2024 Club Update – Round 02

Konnichiwa Cobbers and welcome to the Round 2 review and Round 3 preview for season 2024.

The weekend just gone saw the D.Reds pack swags and trek a whole 15 minutes to the north west to then spend 30 minutes trying to find a park in the heartland of leafy Hunters Hill in order to renew acquaintances with the Facta Non Verba black & whites. And a mixed bag of results it turned out to be on a deceptively hot and stultifying day. So without further ado…

Sutherland Cup (5th grade) Drew 19-19 

I must say it always warms the cockles of my heart to see the Breakfast Club out and about on a Saturday morning. Some of my most treasured games for this club have been in the early morning fog and glare. And Saturday-gone was no exception as a brave band of hearty souls took to the field after chasing the little kids and their middle-harbour active-wear mums off it. Added to the group of newbies and part-timers, it must be said it was great to see a few older names and familiar faces on the roster including the miscreant likes of Ben ‘I’m here!’ Sykes and Craig ‘Yeh all good’ Henderson along with others of ill-repute. And as such, with a fair collection of age and experience to balance out the youth and enthusiasm, the Ref blew his pea and we set about the days festivities.

The match initially looked like being quite an outing for the Red Brekky Crew with two pies snatched and Luke Jones squirting sauce about exuberantly. However three pies to the Hunters, two with sauce, punctuated by a mutual exchange of cards du fromage, gave the lead back to the black and whites with full time closing in. Thus it fell to Jack Barrett, taking example from his Locking cousin Scott Barrett the previous evening, to battle away and find the chalk, and then Luke Jones to squirt the sauce in the right direction, to send the game to the final pea with the unlikely score of 19 a-piece.

So in the end it was 3 tries and 2 conversions a-piece, along with a high-tackle yellow card or two thrown in for good measure. Thus it was probably a fair enough outcome to a fair enough game. The two points result see the Red Breakfast Club as 4th on a table of 8, with next weeks opponents Blue Mountains 0 from 2 and champing at the bit in 5th spot. I don’t know if we have a travelling side as yet and so keep an eye on social media for details.

Judd Cup (4th grade) Lost 21-14

The previous weeks draw against Colleagues saw the Juddites at 4th on the ladder, whilst Hunters Hill were in 6th following their loss to Blueys. As such the match was shaping as an important early-season opportunity for both teams to establish some continuity and rhythm. However a painful first half punctuated by an ever-sounding Referee pea for high-tackle penalties, gave the Hunters lads too much ball and field position for the Red Juddites to withstand. And frankly it was something of a relief to only go to oranges at 3 pies to nowt down. The 2nd half saw the Red Men reverse the situation of the 1st half and force their way back into the struggle with two pies of their own, firstly to Fraser Lamont and then to Tom Hall, with Yanek “I’m early” Fochesato squirting the sauce for both. But rotations, fatigue and unfamiliarity took their toll with the nett impact being the D.Reds lads could not seem to find that last bit of cohesion needed to seal the deal. And so that’s the way it went, posting a two pies and sauce to three pies and sauce loss.

Comments from Supercoach Heller were that with Hunters dominating everything and posting their 3 pies to blot lead early on, a whitewash was looking a distinct possibility. And at oranges, while the Red lads were finally showing signs of stopping the Hunters momentum, it was a tired and ‘head down’ group that stopped to swallow seagulls and look for their composure. Fitness was clearly going to be a factor. But pleasingly, going back into the second half, the Backs refocussed on attacking the 13 channel and the Forwards were clear on identifying holes on which to target their pods. Accordingly, as the game progressed, the momentum shifted back to the Reds. Thus with momentum and pill, the Red Juddites promptly started clawing back the lead, but simply ran out of time to finish the job they had made unnecessarily hard for themselves via such a poor opening. That said, Supercoach was clearly enthused about the squad doing a ‘fantastic job’ to keep their heads up and stay in the game despite the early-game momentum being so heavily against them.

Points went as 1pt to Fraser Lamont, 2pts to Jack ‘Johnnie’ Walker and 3pts to Tom ‘Ben’ Hall whose late game try was apt reward for his hard work.

The Red Juddites loss leaves them 7th on table on 3pts. Given this week’s opponents Blueys also lost to Colleagues 18-10, that leaves them at 4th on 4pts. So whilst they sit at opposite ends of the table, only 1pt separates the two sides leading into this weeks away fixture up at sunny and salubrious Lapstone Oval. So buckle up and brace yourself for what’s coming as the chaff looks to separate from the hay.

Whiddon Cup (3rds) Lost 24-15

Coming off last week’s win, the 2nd placed Red Widows were keen to hit the ground running, and lay down a marker built on mobile, dominating and physically robust play over the Hunters lads, who were languishing at 2nd last on table after their whacking from Blueys. Alas, in a disappointing continuance of club form on the day so far, and 3rds form against Hunters Hill in recent times, it was not to be.

