Danny Russell sinks Pirates with field goal

Danny Russell proved to be the game breaker for Wingham Tigers in the 23-22 win over Old Bar in the Group Three Rugby League game at Old Bar.

Danny Russell proved to be the game breaker for Wingham Tigers in the 23-22 win over Old Bar in the Group Three Rugby League game at Old Bar.

A FIELD goal three minutes from fulltime by Danny Russell saw Wingham Tigers grab a 23-22 win over Old Bar in a bruising Group Three Rugby League game at Old Bar.

Russell was playing at The Graveyard for the first time against his former club. He said before the match how much he was looking forward to the encounter. The veteran halfback turned in a great second half performance to inspire the Tigers to the upset. However, there was still plenty of drama to go in the match after Russell potted the one pointer. Russell kicked the ball out on the full in the last tackle, giving Old Bar possession and field position and the Pirates hammered the Wingham line in the dying seconds of the game. However, the defence was up to the task, although there were a couple of close calls.

Russell said he thought the worst when he saw the ball sail out on the full.

“I thought that’s cost us the game,’’ he said after the game.

“That could have been a costly one. But our defence held out – we pride ourselves on our defence this year and it was good, especially in the last couple of minutes when we were under pressure.’’

Russell didn’t only kick the field goal. He scored a smart individual try when play looked to have broken down and then landed the conversion in swirling conditions to give the Tigers a 22-16 advantage in the second half. This was the first time they’d led all match. Typically, his defence was exemplary while apart from two wayward efforts, his kicking game kept turning Old Bar around and provided the basis for the shift of momentum in the game after Old Bar were dominate early. 

On the flip side he also failed to find touch from a penalty and two rucks later Old Bar’s Percy King finished off an attacking raid to score. The touch judges were undecided about King’s goal attempt, with one awarding the kick and the other waving it away. However, referee Cameron Thomas ruled in Old Bar’s favour to lock the scores up with five minutes remaining.

Wingham look to have a prospect in English five-eighth Danny Price. He set two tries and gives the Tigers’ attack some polish.

Old Bar started in red hot form and had 12 points on the board after 11 minutes via tries to hooker Dylan Towers and winger Scott Bungie with King kicking both conversions – the second from the sideline.

However, Wingham responded, first with a try to winger Michael Bailey after Price gathered in a ball from a kick and sent the winger clear. Fullback Matt Bridge – who had a busy game –notched the second when he joined in a backline raid and forced his way over. The conversion missed and it was 12-10 at the turnaround.

Clint Walker scored his obligatory try for the Pirates, on this occasion grabbing a rebound from a Joel Dark kick and getting around the defence to increase Old Bar’s lead to 16-10. Yet the Pirates were struggling for rhythm and coughing up possession and from there Russell took control.

Old Bar coach Jason Morrissey was quick to praise Russell’s input.

“Rusty (Russell) is a hell of a footballer,’’ he said at fulltime.

“He was outstanding today.’’

However, he wasn’t too despondent after the loss.

“Obviously we made too many mistakes,’’ he said.

“We didn’t complete real well and there were some s..t kicks on the third tackles and stuff like that. But I can’t take anything away from Wingham – to beat us on The Graveyard after being down 12-0, well, full credit to them.

“But that’s our first loss since the (Coffs Harbour) nines – it had to come eventually. The boys a really disappointing but like I said to them, it’s not a grand final.’’