2024 Club Update – Round 04

Hola mis amigos,

Welcome to the wrap-up of Round 4 2024, wherein we met our friends from over Bondi way, the Waverley Waves, on a cold and blustery day by the shores of Canada Bay. By way of results, it’s best I just call it like it was and say out-loud that we got our backsides handed to us across the board and so gave up a whitewash (or dare I say a “blue rinse”) day to Waverley. Yes, some matches were more competitive than others. And some may not appreciate me being so forthright about the results. But at the end of it all, the multi-grade table-topping blue and gold juggernaut came to Drummoyne, rolled over us and went home again, leaving we the DDR to lick our wounds and gird our loins for Round 5 and Lindfield away at Soldier Field.

It is noteworthy that we haven’t played Lindfield in Division 1 since 2011. And our Rd2 meeting that year was marred by some disgraceful Lindfieldian behaviours on Drummoyne Oval that somehow then had a handful of us visiting the judiciary, including me, and a select few within that group then having a spell on the sideline. But that’s a story for another day. And I’m sure such misunderstandings won’t be repeated this year (although how anyone misunderstands being bitten is a misunderstanding as lost on me as how pitch invaders attacking a venerable strapper is somehow justified). So don’t believe any malicious rumours that say that I’ve waiting 13 bloody years for this coming weekend. Such an accusation would be as unfounded as it would be unreasonable to think that an educated gentleman as balanced and detached as I would dwell on such things over such a period of time. No. Of course not. Don’t be silly.

So here it is, a review of Saturday 18 May 2024 wherein on Livin’ Day, the mighty DDR put out 6 men’s grades and 1 Colts team to meet the Waverley Waves. And within that also lies a look forward to Rd5 whereon that same DDR will contend with Lindfield: an opponent over a decade absent our sight, but one that has not ever left our sights.

6th Grade (Old Boys) – Lost 21-5
I have to say that, despite the loss, this was one of the more enjoyable games of rugby I’ve played for some time. There were some great players on that field, on both sides, and it was a pleasure to run among them for a spell again, even if the scrums were uncontested. In terms of the match itself, it was a remarkably tight affair for most of the match, characterised by surprisingly good ball handling and a general bonhomie between opponents, despite some absolutely clatteringly solid defence at times. To that end, it was almost as if some sort of rugby Valhalla had momentarily materialised, with numerous seamless interactions of ball movement and continuity, to the extent that, far from witnessing a composite of never-was and has-beens embarrassing themselves, those that witnessed the affair were at times befuddled by a level of imbued rugby literacy so displayed as to make the game seemingly appear more akin to a version of heaven somewhere else. Whatever. We lost. An unsauced pie to Trev “Mr Ageless” Rangel was over-powered by 3 sauced pies by the Blue Waves. But it was fun. And it was good to see a few of the older lads, from glories and days past, getting out and about and putting stitches in the jersey one more time.

3 pts to Jack Barrett, 2 points to Tommy Doyle, 1 to Corey Luyten.

Sutherland Cup (5th grade) – Lost 17-7
The Breakfast Club came into Saturday as 5th on-ladder with 3pts, ahead of Forest, Mosman and Lindfield, whilst the Waves arrived as 2 from 2 on maximum 10pts. Thus a tight game was expected. And that’s pretty much what we got. But all that said, the song was similar to 6ths in that, whilst Oli Edwards replied to the Waves first pie by bagging a pie of his own, which Luke ‘Evergreen’ Jones duly sauced, the Waverley lads pinched another two pies and one sauce to skip away with the match by 17-7.

3 points to Oliver Edwards, 2 to Oscar Sobb and 1 to Matty Nicholls.

With 2 losses and 1 draw to show from 3 games, the Red Brekky Club have amassed 3pts, which is enough to keep clear of Mosman on the bottom of the table at 0 from 2 with 0pts. But that’s hardly inspirational now is it? This weekend, the lads will joust with the 1 win from 2 starts Lindfield who sit on a lofty 5pts at 4th on table. So opportunity awaits to grab 5pts and go careening past, should our Breakfast Club so choose to.

Judd Cup (4th grade) – Lost 22-10
Remarkably, with two draws and a loss, the Red Juddites somehow sat 5th on table with 5pts leading into Saturday. Against that, the Waverley Waves sat a-top the Judd table with 2 from 2 and 9pts, but with a game in-hand. Thus the Red Juddites were ‘up against it’ and knew it. But the squad had trained well, had a good smattering of youth and experience, and were keen for the hit-out against the competition best.

Comments from Supercoach Stu were that a ‘feisty fourths’ approached the game in good spirits, hoping to ramp up their 2024 campaign. However it was Waverley’s cohesion and familiarity that taught some lessons as they quickly grabbed 2 tries to set up an early 10-0 lead. That said, the Red Men weren’t bereft as they put up an impressive effort with some well-structured play to worry the Bondi Heights Boys at times. Such coherent, structured set pieces ensured Dave Fraser was on the receiving end of a scrum dash and pass from the ever-youthful Richard Jobson. And so whilst this wasn’t 2010, Dave did nonetheless streak away to score a handy pie in the corner. But two more pies in reply put Waverley beyond reach even if Filippe Labalaba did jag a pie back for the good guys with a classic Fijian ruck ‘pick and sprint’ in the closing stages.

