Illawarriors Fall To Far North Coast

By Ron Wood

A jubilant Far North Coast side will make an appearance in the Caldwell Cup decider after a fightback 24 - 19 victory over the Illawarriors in Tamworth. The Illawarriors raced to an early 19 – 0 lead on the back of some outstanding attacking play from Eli Sinoti who carried on his strong form from the sides morning match.

Sinoti mesmerized Hunter in the first match of the day to set up the Illawarriors 21 – 15 win over the old foe. The Illawarriors started strongly in the second match creating an early lead with three tries in the first eight minutes of their second match with Far North Coast but couldn’t maintain their form through the second term with handling errors and penalties handing a huge possession advantage to the North Coast side.

Taking full advantage of the extra possession the Northerners put on 17 points in the last fifteen minutes of the match to pip the Illawarriors and qualify for the Caldwell Cup Final. The heavy workload from the days effort for both sides took its toll as both camps rotated players late in the match but it was Far North Coast who weathered the workload the best to prevail. In a hard fought match each side scored three tries with the Coast side’s kickers more accurate to see their side home.

Both matches on the day were tight contests with equal numbers of tries scored. Illawarrior Fly-Half Teava Terangi was prominent against Hunter having a hand in both the teams tries. He firstly put in a deft kick for winger Leti David Tupai to regather and score and then combined with Sinoti to set up Tonga Junior-Tongo for the second. Best for Illawarra in this match along with Sinoti were Terangi and Flankers Dane Nethery and skipper Jack Parsons.

The Illawarriors put on three tries in the first eight minutes against Far North Coast. Sinoti produced a solo effort for the first beating four defenders to score from thirty out. Exciting fullback Aisake Tuevu set up center Brayden Grehan for a try and then scored himself from a kick and chase for the 19 – 0 lead. Just prior to the break Far North Coast scored after some sloppy play by both sides to get back in the match at the break with a 19 – 7 scoreline.

The second term belonged to the Northerners as Illawarra made far too many errors and gave away too many penalties to be able to put any real pressure on. Having scored the final 24 points in the match, the majority in the last fifteen minutes, Far North Coast deserved their passage to a very rare appearance in the Caldwell Cup Final.

The Illawarrior Colts had a mixed day but are still in the hunt for the Colts Title with two more games to be played on Sunday before the Final. A narrow five point loss to Central Coast started the day but a strong 21 – 7 win over Hunter kept their challenge for the title alive. Round Robin games tomorrow against New England and Far North Coast will determine whether the side gets a chance to play for the Title in the Colts final at 1:30PM on Sunday.