I Write this piece high on emotion, and full of Rammer Pride. I have just witnessed one of the Best Camden Performance’s in recent times from its premiere Grade.
Visiting the undefeated Shamrocks on their own turf is no easy feat, given the calibre of players that were out for Camden, it made the Mountainous task even more difficult to climb.
With regular 1ST grade stars Gavin Holder, Mark Nightingale & Johnny MauMau all unavailable for various reasons, Camden visited short on fire power, but not in belief and determination.
Camden 1st XV
With the smell of crisp new jerseys, and a healthy number of travelling fans on hand the Rammers 1st XV were simply brilliant.
Led well by what can be described as a true Captains Knock by Lee “Axe” Russell, the team was efficient, dominant and courageous in the eye of a green storm.
The Camden Pack was led upfront by Dane Russell and David Gleeson, who are now known as the old war heads of a young budding pack. Andrew Black played to a stand still, but that is no surprise, as you know what to expect of such a player every time he takes to the field for Camden.
The starting Debutant Jarryd Kelly, simply looked brilliant, showing some scintillating pace and great positional awareness eliminating Shamrocks outside back’s, as he Tyler Aitken and Andrew Brown worked together to snuff out half opportunities when they presented themselves.
The game was a see saw event that saw Camden take the lead at half time through 4 penalty kicks, by their Maverick Fly half Rhys Millar to lead 12-10.
The second half came to life when Tyler Aitken put a grubber in behind the defence, regathered and drew the Full back to put Andrew Brown in to space and over the line. The score converted again by Millar. Shamrocks however hit back with a try of their own to make the scores 19-15 with just under 15 mins remaining. A penalty to Camden, converted once again by Maverick Millar saw Camden skip out to a 7 point lead with a little over 5 minutes remaining.
Camden defended stoutly for the 5 mins as Shamrocks threw all including the kitchen sink at an impenetrable Force that was the Camden Rams. As the game sunk into extra time, a blatant knock on was missed, and an undeserved ensuing penalty was awarded. With no time left Shamrocks took a tap and spread the ball out wide. The Rams had their backs to the wall, as they now were truly under the pump. Led well in defence by Their Captain the attitude was there, belief and determination not to give in.
Best summed up by Jim Berry who out on his haunches made a last ditching tackle to stop an overlap from being created. Shamrocks however kept the ball, and as light faded, and the brunt of 80+minutes of body War took its toll, the crack finally appeared and Shamrocks crashed over in the corner.
The successful kick and FT result being a 22 all draw and the reaction from the players left myself and others in no doubt these 2 teams will once again figure prominently at the end of the year, jostling for finals positions.
Great Captains knock by the Axe, hard luck to Maverick Millar who seems set for a stint on the sidelines after injuring his shoulder in the final play of the game. Special mentions to all the Premier XV standout performance as a unit.
The second XV have been the form team of the Club, with some great Football being brandied around by the team. Led By 300 gamer Matt Searle and young Captain Brady Millar the team looked set to register 5 wins on the trot and announce to the Illawarra their intentions to take this competition by the neck and leave the rest in their wake.
However reality hit home. The Structure which Camden XV pride themselves on went astray in the first half, but it was clear to see that Shamrocks struggled to find any holes in a tough Defence. With almost 90% (self imposed statistics) of the ball in the first half Shamrocks managed only 1 try and 2 Penalties.
Its a testament to Camden that with an even share of possession in the second half they kept Shamrocks scoreless and scored a try themselves. With only handling errors letting them down from stealing an unlikely victory, final score 5-13.
Strong Performers were Brady Millar, Matt Searle and Shane Martin.
Coming into the Game, Camden were 1 and 3, and struggling for form. After hearing during the week that Captain John Nettle was out with a burst appendix it was left to a few other old heads and the energy of the up and coming Rammers to try and pull out a victory in what is a graveyard for many under strength teams that visit Shamrocks.
However from kickoff, to the FT whistle it was evident the season so early on was hanging in the balance for Camden. It was a measuring stick, a litmus test to see whether we could mix it with another strong force in the competition, a resounding Victory of 22-7 was anything but comfortable, but the experience in playing one of the hardest road games in the competition for the young Rammers will be an invaluable learning curb.
MOTM was Owen Everett, who has pretty much made himself a home at the side of the scrum and is fast turning into becoming another handy Camden Footballer.
New boy Danny Halse was a strong contributor as well as Andy Prisoner of Her majesty, who made a welcome return from injury lay offs in 3rd grade.
Camden travel to Vikings with great confidence, and are hoping to see more of you rammers down at Viking Park for another instalment of cracking Rugby.
Camden are slowly turning the corner, and with great expectations comes great responsibilities. Its up to the players to stand tall, and whether the eye of the storm to ensure we see a brighter future.