The Royal Devils sent shockwaves throughout the Tumut Pub 9s community on Friday night with two very dominant performances.
Led by a barnstorming Tom Murdoch, who was relentless in the middle of the field, the Royal were able to captilise out wide with their quicker men on the edges.
Stephen Gill was arguably the best player to grace Twickenham on Friday night, having a hand in everything the Devils put forward in both games, showcasing a deft passing and accurate kicking game.
Gill scored a hat-trick in the Royal’s 22-7 demolition of the Tumbarumba Greens before contributing to every try scored in their 20-6 win over the Commercial Sharks.
Royal coach Kevin Keogh believes his side has turned a corner after some heartbreaking results.
“I think all the boys know that they were unlucky to lose against Bowlie last week and we knew that we needed to win both games on Friday night,” he said.
“They were winnable games and the boys put in and got the job done.”
Keogh believes his side can now focus on the games ahead and their goal of finishing top two.
“I reckon everyone was bitterly disappointed after the first couple of losses and even if we keep winning, we all know those losses might cost us that top two position,” he said.
“We have Ori next week and a bye, so we can just go out there and really focus on getting the job done and helping our for and against.”
The Devils coach heaped praise on his side in the lead up to this week though, saying that it was his team’s defence that makes them standout as Roddy Shield contenders.
“We would have the best defence in the 9s,” he said.
“We go out there with the attitude that the next set of six is key, if we score, we have to defend or if they score, we have to complete and attempt to go forward.”
The 2019 Bristow-Madigan Shield winners do look a dangerous proposition in 2020 and a top four finish definitely looks within their reach.
Winning double moves Bears into top 4
After losing rounds one and two of the Tumut Pub 9s in very ordinary fashion, the Bowlie Bears have since won three straight and find themselves inside the top four.
After a narrow win over the Royal Devils in round three, a Lachlan Bristow and Josh Webb led Bears accounted for the Star Redmen 14-8 in round four and the Oriental Colts 18-10 in round five.
Neither game was a whitewash but notably, the Bears defence has improved and they looked a more relaxed attacking outfit with Bristow calling the shots from first receiver.
Coach Mitchell Smith acknowledged the difference that Bristow had made since joining the Bowlie lineup.
“We had Hook (Lachlan Bristow) play for us and he was a big difference against the Star,” he said.
“He is a classy player that controls the game and he works in really well with Josh (Webb).”
Smith was pleased to see his side actually tackling in recent weeks, especially after the Bears leaked 45 points in their opening two rounds.
“I think the big thing is that we have stepped up defensively,” he said.
“We are sliding and talking in defense and playing a more physical game in the middle of the ground.”
The Blues reserve grade skipper also said his side was adjusting to playing only nine-minute halves and as a result, they were showing more urgency.
“We are still getting used to playing the shorter halves compared to the 15 minute halves and now we know we only have a few chances to capitalise,” he said.
The Bowlie Bears have a big chance to cement their place inside the top four and possibly push for a top two positions with round six and seven games against the struggling Batlow Tigers and winless Commercial Sharks.
“We can definitely still finish top two and we have a big chance this Friday to fix up our for and against but we know both sides can play and we need to turn up for both matches,” he said.
Colts down but not out
Despite not having won a game yet this competition, the Oriental Colts are moving in the right direction after some strong efforts in rounds four and five of the Tumut Pub 9s.
Oriental went down 16-4 to the strong Adelong team but not before really giving it to the Green and Gold.
The Colts were locked at 4-all with Adelong before going into the break down 10-4. Adelong were only able to add to their lead in the final play of the game, eventually winning three tries to one in a tough and physical encounter.
In their second fixture, the Colts were locked at two-tries all with the Bowlie for a long period until the Bears class shone through in the final two minutes, allowing them to eventually win 18-8.
Colts coach Jonathon Caffery was proud of his team’s efforts and hinted a win was just around the corner.
“We played really well but just ran out of puff and direction at key times during both matches,” he said.
“We had some defensive laps in the center but we will work on that.”
Caffery believes there is still confidence within the playing group as they prepare for the winless Commercial Sharks and in-form Royal Devils this Friday.
“By no means are we out of it, we have been playing well in parts and we will be up for it this Friday,” he said.
“We have Joe Gillespie back next and all going well, we should have a very similar side and we look forward to playing some more footy.”
Tumbarumba fall back to earth
In what was a tough fall from grace for the Tumbarumba Greens, the visiting side has lost their rounds four and five fixtures of the Tumut Pub 9s.
The Greens entered the competition in third place and unbeaten after tough wins over the Commercial Sharks and the Batlow Tigers but eventually fell to the Royal Devils 22-7 and the Woolpack Roosters 13-11.
Tumbarumba didn’t turn up against Royal, and were decimated five tries to one after playing the 18-minutes without any reserves.
In their second match, the Greens had two players on the bench and led the Roosters 11-4 but the class of the ladder-leading Woolpack side eventually shone through as they scored two tries in the final minutes to break Tumbarumba players’ and supporters’ hearts with a two-point victory.
Greens captain/coach Jordan Anderson said that player numbers and an early match left Tumbarumba disadvantaged in their loss to the Devils.
“I thought in the first half of the first game we started off very scrappy because it was a bit early for us,” he said.
“Nearly all of us got there 10 minutes before kick off but towards the end of the half we picked up a bit of momentum and started to be on top but half time came around too fast.”
“The second half started and because we only had nine players, I feel we just ran out of steam.”
Anderson was pleased with Tumbarumba’s efforts against Woolpack but blamed fatigue for the heart-breaking loss.
“In the second game I thought everyone went well and worked hard for each other,” he said.
“Our sliding defence was good and I thought we threw the ball around well when we needed too but just like the previous game, we ran out of steam because we only had two on the bench.”
After the consecutive losses, it doesn’t get easier for Tumbarumba this week either with important fixtures with the Adelong Green and Gold and the Star Redmen.
Tries, tries and more tries
In an entertaining Friday night at Twickenham, the Tumut Pub 9s has continued to live up to expectations, with a try-fest keeping fans on the edge of their seats.
Across eight matches played, teams crossed for 39 tries, which equates to just under five tries per game.
This feat is especially impressive when you consider games are only played for 18 minutes.
The Royal Devils were the most dangerous side on the night, crossing for nine tries in their two matches, while showcasing some razzle dazzle rugby league.
This attacking rugby league coincides with the Tumut Oldboys and Supporters Club announcing a round four and five gate of over $1300.
This is a great result for the club, which has seen record gates of $1700 and $1500 to start the season.
As the tries continue to be tallied, there is no doubting the crowds will continue to flock to Twickenham to see some of the best rugby league in the Riverina.