chances, with the visitors going down to Griffith and Hay twice, before losing to Leeton in their Plate fixture.
Veteran front rower Kylie Jensen admitted it was a tough slog but she was was still proud of the efforts of the women who made the journey to Hay.
“We came up against the winners in the women’s straight up with Griffith (and) unfortunately for us, we didn’t have much in the backs for speed for sevens, but held our own with forward runs,” Jensen said.
“I think Hay were a bit of a dark horse because we haven’t played them previously and they had a young side, mainly a backs team as well.
“We played both teams twice and, in the finals, played against Leeton. We were able to match Leeton but after four games, we were all pretty worn out and suffering a few injuries”
The Tumut Bulls and Bullettes will now get a full week to recover before venturing to Leeton for the second and final round of SIRU Sevens, and it is expected both sides will have more players to call upon.