Mixed Day At Country Championships For Illawarra Women and Colts

Both the Illawarra Womens and Colts squads had mixed fortunes on the first day of the NSW Country Championships in Tamworth. Both groups finished the day with a win and a loss and will both be playing off for third spot on the final day of the tournament on Sunday.

The Colts opened the days play in a match against Mid North Coast and completely outplayed the northerners running in eight tries in a resounding 54 – 5 result. No. 8 Harvey Austin was outstanding in every aspect of the match scoring four tries including a kick and chase try showing great pace for a forward. Wingman Blake Gurney also had an eye catching performance running in two tries and involving himself in a busy workload. Opeti Taufahema and center Kyle Wasson also contributed strongly.

The Colts second match brought them up against a strong Newcastle Hunter side that proved a much tougher opponent than The Axemen. Newcastle got off to a big start scoring a try from a rolling maul for an early 5 – nil lead but the young Illawarriors stuck to the task managing to take an 11 – 5 lead to the break. Behind 5 – 3 as the final seconds ticked down on the clock wingman Gurney took an intercept after a scrum win by Newcastle deep in the Illawarra quarter. Gurney charged up field and when circled by defenders kicked ahead into the Newcastle quarter. After a scramble for the ball Gurney regained possession and scored a smart try in the left corner for the Illawarriors to have the lead 11 – 5 at the break.  

In a tightly contested second term Illawarra produced an outstanding defensive effort and were clinging to their half-time lead when very cruelly one minute from the final bell Newcastle scored a converted try to steal the match 12 – 11. A shattered group will now go on to the third place play off at 8.00AM Sunday.  

The Lady Illawarriors came to the carnival with significant personnel problems due to player unavailability’s from injury and other difficulties. With the side struggling to field an experienced backline several players were forced to play out of position. Their first match was a real contest against Central North. In a dour match the girls scored two tries to one to take the game 12 – 0. The second brought them up against a strong fluent Central West side. The western girls played a fast paced attacking game which the Illawarra side couldn’t match going down decisively 22 – 0. Strong performances for Illawarra came from Flanker Malama Leatigaga, Fly-Half Melinda Dunn, Center Chantelle Leatigaga and spirited Captain, Flanker Sandra Laughlin.