3 points went to Oscar Lee, 2 points went to Tim Balshaw and someone saw fit to give 1 point to some old fella last seen wandering from scrum to scrum with a whiskey bottle shoved in his shorts.

With 2 draws and 2 losses to show from 4 starts, the Red JugHeads have 5pts which, as with 5ths, is enough to hold 2nd last spot on-table, ahead of the 1 from 3 Mosman on 4pts, whilst Waverley continue to top the table. Across the chalk, Lindfield have every right to be confident leading into this weekends contention given they are 2 wins from 3 starts on 9pts. But the Rugby Gods are nothing if not fickle buggers, who rarely reward those who deserve it. One solid win and the Red Juddites are fair back in the mix again. So the die is cast for a titanic struggle to unfold whereon the Red Jugheads do take the field this approaching weekend. The only question is: for whom will this bell toll?

Whiddon Cup (3rds) – Lost 24-7
Coming into the weekend with three matches played for one result of each kind, the Red Widows were 3rd on the ladder, tied with the Blue Goats on 7pts. Comparatively the Waverley lads, who were our Whiddonian nemesis last year, were ensconced in 1st spot, with two from two for ten points and still with a game in-hand. So the Blue Waves approached the weekend as undisputed Whiddon Cup pace-setters. Thus, as with the grades below, the ask was always going to be a big one from the Red Widows, but into the breach they did foray.

Comments from Supercoach Scully were that the Thirsties rose to the challenge and put in likely the most convincing opening 30 minutes of play seen across the past 2 seasons. Both forwards and backs were near flawless in taking the game plan to the now two-year undefeated premiers, leaving the Waves somewhat shocked and visibly frustrated. As such, given a highly contentious ‘no try’ ruling on halftime, the 7-0 lead to Red was good to see, but was acknowledged in the huddle as not being enough on which to rest, given the calibre of the opponents. And so it was, as even the elements themselves seemed to conspire to bring the Waves back into the game post oranges. The lift in wind allowed the Waves to employ a smart tactical kicking game and all-but weld the Red Men into their own quarter for much of the 2nd stanza. And an unfortunate try scored while a man down in the defensive line (Michael Thompson being treated), heralded a Waverley point-scoring resurgence. A veritable wave of scrums and resets prevented the Reds from both exiting their half and playing with any freedom, and what little open play their was seemed to consist of Waverley placing our line under increasing pressure. That said, the positive that did come from the first half well demonstrated that the Red Men can beat the Waverley lads once we gel some players and combinations.

Points went as 3 to Kieran Craven, 2pts to Joe ‘The Hair’ Colley and 1pt split between Tiger and Nick Scully.

The loss puts the Red Widows at 6th on the table with 1 win, 1 draw and 2 losses for 4 starts and 7pts, whilst the Waves continue on their merry way at 3 from 3. As for this weekends antagonists, they sit one spot above the Red Widows in 5th spot with 1 of each from their 3 starts. As such, Saturday will see a veritable clash of the les enfant terrible as each tries to differentiate itself from the other and consolidate a spot mid-table to then begin a tilt higher up. Both sides will be determined, but which will have the minerals to see it through?

Barbour Cup (Colts) – Lost 15-12
Last Saturday morning saw the Red Barbourians with 2 wins from 3 starts but no bonus points, and so 3rd on table with 8pts. Against that, the Waverley lads seemed in all sorts of trouble, appealing to go with uncontested scrums, apparently struggling with numbers, and asking all sorts of concessions of the Red Men prior to the match. And what gamesmanship that all turned out to be.

Comments from Supercoach Rowdy were that the uncontested scrums clearly impacted the lads continuity and flow. As such the Red Colties play was discombobulated and lacked any cohesion. Accordingly, the Red Barbourians were ‘lucky’ to have any possession and territory in the first half, even with a strong breeze in their favour. The lead changed and chopped throughout the game, in-keeping with many a Colts affair. But ultimately the Red lads just ran out of time to overcome their disjointed and clearly frustrated play.

Points went to Jordan Lancaster (1) who stepped into 10 after Tom Lacey came off injured, Ned Greenwell (2) who was everywhere, and Nick Baksa (3) who hit the ball up hard all day.

Such a frustrating loss sees the Red Barbourians tumble from 3rd to 5th spot with 2 wins & 2 losses from 4 starts. Against that, the blue & white stripes of Lindfield are stone, motherless last on 0 from 3 and 1pt. So a good thrashing is in the wind. But desperation can drive animals to amazing acts, so I would caution our Red Barbourians to approach this weekend with scant of anything remotely cavalier or overly-confident. But rather, see this for the opportunity it is – a chance to execute play ruthlessly and lay down a proper performance corner stone from which to build the rest of the season.

Burke Cup (2nds) – Lost 28-3
The Red Burkies approached Saturday as 4th on ladder after the wet weather weekend. However the team clearly felt some frustration at that, knowing that their side had significant experience & ability within it and, ably piloted by Supercoach Woz, was definitely keen to maintain their focus against the hitherto table-topping Waverley as they took the field on Saturday afternoon. Frankly, the lads seemed primed for a good showing. But the looks proved to be more than a bit deceiving.

