A sustained second half comeback from Tumut’s under 16s fell short in the opening game at Anzac Park on Saturday, as the Blues wound up their season with a 20-12 loss to neighbours Gundagai.
Down 14-0 at half-time, Tumut surged back with three straight tries in the second stanza. Some wayward goal-kicking ensured they trailed 14-12 with nine minutes to play, before Gundagai wrapped up the result with a try to backrower William Murray with five minutes to play.
Blues coach Dan Roddy was pleased with his side’s application during the final round of the regular season, and after a rocky year that saw them fighting for numbers, he felt that his side had done well throughout the season.
“Today was probably one of our better performances actually. We’ve been a little bit up and down throughout the year, and struggled with numbers and a few injuries, but they went pretty well today. I was quite happy with their performance,” said Roddy.
“It’s always a good challenge between these two sides; there’s never a lot in it, and the boys were keen for a good game to finish off the season.”
There was a typically rugged start to proceedings and veteran referee Max Biles opted to take some heat out of the situation by giving a couple of players a stint in the sin bin during the opening salvos.
The softening up period complete, it was the Tigers that knuckled down to play some decent football.
A towering bomb set up the first try for centre Cody Bell in the 15th minute and it wasn’t long before he was over again.
Gundagai had their third moments later courtesy of a terrific movement, starting when prop Jacob Kerrin-Bayer offloaded to hooker Kane Lindley, who split the defence and found Bell. He launched a speculative kick which bounced fortuitously for five-eighth Caleb Piper to pounce, putting the home side up 14-0 after 20 minutes.
After a lengthy period without the football, the Blues gained a foothold into the game late in the half on the back of a number of penalties, but they couldn’t quite muster the sharpness in attack to take advantage.
Things started better for the Blues in the second half. Applying plenty of pressure it was second rower Hamish Plum who crashed over on the left edge four minutes into the half.
Tumut was now enjoying the lion’s share of possession and had found its rhythm. A long pass from James Booby gave fullback Zac Treglown enough space to get over for his side’s second, and at 14-8, the visitors were within striking distance with 15 to play.
Still dominating possession and benefitting from some powerful Haiden Ings surges, Booby delivered a delightful pass to put Plum over for his second, as the Blues continued to profit on their left edge.
Tumut, however, couldn’t land a goal, and they trailed 14-12 with nine minutes to play.
And that’s where the fightback ended. The Tigers finally got their hands back on the ball and a kick once more caused the Blues headaches, this time leading to a try for Murray. The conversion was successful and the Tigers were home at 20-12 with a few minutes to play.
Gundagai will now play the Young Cherrypickers in the minor semi-final.
For the Blues, Ings was a standout, Nathan Butt was strong and Booby had some nice touches, while Gundagai’s Piper and Bell were the pick of the victors.
Juniors play outcracking draw
Tumut and Gundagai couldn’t be separated in Saturday’s Weissel Cup fixture, playing out a thrilling 28-all draw.
The scores were level more often than not throughout the contest and no team was ever more than a try in front.
After a fairly dour opening half in which both teams scored a couple of tries, the game opened up after the break and threw up a ripping finish when the tries came thick and fast and the result was in doubt right up until the final play.
There wasn’t a lot of expansive football in the opening half, but there were four tries nonetheless.
Tumut’s gun five-eighth Ethan Gilchrist got things going for his side with some sweet stepping from close range to open the account eight minutes in.
Some ill-discipline didn’t help the Blues in the next period and eventually Tigers prop Ben McFarlane burrowed over a little too easily to level things up.
A dummy half effort to Shay Thomas continued the simple but effective style of both teams as Tumut went ahead 12-6 midway through the half, but in a sign of how even things were, the Tigers responded via a well worked move targeting the left edge for backrower Jordan Wilson to drag a couple of players over in a determined effort.
Locked at 12-all at halftime, the two sides expanded their style in search of an edge.
The Tigers sent the ball wide, creating an overlap to send Braydon Lanyon-Rolfe over, capped by a great conversion from out wide by Jake Hay.
