Semis leave Walcha smiling

Golden moment: Jillaroos are all smiles and thumbs up after their semi win.
Golden moment: Jillaroos are all smiles and thumbs up after their semi win.

WHAT a great weekend for Walcha footy just gone when the Rams and Jillaroos both won elimination matches against Gunnedah and Dungowan respectively. Here at home, the Rams cruised into the Central North grand final, while at Bendemeer, the Jillaroos qualified for the Group 4 Second Division Ladies League Tag preliminary final.

BEST of luck to the Rams when they take on reigning premiers Pirates this Saturday at Chillingworth Oval in Tamworth which will be a replay of the major semi-final played at the same venue a fortnight ago. Hopefully this time around Walcha might get a fair deal when it comes to 50/50 calls from the referee.

BEST of luck also to the Jillaroos who play minor premiers Kootingal in their preliminary final at Kootingal this Saturday after Kooty were knocked off by Uralla last Saturday. Men’s minor premiers Kootingal were beaten by Barraba who came from behind to win and will now host the premiership deader Saturday week. Humblest apologies to Kathryn Smith who I left out of the team list last week.

THE 2017 Walcha Basketball season will finalise next Wednesday evening following minor and major semi-finals this week and then the preliminary final on Monday night. Good luck to all those involved.

CONGRATULATIONS to the five Walcha Central School athletes who have qualified for the State Athletic Championships early next month after outstanding performances at the recent North West Regional Carnival. Jackson Imberger lead the way with wins in the 200 and 400 metres, second place in 100 metres and relay. Teraia Masters was right there with him winning 100 metre and high jump second in 200 metres and relay. They were joined in the relay by Beau Abraham who also won his high jump and Morgan Dunn. Victory in the long jump earned Maylen Schmutter selection on the N.W team. Well done, boys.

AT primary school level, the Blake sisters Stephanie and Emily both won their 100 metre events at the New England Regional Carnival and will represent the zone at the North West Championships along with Harriet Crawford and Jemma Warden in the relay. Jemma has qualified for the 800 metres after winning her event and the 200 metres with a third place while Harriet is in the 800 metres after running third. In field events, Olivia Haslem was runner up in the shot put. Good on ya, girls.

WALCHA Central all-round sportsperson Zac Warden represented North West at the State PSSA Rugby Championships held at Salamander Bay last week. Zac played in all seven games as breakaway where NW won three matches – the first time they have done that in 10 years. Zac was in a squad of 22 players who finished in 11th position.

WALCHA RAMS RUGBY REPORT

AFTER losing the chance to advance straight through to the grand final as well as hosting rights, Walcha were keen to give themselves one final crack at the Pirates but were wary of a resurgent Gunnedah side.

Missing key players in socialite Sandy Cameron, as well as Dom Bower and Henry King due to knee injuries, Walcha called in Tom Rose, Pete “the sledgehammer” Young and Hayden Jarmen and were confident of a strong showing against the Red Devils, having knocked them over twice earlier in the year.

The early part of the game was a tight battle with the sides trading penalties and Gunnedah had the lead by 6-3. That was before Walcha saw some quality ball and through some strong lead-up work in the forwards, Simon Newton was able to put a great ball across to Ed Churchill who continued his devastating form and sliced through the Gunnedah defence and handed off to Ed Cordingley for the opening try.

Walcha were at it again soon after as skipper Will Fletcher turned down another opportunity for three points and delivered a great ball out the back for Simon Newton to put Pat Keen through for the second try and Walcha were beginning to look very good leading 17-6. Several penalties against Walcha had them on the back foot for the remaining 15 minutes of the first half but the defence was outstanding right across the park. Unfortunately, the pressure finally told and Gunnedah managed to score after the half-time siren to take the score to 17-13.

The second half proved to be an arm wrestle for the first 15 minutes but Walcha’s defence was holding firm and Gunnedah did not look like scoring. In the meantime, Walcha were creating a number of opportunities out wide only to have the last pass spoiled; Pete Young was absurdly ruled to have stepped into touch while scoring a try – right in front of the can van as well.

Walcha eventually found the first points of the half through a Simon Newton penalty and he was at it again soon after running straight over the top of his opposite number to take the score to 25-13. Coach Barry Hoy made an inspired substitution sending Walcha’s own Honey Badger Charlie McGowan into the fray and the forwards were starting to get on a roll despite having a few issues in the lineout. Another penalty to Newton opened the gap to more than two converted tries and with Jack King causing big headaches for the tiring Gunnedah big forwards, it was only a matter of time before Walcha sealed the game. It was Jack King who put the final nail in the Red Devils coffin in the end off another cut ball from Simon Newton to Pete Young down the can van touch line and King was ready in support to finish the try.

Gunnedah did manage a consolation try and Newton added one more penalty after the full-time siren to finish the scores at 36-20, booking the Rams a well-deserved grand final berth for the first time in five years.

This weekend, we turn our attention on Pirates for one final dig. We hope that the Walcha supporters paint Tamworth red and white as we look to turn the tables and finish the season in the best way possible. Supporters’ bus is leaving from the clubhouse at 11.30am and will return to the clubhouse soon after the game for post grand final festivities. Walcha Rugby hats can be purchased from Walcha Handmade for those looking to step-up their level of support.

The presentation night is to be held at the Rugby Club on September 15 with tickets $70 per head which can be transferred direct to the rugby club:  BSB: 062699; Acct: 028009717. Should be a cracking night to celebrate a cracking season.