And then there was one…
The Double D banner was officially represented at the newly refurbished Concord Oval on Saturday 26th August for the 2023 Sydney Suburban Rugby, Division One Preliminary Finals by the middle-grade weekend warriors of 2nd and 3rd grades. However it must also be noted that the turnout from the larger club in general was fantastic to see, with not just lads from the other grades stepping forward, but more than just a smattering of old boys and other nearest & dearest on-hand to watch the days proceedings play out. The sun was out, the parking was thin and the pitch was dry and fast. So all in all, the stage was set and the circumstances were flawless for opponents to clash, to contest, strive and do-guile to either earn the right to return to the same venue next week for their respective ‘Big Show’, or pack the kit away and dream of what could have been, over the summer.
For the record, Mosman 5ths defeated Colleagues 5ths 10-7 at Boronia Park earlier in the day. And that was probably justice as it sets up a 1st vs 2nd table-topping grand final for next week’s Sutherland Cup grand decider. Minor Premiers Waverley thereby plays 2nd placed Mosman for the bikkies. And it’s to be played over the road from Concord stadium on the St Luke’s back ovals at a time TBC.
Again for the record, in the Judd Cup (4th grade) match, Waverley snuffed-out Colleagues 21-17 to set up next week’s clash of undefeated, table-topping, 12 from 12 Mosman against the 3rd table-placed Waverley (8 from 12). This match will open proceedings at Concord with a 9am kick-off for those so-motivated to be so-early (finals allow for extra time). I can almost smell the rum and bacon from here…
3rd Grade (Whiddon Cup). D.Reds vs Colleagues. Lost 15-14.
And so now did enter the fray the mismatch of youth and experience that combined did compile the motley crew of the Thirsty Thirds, the Red Widows, the Drummoyne Whiddon Cup side of 2023.
Comments from Supercoach Scully were summed up at the pub on Sunday afternoon, as he gently contemplated the broken face of his boy from across the table, in saying “So close, but so far.” And when I pushed him a bit further on that his replay was “It’s very hard to ponder what could have or should have been after losing by a solitary point in an elimination final. There is always controversy. One side will always see things differently to another. However, we never managed to get the rub of the green from the teenager officiating the game.” And as a participant in that affair, I for one agree with him.
From such an ethereal start, Supercoach Scully then waxed lyrical, commenting that the core of the team had germinated around November last year with a ‘bit of a ring around’ pricking the ears of a fairly young group with one or two old salters giving a sagacious nod that they would come and have a crack as well. As such, the foundations of a good side were laid under the stewardship of Supercoach Scully, ably assisted by Captain Courageous Tom ‘Doc’ Carruthers, whose leadership proved vital and talismanic throughout the year. And within that, as is the lot of 3rds, it was known that the group would need to be a fairly substantial herd as the turnstile of being the upper grades feeder would surely keep the pot of players steadily turning over. Players such as Flanno, Liam Corry, Tybs, Joe Colley, Mark and Ryan McDermott and others visited the Whiddon transit-lounge on their way to other places, often inspiring those they passed-by to achieve greater results. But there were also others like Mark and Ryan, LJ and others, whom wanted to return to rugby and be a part of a Thirsty Thirds campaign. Joining those were the likes of Fin Thompson, Will Freudenstein , Matt Doyle, Andre Wright, Tonga, Sione Nikua, Oscar Sobb , Cub, plenty of Colties including Josh Rhodes, Callum, Harry, Kelso and Ben Newall who all also did their spell in the Thirsties transit-lounge and played their respective parts. And among all that, it must be noted that post-covid weddings and family events, both domestically and overseas, also contributed to lengthy depletions for stalwart players such as Doc, Jobbo, Harry, Charlie Mannix and Cam Goodacre. But the ‘next man up’ always stepped in and did the job needed. And so to all who frequented our Red Widows transit lounge, we offer our thanks for the stitches they put in the jersey.
Regarding the game itself, comments from Supercoach Scully were that it became very clear very early that the Officials interpretation of the breakdown was very different to ours. And this was going to make it very difficult for our lads to establish any of the base foundation of phase-count on which our game plan has been built all year. But to be fair, we aided that disconnect by being too keen with the offload and not respecting the ball enough in the contact zone, and thus losing the impetus on our own accord all too often. Such wastefulness allowed Colleagues to stay in the game far longer than they should have and, in the end, proved our lads demise. While the lineout functioned beautifully and we generally had the better of scrum and were the more-dominant in the collisions, it was our breakdown work that drew the wrath of the whistle. And this disconnection with the Referee then flowed across larger aspects of the match to our significant detriment, none more so when No10 and goal kicker Nic ‘Super Boots’ Scully was felled by one of the more gob-smacking dastardly acts of foul play that I for one have ever had the displeasure of seeing on the generally well-behaved fields of Div 1 Subbies rugby. For the record, while taking a (successful) conversion of a try mid-way through the 2nd half, Nic was felled, well after the kick, by a blatant head-shot, from a Colleagues player who was allegedly ‘attempting a charge down’. Nic had his nose and sinus bone (cheek) broken and was momentarily knocked out. But to the incredulity of near everyone in the suburb, the Ref ruled this flagrant act of thuggery ‘an accident’ and took no further action while Nic took no further part in the game.