For the game itself, Hunters skipped out to a 2 pies and sauce to zilch lead, before unsauced pies to Callum Boland and Tiger Parker made it a contest again. However Hunters posted another pie and sauce and despite 2 late servings of cheese to the black and whites, a final Hunters penalty goal put too much gap on the scoreboard for the Red Widows to overcome, despite Jope’s unsauced pie late in the day. Comments from Supercoach Shane was that the day’s efforts and play were below the standard expected and it is better to be honest about such things and not make excuses. Disruption, late arrivals, early injuries, soft efforts and general lethargy all took its toll and the performance was ‘just not there’. That said, there were some remarkable performances on the day with Thommo racking up his 6th game of rugby in one week after playing for Army at their rugby festival, and Kieran Craven stood tall after also playing in the 5ths and 4ths fixtures beforehand. As Supercoach Shane commented later, it must be said that Thommo and KC’s efforts, juxtaposed against the general energy level of the group, were really worthy of acknowledgement. Points were awarded as 3pts to Kieran Craven for his efforts both in 3rds and across the day, 2pts went to Jope ‘On time’ Naitasi, and 1pt to Tom ‘lightening’ Sidgreaves at halfback.

The loss sees Drummoyne at 4th on table on 1 for 2 and 5pts. This weeks opponents Blueys also lost 16-12, and so are also 1 for 2 with 5pts, but they sit a deceptive 2nd on table, ranked higher due to better points differential. So the table is tight and the stage is set for a big day out at Lapstone this coming weekend.

Barbour Cup (Colts) Lost 29-7

The Colts fixture saw 1st play 4th as both sides came out of last weeks rounds with wins under their belts and tails held high. However about there was where the similarities ended as the day continued in its already established pattern with the Red Men posting a disappointing result.

In terms of the match flow, despite and early cheese served to Hunters, the black & white lads skipped out to an early and uncatchable lead, racking up 5 pies, only being interrupted by two conversion squirts and another two cheese-cards, one served each way. Thus it was 29-0 and 2 cheeses to 1 before the Red Men troubled the score-board with a pie to Charlie Kelso topped by a sauce squirt from Nick Long late in the game. Comments from Supercoach Rowdy were that, the scoreboard aside, Hunters are again clearly a benchmark side of the competition, and against their clear physical advantages, the Red Barbourians fought hard. He was pleased the lads didn’t give up, demonstrated by the try late in the game in circumstances where many other Colts sides of previous years would have thrown in the towel. As such, the lads have now seen what ‘good’ looks like in this competition and so look forward to ‘having another crack at them’ in the return fixture.

Points went to Lachlan Findlay (3) who was the everywhere man, Nick Baksa (2) who threw his body around all game with scarce awareness for his health, and Josh Rhodes (1) who showed some great aggression in both attack and defence. Thoughts are also with Ned Greenwell who is recovering from concussion after finding that the cricket pitch is a little harder than his head.

The Blue Mountains Colts went down on Saturday as well, to Colleagues by 19-15. And thus it’s bottom of table Bluey’s at 0 from 2 on 1pt versus the Red Barbourians at 1 from 2 on 4pts this coming weekend. So the odds look good for the Reds to claw into mid table. However Bluey’s at home, with their parochial crowd, interesting Refereeing outcomes, and that little pitch, have been a stumbling block for plenty of Red Colts teams in past years. So it’s ‘heads screwed on’ with a focus on keeping 15 on the park for the Colties this weekend as they chase another needed win.

Burke Cup (2nds) Drew 19-19

Yep, you read that correctly as a 19-all draw, again. After seemingly having the match under control and there for the taking, the 7th placed Red Burkies spilt their lollies as the 4th placed Hunters lads pinched one last pie to tie the score at a repeat of 5th grades. Thankfully (?!?) their otherwise reliable kicker then squirted the sauce onto the post, and so the match ended an unlikely score of 19 a-piece.

Comments from Supercoach Woz were that, after the disappointment of Rd1, the team wanted to make a statement from the opening blast of the pea to Hunters Hill with combative defence, committed running and a spirit of trust and support not seen seven days earlier. And the Red Burkies delivered. Highlights were the superb scrum, led by bookends Tom Warr and CV, and the crowd-pleasing kick-returns of back three Jimmy, Kisa and Big Max. Supercoach Woz continued with lyrical enthusiasm to point out that, in due reward for the efforts displayed throughout the match, the Red Burkies took a deserved lead late in game when Captain Fantastic Cory Griffin box-kicked into space for tireless flanker James ‘Terminator’ Leong to secure the loose pill and put flying Hooker and player of the day Jordan Dehaarte over for the likely matchwinner. But the whistle blower, who may not have had his best game, was determined to add his own further twist to the day, and so after a series of baffling applications of Law 6.5.A (sole judge of fact and score), the Hunters side scored in the corner after what could only be described as the Marianas Trench of extra time (so deep it was scary). Quite likely in disgust, the Rugby Gods intervened to push the black & whites conversion attempt into the upright, and thus the contest ended 19 a-piece.

Points went as follows: Jordan Dehaarte (3), Simeli Salabogi (1), Alkisa Caginitoba (1), James Leong (1).

