With the first bus trip for the season locked in, signs were very positive that we would have a full reserve grade side and the boys managed to deliver, even with players on the bench which was fantastic to see.
Angus Mactavish found a way to be unfashionably late to the warm up despite arriving at the ground over an hour before kick off and the Rams warm up was seen to be considerably more relaxed than the Moree side who also had players on their bench. 10 of them!
Walcha started the match extremely well, holding onto possession for a long passage of play and making their way deep into the Moree half. A try against the run of play went to Moree but not before the centre combination of Harry Locke and Olly Crawford threw their weight around (probably about 120kg combined), levelling a number of Moree attacks.
Olly was in the thick of it again, regathering his own chip kick to pick up Walcha’s first try. The Walcha boys continued their efforts in defence as well as holding on to the ball for long stretches. Moree was able to narrowly avoid the flying shoulders of Harry and Olly to run in a couple of tries but some great forward momentum through Hugh Morgan, Tom Rose and Chucky McGowan saw Walcha hit back to make the score 17-14 to Moree; Hugh Morgan the try scorer on this occasion.
From there the strength in numbers really told and Moree ran away with it in the second half but the Walcha boys never stopped trying. For an away clash against the top of the table team, the Walcha boys should be very proud for taking it to them and despite the final score line (54-14) the regies continue to improve and will certainly give some teams a real shake in the second round. Best for Walcha were Hugh Morgan with 3 points, Chucky McGowan with 2 points and 1 point each to the bash brothers Olly Crawford (players player) and Harry Locke.
The A grade game was a battle for second on the ladder going into the second round with Walcha sitting just 2 points ahead of Moree on the ladder and did not disappoint.
Walcha were on the back foot early after a defensive lapse saw a slippery Moree five eighth open the scoring.
Walcha five eighth Thor Crombie was up to the task, stripping the Moree fullback of the ball after he had gathered a kick and utilising a bit of Maori footwork to cross the line shortly after. Both sides traded a couple of penalties before Moree held onto the ball for the final 15 minutes of the half.
Walcha were resolute in defence, holding out everything that Moree threw at them, a huge try-saving tackle from young hard man Hayden Jarmen on a flying fijiian a highlight. Unfortunately, Moree were able to get the final say of the half though, scoring on the last play of the half, taking the score to 22-10 to Moree.
Despite this, the messages at half time were simple, to cut out the errors in attack and stop missing one-on-one tackles, maintain the pressure and the old dog Roger’s fitness sessions would start to pay-off as the Moree players would start to tire.
The second half started well with Walcha securing possession and stringing phase after phase together and working their way into the 22 before Henry King crashed over off Jack King.
Walcha were starting to hit their straps by this stage and despite an interesting penalty against, it wasn’t long before Henry King was over again courtesy of some great lead up work from Simon Newton, inside ball to Sione Kamoto, who offloaded to Aldy King and he found his cousin in space with a short but slow run to the tryline due to his lack of pace.
The forwards were really starting to get on top of Moree by this stage of the match and when Dom Bower flew over the top of his opposite number to regather a bomb, and sent it back inside to Richard Young, Walcha had the lead for the first time in the match 31-25.
The final 10 minutes were some of the toughest of the year as Moree hit back quite quickly and put themselves back in front 32-31. But with the Walcha forwards dominating, particularly in the line-out, we felt as though just one more opportunity would be all that was needed.
Fortunately, Walcha were able to secure the ball off the kick off and again through some strong build up in the forwards, were able to create an overlap and a wide ball to the chest of most players, but well above Ed Blomfields head was taken and he took off to the line to take the Walcha side ahead again.
It was a tense final six minutes but Walcha defence held strong as it had for most of the second half and it was a very satisfying win for the red and white 36-32. The bus ride home was just as exciting, for some more than others.
Best for Walcha was Ed Blomfield with 3 points, Henry King with 2 points and players player and 1 point to Sione Kamoto, Simon Newton and Aldy King.
2nd round draw as follows:
8 July – Bye
15 July – Gunnedah (A)
22 July – Scone (H)
29 July – Pirates (A)
5 August – Moree (H)