Hay continued to impact on the game with a fantastic 40-20 kick to trap the Blues five metres out from their own line. Tumut defended tenaciously, and were rewarded when Malik Aitken scored a sparkling try at the other end moments later. Once more the scores were locked at 18-all.
With the game really beginning to open up it was the Tigers to strike next, swinging the ball to both sides of the field but ultimately cracking the defence with a well-placed grubber for Jack Lloyd to scoop up the open ball and dive over for a 22-18 scoreline in the 43rd minute.
There was no chance of either team getting a stranglehold on the game though, as the Blues answered with 10 minutes remaining when the elusive Preston Fuller wrong footed a scrambling defence to touch down.
Crucially, it was near the sticks and the conversion had the Blues up 24-22.
Bizarrely, Tumut gave away a penalty when they were in possession in the set after the kick-off, opening the door for Hay to snatch back the lead, and just like that the Blues again trailed by four.
This time it was the Tigers that couldn’t complete their set from the kick-off, thanks to a Gilchrist one-on-one strip, and a hard-running effort from Fuller evened things up with just a minute or so to play.
As the clock counted down, Tumut fumbled the kick in the in-goal, giving the the Tigers one final chance.
The Blues goal-line drop out was a pearler, travelling more than than 50m on the fly, and the Tigers’ subsequent long-range field-goal attempt fell short to end a thrilling contest.
Star performances from Gundagai’s Jake Hay and Tumut’s Ethan Gilchrist headlined a host of good contributions. Jack Lloyd, Corey Longhurst and Ben McFarlane for the Tigers and the Blues: Jordy Maher, Malik Aitken and Preston Fuller all had strong games.
Blues coach, Jon Burgun, was pleased with his side’s effort against a Tigers side that enjoyed a lot of possession, saying that it was simple mistakes that cost his side in an entertaining game of football.
“It was a good game of footy, end-to-end sort of stuff, but I was a bit disappointed for our blokes, with their discipline and ball control letting them down a bit,” said Burgun.
“Gundagai had a lot of possession, and they played good footy, completed a lot more sets than what we did, so a draw for us was probably a good result.”
The two teams will meet again in the minor semi-final this week.
Tiger taggers snag semis berth
The Gundagai Tigers leaguetaggers were able to hold out a determined Tumut Blues in their round-eight clash at Anzac Park on Saturday, winning 18-10. The win for Gundagai allowed them to claim the final top-four spot on the premiership table, and coupled with the rivalry of a local derby, it provided for an open and entertaining match.
Laci Bower, Monique Luff and Jordan Cooper had strong games for the Tigers, while Billie Deacon, Monique Bullock, Emma Patterson and Adelene Wells played strongly for the Blues.
The Tigers were the first to score, when Laci Bower claimed the first of her two tries in the eighth minute, placing the ball under the posts for an easy conversion, and a 6-0 lead.
Tumut got straight on the front foot after conceding points, with Billie Deacon scoring a good try, but with the conversion unsuccessful the home side held sway at 6-4.
Gundagai were able to build pressure over the next period, and weight of possession saw them score at the 17th minute mark through Monique Luff. Laci Bower converted and Gundagai went into half time 12-4 up.
Sometimes the break does not serve teams well, and this appeared to be the case for Gundagai as they coughed up possession regularly in the opening stages of the second stanza. The Blues took advantage of this, and in the 34th minute Breanna Wells grubbered the ball through the defensive line, and then regathered to score a brilliant try.
Monique Bullock added the extras to make the score 12-10, and then a big break from Emma Patterson put Gundagai on the back foot. The crowd could sense a repeat of the grandstand finish that was witnessed at Twickenham in round one, but the Tigers defence continued to hold strong.
Laci Bower continued a great game by breaking the Blues defence open, and only minutes later the speedster was at it again, running 50 metres to score a magnificent solo try under the northern goal posts.
Bower converted her own try to make the score 18-10, and over the next 15-minutes Tumut threw everything they had at Gundagai, moving the ball around and breaking into the clear on several occasions, but were unable to bridge the gap.