Victory under lights

Tumut Bulls open SIRU account with win over CSU

Will Luff and Jack Heffernan work hard in the Tumut Bulls 22-17 victory over the CSU Reddies at Beres Ellwood Oval on Friday night.

An undisciplined Bulls got away with their first win of the Southern Inland Rugby Union season on Friday night when accounting for CSU Reddies 22-17 at Beres Ellwood Oval.

Playing under lights and in slightly dewy conditions, Tumut were by far the better side; yet a spate of penalties leading to three yellow cards kept Reddies in the contest. 

Bulls’ coach, Jonathan Hulks didn’t beat around the bush and said that Tumut’s discipline needed to improve going forward. 

“We really need to fix that discipline in our side. When we have ball in hand and stick to our structures and execute, we look like a top team,” Hulks said. 

“We defend well, but we are giving away those easy penalties, whether it be last man’s feet or offsides, or whatever else it might be. 

“If we fix that, I believe we are real contenders but we need to fix that if we are to be there at the end of the season.”

The Bulls conceded a mammoth 22 penalties in the 80-minute contest, giving away 11 offside calls. 

“A 22-12 penalty count isn’t great and it is something we need to work on. We need to have a good look at ourselves and work out what has to change,” Hulks said. 

When asked what was the difference between Tumut and CSU on Friday night, Hulks pointed toward the Bulls staunch defensive effort and willingness to work for one another. 

“It came down to a bit of Tumut hardness and just punching it out, defending and backing up your mates,” Hulks said. 

Bulls’ assistant coach and fullback, Mitch Ivill said that considering the conditions, ball control wasn’t too bad, and praised an ever-improving Bulls attack. 

“Considering the amount of dew there was when we were warming up, it actually wasn’t too bad and I thought we kept the ball in hand pretty well,” Ivill said.  

“In terms of attack, we are still figuring it out but we were a lot better today. We kept our structures and retained the ball really well, especially out wide and then we got back in and settled in the forwards.”

Ivill couldn’t fault the Bulls defence either, and said it was a remarkable effort after Tumut was left defending with 14, and sometimes 13 men in the second half.

“Defence, I can’t fault it. Considering we were playing with 13 and 14 blokes for 20 or 30 minutes of the game, we held them out and beat them, which in the end is a testament to how hard the boys are working,” Ivill said.

Reddies coach, Paul Hood also believed it was Tumut’s defence that helped them to victory. 

“In the first half, we probably left a few points out there to be honest. We probably had 70% of the ball inside the attacking 22 and you need to be coming away with points when you are camped there,” Hood said. 

“Full credit to Tumut, their defence was good and they forced us into a few errors and they were always going to be hard to peg back once they scored a couple of tries, which is how it worked out.”

“We got a couple tries late but it was too late in the match.”

The key moments of the match

Beres Ellwood Oval was a very different venue under lights on Friday night, with the centre of the field notably darker and the dewy conditions making it hard on the most seasoned rugby players. 

As a result, the contest between the Tumut Bulls and CSU Reddies was littered with errors and penalties in the early stages, with neither side able to gain a stranglehold on the contest. 

The ball went up field stylishly at times, but at key moments, the ball would find the ground or a penalty around the ruck would be called.

Bulls forwards Will Kingwill, Jon Carmody and Will Luff were focal points during this first 15 minutes, working hard on both sides of the ball and making some very telling runs through the middle.

Kingwill was especially impressive but did look to suffer from a lower leg injury as the first half wore on.  

After defending a period on their own line, a splendid kick from Tate O’Donovan found touch inside the Reddies 22m line and the visitors took advantage of the good field position.

After a few pick and drive phases, Harrison Friswell found Jack Heffernan for the first try with the second rower crashing over on the right edge; O’Donovan converted for a 7-nil lead. 

Following points, the Bulls found themselves under immense pressure when Phil Shaw (high tackle) and Jon Carmody (repeated infringements) were yellow carded in quick succession.

After four more penalties against the Bulls, Reddies boasted a mountain of possession on the Tumut line and finally scored when Liam Krautz crashed over from close to the line; Gino Suriani was denied by the post on the conversion attempts and the Bulls still led 7-5. 

Shortly after the try, Tumut worked the ball down field and took advantage of a penalty inside of O’Donovan’s range and the sharpshooter converted for a 10-5 lead.

The Bulls did have a chance to score more points just before the break, with 10 consecutive phases on the Reddies goal line but a field goal attempt by O’Donovan was blocked and the score remained 10-5. 

At the start of the second half the Bulls looked a different team and started to move the ball well with Mitch Ivill and Cooper Carter making big metres on the edges. 

Points then followed when O’Donovan played the ball right to Tuwame Turaganivalu, who burst through and offloaded to Mac Cusack who scored; O’Donovan missed the conversion for a 15-5 lead. 

Following on from the points, Ivill made a slashing run up the middle to have the Bulls inside the Reddies 22m line. 

Two phases later and it was O’Donovan with a beautifully weighted kicked behind the line that was scooped up by Ivill who scored; O’Donovan converted for a 22-5 lead. 

Unfortunately, Turaganivalu was yellow carded in the 67th minute for a high shot and while the Bulls were short a player, Reddies found two tries via Brad Crawford and Jacob McIntosh. 

Despite the late onslaught, CSU ran out of time and the Bulls recorded their first win of the 2020 SIRU season. 

Tumut Bulls 22 (Tries: Heffernan, Ivill, Cusack; Conversions O’Donovan 2; Penalty Conversions: O’Donovan) defeated CSU Reddies 17 (Tries: Krautz, McIntosh, Crawford; Conversions: Suriani).