It might have only been a trial but the Tumut Bulls looked very strong in their first outing of the season when doing away with the Albury Steamers 25-10 at Jarrah Oval on Saturday.
In the five try to three victory, New Zealander Pita Herangi and Englishman Lewis Simister made their presence felt, with the international recruits adding some class to a hard working Bulls line up.
Herangi, who previously played for Cootamundra in the Oilsplus South West competition, has since made the move to Tumut and looks at home in the red and black.
The 21-year-old outside back enjoyed his first taste of Bulls rugby but admitted it was a tough first hit out.
“It was really hot but it was good,” Herangi said.
“I was a little rusty but I really enjoyed it.”
Simister on the other hand is a typical hardworking Pommie forward and was heavily involved when he was on the field.
Demonstrating some real aggression and energy in defence and some rugby nous during scrums and lineouts, Simister, who loved his fast time playing for the Bulls, looks to be a good pick up for the club.
“I loved it,” Simister said.
“It was hot and it was completely different to back home but I can’t wait to get out there again.”
The hooker, who hails from Manchester, was put straight to work by the Bulls, after only arriving in Australia last week.
“I’ve only been here about five days and I basically came straight to Tumut and stayed with David (West) and now I’m living in town and playing rugby,” Simister laughed.
The 27-year-old, who last stepped out for Manchester Rugby Club, said he was happy to finally make the decision to play rugby overseas
“I’ve always wanted to go overseas and play rugby and thought why not; I’m still young enough to travel the world and play a bit of rugby and I’m really happy I’ve finally done it,” Simister said.
Simister has enjoyed his brief experience of Tumut and Australia, alluding to the region as place he could one day put roots down.
“I’m loving it here,” Simister said.
“I’m obviously from a big city and over here is quite small and quaint and everyone is lovely and decent and the more I see of it, the more I think I could see myself settling down here.”
For the time being, Simister is keen to put his best foot forward for the Bulls and representative selectors in the Southern Inland Rugby Union competition.
“It’s been good, the lads are absolutely tremendous, all of them have been welcoming and I just want to perform my best for them,” Simister said.
“My big goal is to play in the Brumbies provincial team, play the highest level of rugby possible and say yes to everything and soak up as much as Tumut and Australia has to offer.”
Defence on show in strong trial win
In a strong defensive performance, the Tumut Bulls have accounted for the Albury Steamers 25-10 in trial match at Jarrah Oval on Saturday.
Despite the border team owning a majority of possession, the Bulls hung strong to hold off a visiting team that boasted seven regular first graders.
First-year Tumut coach Jonathon Hulks was happy with the performance but said there was definitely room for improvement.
“When they held their structure, they were good but they all wanted to jump into the ruck and get involved when they didn’t need to,” Hulks said.
“That was because of those early season nerves and that should fix itself with training and games.”
Hulks did highlight a few areas that would be of focus in upcoming training seasons.
“Body height and missed tackles were big issues and we will work on that, while fitness is always bad at this time of year but that will come with trials and games,” Hulks said.
In light of these areas that required notable improvement, there were some shining lights in the result, especially from the Bulls younger brigade.
“Lewis (Simister) was really impressive in his first hit out and I have to take my hat off to young Reggie (Coe) and Cooper (Carter), they were very good,” Hulks said.
Hulks reminded players that training was imperative heading into the first round of the Southern Inland Rugby Union season against Leeton on April 4.
“It was a good start but we need blokes at training,” Hulks said.
“If we can have a start like that and get people to training, the season starts to look a little brighter.”
Hulks would not have been happy early in the match though, with Albury controlling the breakdown and scoring the first try of the match only minutes into the contest.
The Bulls did hit back late in the first quarter though, with veteran Will McLennan-Dye breaking the line before kicking through and scoring, leveling the scores at five-all.
This same score would be taken into the break and kept throughout the second quarter, with Tumut holding off raid after raid with tenacious defence across the entire line.
Liam Owers and Koupa Ridley were two of the standouts at the breakdown, consistently calling for the ball and putting their bodies on the line against their more experienced opponents.
The third quarter was a more open affair and Cooper Carter was able to capitalise when he finished off a nice right side play, taking Tumut to a 10-5 lead.
Shortly after, Pita Herangi was in good field position and took the quick tap to power over the Steamers defensive line to score and take the Bulls to a 15-5 lead.
The Bulls carried all the momentum into the fourth quarter but Albury managed to score first with a slick right side play that found their winger streaking away for an impressive try, reducing the margin to 15-10.
Tumut then had a chance to show their worth, with some strong forward play earning penalties and good field position.
Jesse Bellchambers capitilised on the change in momentum when he tapped the ball and found a gap, powering over for a try and making it 20-10.
Albury hit back in the final few minutes to reduce the margin to just one try but in the final play of the game, a brazen Tate O’Donovan found the ball in his hands.
The Bulls fullback, who was returning from an ACL injury, kicked behind the line for Reggie Coe to score.
The try sealed the result and a confident 25-15 victory for Tumut in their first hit out of the season.
The Bulls will now prepare for a trial in Boorowa on March 27 before the Southern Inland Rugby Union season commences on April 4.