Walcha shines at NIAS awards

Morgan Dunn and NIAS awards M.C.Mike Rabbitt.
Morgan Dunn and NIAS awards M.C.Mike Rabbitt.

CONGRATULATIONS to local Aussie rules player Morgan Dunn on being named AFL athlete of the year when the NIAS awards were held in Tamworth last Saturday night where NBN sports reader Mike Rabbitt was the MC. The presentation evening marked 25 years since the Northern Inland Academy of Sport was established in 1992.

WELL done to Brayden Bloomfield who received the AFL coach’s award at the NIAS presentations. Morgan and Brayden will be joined by their Walcha team mates Nicholas Buckland, Ethan Mills, Teraia Masters, Ethan Bray and Rory Jessep in the New England Nomads Junior Squad when they play their second last club round of 2017 at Bellerive Oval at the UNE from 10.30am.

WALCHA ended the regular rounds of the Central North competition with a crushing 58-15 defeat to Moree here at the Park last Saturday. Pirates finished undefeated on 70 points. The Rams ran second on 60 points after suffering two losses to Pirates while Moree were 10 points away in third position on 50. This Saturday, Pirates and the Rams both get a spell while Moree and Narrabri play one elimination final at Moree and Scone host Gunnedah in the second elimination final on Sunday.

WALCHA went close to winning their Group 4 Second Division match against Werris Creek but a couple of poor options late in the game told a tale at full time. Down 24-20 with around 10 minutes left on the clock, the Roos had their chances but couldn’t finish the job off. The boys were still out there having a go which is the main thing and will play their last game of the 2017 season this Saturday here at the Park against the Bundara Bears.

ALTHOUGH back rowers Ben Green, Andrew Kelly and Brody Smith didn’t receive best and fairest points last Saturday, they couldn’t have been too far off it. If the performance by Benny wasn’t his best in the green and gold, it was right up there with any others while “Kerno” and Brody were at their enthusiastic best.

FORMER Walcha Gold Champion Andrew Brennan finished runner-up in his professional trainee tournament at Bonnie Doon Golf Club in Sydney on Monday just one stroke behind the winner. A.J. shot a two over par 73 in very windy conditions and currently sits on 20th position on the NSW Trainee Order of Merit.

STILL on golf, don’t forget the annual Workplace Challenge sponsored by Tooheys scheduled for Sunday, August 27. The event is played under a three-person ambrose so grab a couple of workmates (not compulsory) and line them up for a fun day out.

Walcha Rams Rugby Report

by Henry King

The weekend was an important game for both A grade and reserve grade, and with the team of 1997 celebrating 20 years since the last Walcha 1st grade premiership, everyone was keen to put their best foot forward.

Reserve Grade started impressively with Cameron Norbury continuing his purple patch with a break through the middle of a driving lineout and he found Tom Rose in support who showed speed not seen in years to touch down for the first try of the game.

Lachy Fletcher hadn’t had as much spraying this week due to the wind and so took the opportunity to catch up as he sprayed his first conversion attempt.

Moree had only lost one game all year but after miraculously avoiding a speeding fine on the way to the game, Charlie McGowan was not taking a backward step, tackling everything that moved and proving a menace at the breakdown, earning himself three points and players’ player in the process.

Pete “Sledgehammer” Young was also at it again, causing some severe headaches for the Moree players. Sam Martin and Ross Fletcher, who received two points, were clearly happy to be realigned in the front row again, but Rossco had clearly not been practicing catching in his time off with a shoulder injury.

Moree managed to get the next try of the game but after Lachy rediscovered his kicking boots, Walcha were back in the lead 8-5. Moree then struck back to take the lead into half time 12-8.

The second half was a very tight affair and it was mainly through strength in numbers that Moree were able to score a couple more tries to take the score to 24-8. Walcha would have the last say, as some strong lead-up work saw the boys rewarded with a try close to full time, with the final score being 24-15.

The try that Dicko Young scored was described by some as the best they had ever seen...

It was another great team performance from the Regies who should be very proud of the season they had, especially the second half of the year with the Moree game being their first loss since following A grade into the top tier. No doubt with a few better results earlier in the year, Walcha Regies would have been a real force in this year’s finals series but the way it has turned out, they will be playing support staff for the A Grade side in what promises to be a massive finals series.

Congratulations to all the reserve grade players throughout the year, it was a fantastic effort to finish the way you did.

A grade knew that the game against third-placed Moree was a critical one to regain momentum after the loss to Pirates last week and also the last opportunity to play together before a showdown with Pirates in the major semi-final on August 19.

Walcha didn’t start all that well, gifting Moree a lot of possession, but the tackling was ferocious with Will Fletcher and Hayden Jarmen leading the way and it wasn’t long before Walcha forced a turnover, marched down the field and put three points on the board through Simon Newton’s boot.

As is often the case, that was followed straight away with a try. Moree hit back with a penalty goal soon after, and after some great defence by the Rams, Moree was forced to take the points on another Walcha penalty. That was the last time that Moree troubled the scorers for the first half but the Rams were hungry for some meat.

The try that Dicko Young scored was described by some as the best they had ever seen, with the movement started by Ed Churchill deep in the Walcha half as he put Young into space down the right wing, who chipped over the top. He sent it back inside to Angus McTavish who pulled the trigger on a huge flick pass out the back, which was scooped up by Sandy Cameron and he was able to find Richard Young once again in support to finish a great team try. He wasn’t done with yet though, and right on half time, ran a great inside line off Simon Newton to score under the posts in what was the final nail in the Moree coffin for the day. Henry King was the other try scorer in the first half off some great forwards’ lead-up work and the half time score was 32-3 to Walcha.

In the second half, Moree stepped up their game but Walcha was able to match it, scoring some great tries. One of the highlights was a big driving maul try from the whole forward pack right in front of the can van and under the watchful eye of new clubhouse addition “The Mighty Ram” sculpted by Ben Tooth and overseeing his first ever game at the oval.

The forwards were almost rewarded with another pushover try, this time from a scrum and Will Fletcher almost had a double, but McTavish had other ideas and after an intercept, Moree went the length of the field and scored, gaining himself two points in the process. Fair to say that the little matchstick made up for his error with some great defence, throwing himself into contact at every opportunity.

Simon Newton was at his best, again producing some great kicking and passing to set up a number of tries and line breaks and finished the game with one point along with fellow country rep Pat Keen who continues his fine form. Ed Cordingley got his name on the scoresheet as did Dom Bower and Sione Kamoto converted the final try of the game to put the icing on his birthday cake, rounding out the 58-15 victory. Will Fletcher was best for Walcha with three points and Hayden Jarmen picked up players’ player for his tireless tackling.

This weekend we have a bye. The Rams will head to Pirates on August 19 in what will be a huge match to qualify for and gain the hosting rights for the grand final on September 2. Hopefully, there is a big crowd down there in support as we look to host our first grand final in five years.