For the life of me, I’ve not ever seen the likes of such an act. I’ve seen (and partook in) my fair share of dastardly deeds on a footy field over the years. But not ever in my +40yrs of association with this game have I seen a defenceless conversion-kicker so blatantly felled, directly in-front of both touch-judges and a Referee, let alone for there to be then precisely zero action taken thereafter. How that incident was not both a penalty to Drummoyne at restart (for fouling the kicker) PLUS a red card to Colleagues player (who, accidently or not, clearly attacked the head of an opponent) is simply beyond me.
Anyway, what was done was done and could not be undone. Law 6.5.A was applied (Referee is sole judge of fact and law) and so we lost the match. But could the outcome been different had our fly-half and goal-kicker not been taken out so egregiously? Would the outcome have changed if we were awarded a penalty and had man-up advantage from our opponents dropping to 14 players for the remainder of the match? Only the sliding doors of time will ever know. And as a result, Colleagues will play Waverley in next weeks 3rd grade Grand Final while we pack our boots away.
Best and Fairest went as 1pt to Sam ‘Studying’ McKenzie, 2pts to some old fella who should give it up and 3pts to Mack Long.
Chat among the group is very positive to return next year as an older and wiser mob for another tilt at September glory in what will be a huge year in the history of the club. And with that, while we give wholehearted support (and reserves) to the Red Burkies in their tilt at glory, the Thirsty Thirds offer massive thanks to Supercoach Scully for his efforts throughout the last 10 months and, in doing so, also so say ‘Sayonara’ for another year.
So close, but yet so far.
2nd Grade (Burke Cup). D.Reds vs Hunters Hill. Won 36-21.
The reward for the Red Burkies in being last week’s solitary winner was to strap up the boots and do it all again in the Preliminary Semi Final. Accordingly, Micks Men geared up and lined up against the Old Foe Hunters Hill, who found themselves facing the Red Men as they lost 29-23 to Colleagues in the Major Semi Final the previous week. Given our Red Burkies had beaten Hunters in both meetings this year (36-24 and 19-12), they had the emotional edge coming into the clash and so stood ready to do what must be done to earn the right to take to Colleagues in the Big Show on September 2nd. But again as my old Dad used to say “Meat and potato first Boy. Then worry about gravy.” Accordingly, Hunters were on the plate first.
Comments from Supercoach Mick were that it was a great day and a great venue to be taking on the team who had taken ‘our’ second spot on the ladder, and so it was no surprise that the lads seemed ‘up for it’ and started the match at a cracking pace for Jimmy ‘The Pig’ Vuniawa to smash over for the first pie within the opening 5min. And shortly thereafter, Sione added his first pie to the tally with an Evan squirt of the sauce bottle to set the lads at a respectable 12-0 early. This was consolidated further by Ev shortly after the kickoff when a penalty saw the score stretch to 15-0. Unfortunately the good start led the lads to thinking they could ‘rack the cue’ a bit early and Hunters came raging back, aided by piggy-back penalties and a missed tackle or two, to post not just one, but two pies with sauce in reply to close out the first stanza and go to oranges at 15-14 to the Red Men.
Needless to say there were some calm and collected words about wasting opportunities in life at halftime. And so shortly after pleasantries restarted the course was corrected with Joey Colley finishing some great work to post a pie in the corner. Evan surprised us all with landing the sauce squirt from so wide and 22-14 was the score. Not long after the replacements started to filter out and our stronger bench started to outmuscle theirs, not the least in the scrum which saw the Red Men marching relentlessly up-field time and time again, regardless of who was feeding, much to the raucous enjoyment of an engaged crowd who were chanting for more at every opportunity. Eventually, despite the Hunters lads pinching another pie, the weight of the scrum abuse told and Sione posted his 2nd pie of the day after yet another all-dominating scrum ate the metres, broke the Hunters spirits and paved the way. 29-21. To their credit, Hunters kept fighting all the way through to the final whistle, throwing everything they had at the Red Burkies. But the Reddies held strong with the 8pt buffer and were on the way to seeing the day out for a fine win when, in what could only be described as a desperate move, the Hunters 10 threw a late, ill-considered pass that was picked off by Liam Corry who then streaked the length of the field to post the final pie and send the crowd fairly bananas with the 36-21 win.
Thus Mick didn’t have a heart attack and the Mighty Red Burkies go to the Big Dance this coming week, to face the Woollahra Colleagues in the 2nd Grade Grand Final.
And so she goes. One team among the Mighty Double D’s remain standing: the Burke Cup “Red Burkies”. So grab your hat, pack your swag, bring your wallet and pull-on your drinking boots as we do-convene at Concord Oval next Saturday 2nd September for a 1:20pm kickoff as the Red Burkies step forward to meet Colleagues of Woollahra for the 2023 iteration of the Sydney Suburban Rugby, Division One, 2nd Grade Burke Cup Grand Final.
Get on the ready line, Red Men!
For the other rounds