TWO late tries to veteran centre/winger Clint Walker secured Old Bar a hard earned 28-14 win over Wauchope in a error-riddled season-opening Group Three Rugby League game at Old Bar.
Both sides had a number of newcomers in their ranks and this lack of cohesion, coupled with the 30 degree plus temperatures resulted in numerous errors and turnovers. The match was in the balance when Old Bar led 16-14 midway through the second half when another veteran, Aaron Ison crossed for the Blues and Sam Watts kicked the conversion. Old Bar hooker Dylan Towers was serving time in the Sin Bin when this happened. However, Old Bar finished the stronger and co-coach Jason Morrissey credited this to a strenuous off-season preparation conducted by Col Lucas, a former coach.
Carlos Kohu-Martin pushed his way over for the Pirates against his former club to push the margin to 20-14 with a dozen minutes remaining before Walker’s brace of tries sealed the win.
Coaches from both sides were happy with the effort from their sides, if not the execution.
Wauchope mentor Anthony Boyd said the Blues had a couple of late withdrawals because of injuries sustained in the All Stars match last week.
“But that’s footy, I’m not blaming that,’’ he said.
“We had our chances. We’ve got some quality players here and I think we’ll have a good year when we start getting everyone back.’’
Morrissey said the errors were understandable given the heat and the number of new faces in the side.
"But when we made a mistake, we generally defended it,’’ he added.
Morrissey was particularly pleased with the performances of from rowers Jarrad Wooster and Shannon Ellem.
“They're quality props. And you can throw in (lock) Thomas Paulson in there, he really had a go today,’’ Morrissey said.
Ellem scored two tries and was the best player on the park, with his work rate defying the conditions. Wooster is back from a stint with St George's SG Ball (under 18s) and he was also on the ball all match, reveling in the heavy going. Paulson had previously played most of his football as a hooker with Taree City, but he looks more comfortable at the back of the scrum. Kohu-Martin adds starch to the Old Bar defensive pattern that was missing last year. He made a few errors in attack, but he wasn’t Robinson Crusoe in that department.
Old Bar’s pacy backline didn’t really click, but there’s not shortage of potential match winners there. Former schoolboy representative Callem Wesley is another gain for the club this year and scored a try. He played on the wing, but would be a contender to be a bit closer to the action.
Old Bar led 16-4 at halftime via tries to Ellem twice and Wesley and a goal to Percy King. Central Oral Monaghan opened Wauchope’s account. A long run by halfback Jayden Sargent laid on a four pointer for winger Jackson Navegh to bring Wauchope within eight before Ison narrowed the gap to two in the second half.
Old Bar 28 (C Walker 2, S Ellem 2, C Kohu-Martin, C Welsey tries, P King 2 goals) defeated Wauchope 14 (O Monaghan, J Navegh, A Ison tries, S Watts goal).
Reserve grade: Wauchope 24 defeated Old Bar 20
Under 18s Old Bar 26 defeated Wauchope 6
League tag: Wauchope 8 defeated Old Bar 4.