Walcha goalie's masters effort

Relive the glory: The Walcha Rams are holding a 20-year reunion this weekend for the squad that won the 1997 Central North Rugby competition.
Relive the glory: The Walcha Rams are holding a 20-year reunion this weekend for the squad that won the 1997 Central North Rugby competition.

WELL done to Kathryn Smith who was a member of the New England over-40s field hockey team that finished runners-up in the the Half State Masters Championship in Grafton last weekend. New England went down 1-0  to Manning Valley in the grand final where goalkeeper Kathryn reckoned she had saved harder shots than the only one she missed. By all accounts, the Manning Valley team have being playing together since they were U/13.

CONGRATULATIONS to young soccer player Tommy Le Strande who, after playing the sport for several years, scored his first goal ever when he slotted one last Saturday playing for the Uralla Tigers. Word has it that Tom went for the “Big Boys” celebration by pulling his guernsey up over his head as he ran back on side. Way to go, Tommy.

THE Walcha Rams are holding a 20-year reunion this weekend for the squad that won the 1997 Central North Rugby competition despite going into the grand final as massive underdogs after losing their two star forwards Rashid Bikov and Igor Khoklov who had to return home to Russia just before the decider. Party time commences Friday and continues on the next day.

THE Roos had their share of good fortune last Saturday when they defeated Boggabri 36-32 in their Group 4 Second Division Rugby League fixture here at home. The visitors had a chance to win the game right on fulltime but missed on all important conversion attempt and then Walcha went on to win though a Jhorden Coulter try in extra time.

JILLAROOS captain Robyn Broadbent made a return to the field last Saturday after missing several weeks with a broken ankle she suffered at Barraba earlier in the season. Coach Kevin Creighton used his playmaker sparingly against Boggabri and there is little doubt Robyn’s presence will have a big bearing on how the team progresses come semi-final time.

THE Roos have their last road trip when they travel to Werris Creek on Saturday to take on the Magpies before they return home to play the Bundarra Bears in their final game in 2017 the following Saturday. The Jillaroos will have at least one extra match away depending on how they go in the semis.

Walcha Rams Rugby Report

Team effort: Walcha number eight Will Fletcher and fullback Ed Churchill join forces against Pirates number eight Conrad Starr on Saturday. Photo: Samantha Newsam

Team effort: Walcha number eight Will Fletcher and fullback Ed Churchill join forces against Pirates number eight Conrad Starr on Saturday. Photo: Samantha Newsam

with Henry King

Round 13 saw undefeated Pirates take on second-placed Walcha. 

When the Pirates saw Sam Martin warming up for the reserve grade game, they called for uncontested scrums, meaning they had to drop a player to match the 14 Walcha reggies who had turned up – a masterstroke from the reserve grade coach.

Walcha looked in trouble early with Pirates crossing for two tries but the Rams had other ideas. Sherrin took his first try after some strong lead up work from the forwards. He soon had his double and Walcha was back in the contest. Lachy Fletcher was pinpoint accurate all day. Jake Sherrin wasn’t content with that and crossed for an impressive four tries, taking his tally to nine in the past three weeks!

Pirates never went away, and in the last two minutes, with Walcha leading 41-35, it looked like they might steal it back, but Walcha took their third win on the trot. Jake “Beavis” Sherrin picked up three points and players’ player, Hayden Jarmen picked up two points and Doug Elliot one.

Reggies have one final hit-out for the year this weekend and will be looking to knock off their 4th top four side in a row when they face top-of-the-table Moree. 

Pirates were first to see points in the A grade match. Walcha conceded a couple of penalties and a lineout steal that Walcha failed to clean up resulted in a try. From there, the first half was all Walcha. Outstanding lead-up work saw Ed Churchill take on the Pirates forwards, who had at least 40kg on him and win, scoring Walcha’s opening try. This came despite Walcha losing Ed Blomfield to the sin bin after too many penalties.

Blomfield was later crippled by a hamstring tear which saw him leave the field in an ambulance.

Walcha were ahead 14-7 after 30 minutes. Pirates came back at Walcha again, putting together no less than 16 phases. Walcha had the last say as Pirates were penalised under the posts at the ruck and Simon Newton converted to make the score 17-7 at half time.

Strong lead-up work from the whole team in the second half saw Walcha score again through Pat Keen. Pirates were clearly frustrated and their five-eighth took it out on Henry King and Ed Churchill, punching them both in the aftermath of Keen’s try and earning himself an early shower.

At that point, Pirates turned a corner. On two occasions in the last 15 minutes, they scored tries to take the score to 28-24 with seven minutes to go. The final seven minutes was all Walcha but despite looking the goods, we were unable to land the killer blow. It was an outstanding game of rugby and after a 45-point loss in the first round, a huge step up from the Rams.

It is exciting times for the Rams, as we look towards Moree this weekend at Captain Cook Oval in the final round – a chance to seal a crucial top two position. We will not be letting the opportunity to host a grand final slip away without a colossal fight. Three points and players’ player went to Sandy Cameron, two points to Simon Newton and one point each to Ed Churchill and Dave Healey.