While the result shot Hunters up to 3rd, Colleagues continued on their merry way by defeating Bluey’s. So now our 6th placed Red Burkies, with 0.5 from 2 on 2pts, must contend this upcoming weekend with 7th placed Bluey’s who are also on 2pts, curtesy of 2 bonus points despite their 2 losses. As such, it will be an intriguing encounter in the lengthening shadows of Lapstone Oval this coming weekend, to see who can arise from the mire and begin climbing up the table. The 5pts on offer this weekend may prove crucial as the season grinds on.

Kentwell Cup (1sts) Won 27-21

Coming into the day at 4th on ladder at 1 from 1 on 4pts, the Red Kentwellians were carrying the hopes of the club on their shoulders as they lined up against our friendly neighbours. And it must be said that most recognised they were about to watch an almighty contest given both our respective clubs opinions and history as regards the other, coupled with the Hunters lads surly smarting after losing their Grand Final rematch to Bluey’s the weekend before. And so with the stage well set, the whistle did blow and the feathers did fly as neighbour met neighbour head on at Boronia Park.

Comments from Supercoach Mick was that the game between perennial foes showcased a solid start, with impressive early interchange play from both forwards and backs, signalling a quality game to come. Both sides demonstrated exceptional teamwork and coordination, setting the stage for an intense and captivating match to unfold. However from the outset the Red Men appeared to have the edge where required and whilst the Red scrum and lineout performances were noteworthy as dominant forces, it was the massive DDR defensive effort, sustained throughout the game, that ultimately secured the victory. Supercoach continued to espouse that among a few standout features of the game, Ben Austin’s debut was a highlight. He delivered a cracking performance, seamlessly integrating into the team and showcasing his skills. Additionally, Ben Faavae’s commendable display of strength resulted in two solid tries, demonstrating a relentless determination and a motor to match. And further, Riley Alcorn deserves mention for powerful carries near the line which led to an exceptional first try of his season and setting the tone for an exhilarating game.

Post oranges, the formidable battle continued unabated, with both sides demonstrating unwavering determination in the fray. Hunters were not going away, posting tries either side of the break, but the Red Men unwavering commitment was showing through. So while the Red Kenty’s couldn’t secure the fourth try bonus point, Ben Halmarick’s successful two penalties put some space on the scoreboard and the lads continued to maintain composure and deliver a resilient performance until the final whistle, much to the relief of all not wearing black & white.

Points were awarded as 3 to Peter Taylor, 2 to Ben Halmarick, and 1 to Callum Richardson.

Looking to next weekend, I note the Blue Goats have continued their winning start to the year, downing Colleagues 31-3 at the Woollahra sandpit. Thus they sit a-top the Kentwell table at 2 from 2 plus 2 bonus points to be 10pts, ahead of 2nd placed Mosman by only points differential. Comparatively our Red Kentwellians meet them also as 2 from 2 contenders, but without the bonus points, thus in 3rd spot. So defence will be high on the Red agenda this week as the Blue Goats can clearly score points. And alongside that, some smoothing of creases in attack will be sure the opportunities we do get are fully exploited. Brace yourselves folks, because this is shaping to be one hell of a match at Lapstone oval on Saturday afternoon as the dusk gathers and the temperature drops.

So that’s that for Round 2 of 2024 my friends. Two draws to Breakfast Club and Burkies, losses to Juddites and Widows, and a “Thank Christ for that” win to a gallant Kentwellian outfit that salvaged what would otherwise have been an ugly day for the Red Men at Boronia Park.

Accordingly, all eyes now turn to Round 3 and the Blue Goats, ensconced at the foothills of the Blue Mountains at Lapstone Oval. For those that don’t know it, Lapstone is just the other side of the physical and spiritual divide that is the Victoria bridge, at the western end of the M4, crossing the Nepean river which separates Sydney from the worlds largest listed Heritage wilderness area. When you cross that bridge, you leave Sydney behind and enter a place that time forgot. And it will do strange things to you. It will make you forget your boots, drop your coffee, take the wrong bag and generally lose your shite if you’re not bright eyed and bushy tailed in your preparations. So whilst city folk like to deride the place as “Penriff Heights” and make jokes about missing teeth and lop-sided finger counts, Lapstone Oval has been a graveyard for many city-sides over many years for the unwary and unprepared. And the locals know it and play up on it. So brace yourself accordingly. And to make it even better, there looks to be rain and cool temperatures on the way. So the Gods are shaping to favour the Blue Goats from the foot of the mountains.

So pack your bag Friday night, check it twice, and leave it in front of your door, ready to roll on Saturday morning. And be sure to bring your jacket with your vocal chords for the busses, as the Red Men load their wagons and trek west-bound to “get it on” with the Blue Goats.

And a word of advice: if you turn your car into the little netball parking area on the south side of the Explorers Road field, rather than trying to jamb in with everyone else at the tennis court end, you will find parking extends right around the back of the oval. So you can park down the back and scoot up through the scrub. Thus you don’t have to cart your kit so far to ‘our’ side of the ground.

Boire le vin.