Comments from Supercoach Woz were that the Red Burkies came into the match confident and fielding their strongest team of the early season so-far against highly regarded Waverley. Accordingly the lads ripped into the opening stanza with the same form as shown recently against Hunters Hill and Blue Mountains, with Drummoyne dominating almost every aspect of play by simply nailing the game plan. But then a combination of over-exuberance and perhaps anxiety came into play as the home side conceded no less than three intercept tries from attacking play, gifting 21 points to the visitors and effectively shooting ourselves in the boot. Perhaps it was a desire to put the game away while holding the advantage of the stiff breeze. Or perhaps some uncertainty developed around new-found combinations. But either way, the lads ‘did it to themselves’. The team battled away mightily after those errors before the whistle eventually called time. But ultimately it was a frustrating loss given we had shown some of what we could do before we just gave it away. Supercoach did note though that there were lots of good performances despite the carnage, with points going to Kisa, Mack Long and the rampaging Sione Jr.

All things have a price in life. And the price of last weeks loss was to slide from 4th to 5th , now being with 1 win from 4 starts on 6pts. Therefore Forest reside in 4th instead, whilst Waverley continue their unbroken run on top. More immediately, Lindfield sit in 6th with 1 win from 3 starts and 4pts. So a win doth beckon. But it is time for our Red Burkies to put aside potential and promise, and instead focus on the delivering bit. The path of the mighty is paved with those who had potential. So let’s get over it and get on with it lads.

Kentwell Cup (1sts) – Lost 13-9
The loss to Blue Mountains the previous outing had left the lads in what seemed a restless mood as it was clear the Red Kenty’s felt they had more in them than they displayed against the Blue Goats. As such, Supercoach Mick was adamant that the Red Kenty’s would hold their heads high going into the match-up with another table front-runner in Waverley, and put in a progressively better performance. Alas, it was not to be.

Comments from Supercoach Mich and Super-correspondent Ken was that, whilst disappointed with a loss that so easily could have been otherwise, a bonus point is till a bonus point. Both pundits noted that, in cold and deteriorating conditions, the Waverley lads were very well drilled, disciplined and were strong in defence, but then so we. Waverley used their first half breeze well, slotting a penalty and a sauced pie throughout the first stanza, and if not for the tenacious defence of the likes of Lachlin (LJ) Lackson at fullback, Visesio (Junior) Amituanai in the centres and Liam Doyle, the score could have blown out. As it was, Benny ‘Superboots’ Halmarick pulled a penalty back and it was 10-3 at oranges.

The mood at halftime was cautiously positive. The lads had weathered the weather and the Waves best efforts, and so were confident that with their turn for the wind advantage, they would bring the game home. But then the weather calmed. Bugger.

Despite the loss of Zeus favour, the Dirty Reds were the better team of the second stanza, applying constant pressure and with Simeli (Max) Salabogi terrorising the defence. It seemed but a matter of time and a sticking pass until the DDR would break away. But it was not to be be. Ben Halmarick kicked another 2 penalty goals, but the Waverley defence held strong and a late penalty to them sealed the match. Strong scrummaging, an improved lineout and bone crunching defence was the order of the day for the Reds but in the end, it just didn’t end our way.

Waverley have advised that their player who suffered a terrible leg injury, underwent surgery that night and is now in recovery.

Points were as follows: 3pts to Ben Austin, 2pts to Max and 1pt to LJ.

Being the most successful team in the Red fold as of this moment with 2 wins from 4 starts and so 9pts, the Red Kenty’s now sit 4th on table. Conversely, Lindfield sit 2nd bottom with 0 from 3 for 2pts, ahead only of Colleagues on zero. So again, a good win is in the offering this weekend for those brave and organised enough to take it by the throat. But are we such? Are we prepared to do what must be done, in the manner with which we must do it, to put out a display of confident, robust, well-structured rugby and rack up the sort of score we should? Or will nerves and a lack of focus undo good intent? Such we will discover this weekend.

So there it is folks. I apologise if my manner seems cavalier or unkind, for I mean no offence. But I would do a disservice to the club and history itself if I did not record the weekend in the manner in-which it unfolded: blunt, cruel at times, and jarringly uncomfortable. We were blue-rinsed with 7 losses for 7 starts. There is no hiding from that. So congratulations to Waverley. But that said, in the words of my old dad, “What’s done is done, Boy. All we can change is what happens next.” Thus we do turn our eyes and front tires almost directly north, and sally forth to take on Lindfield at their home of Soldiers Field, on the corner of Tyrone and Archbold Roads. It is no secret that Lindfield are having a bit of a struggle year across all the grades. But so are we. So the lines are set and the stakes are high. As I noted earlier, it has been better than a dozen years since we made this trip to leafy Lindfield. And whilst we make this trip in the spirit of rugby, I do confess it’s a trip I’ve been waiting to make again for some time. Perhaps the Rugby Gods do sometimes reward the deserved.

Boire le vin.