Walcha vs Barraba/Gwydir – Round 6 (written by Henry King)
After a tough weekend at Moree last weekend, the Rams were looking to bounce back against a solid Barraba/Gwydir outfit back at home on the weekend. Gwydir had been travelling well in reserve grade but the rams reggies needed a win to stay in touch with the top 4. The Rams started well, after some early possession to Barraba, the Rams were able to get the ball back and skipper Tom Rose turned down a couple of shots on goal before the backline opened up some space out wide and Brad Partridge was over in the corner. Soon after, Walcha made a big break up the field through George Berry and some enterprising play saw them shift it back inside and Harry Locke sent a long cut ball to find none other than Brad Partridge who was in for his second try within the first 15 minutes and Sione was starting to get nervous his record might only last a couple of weeks. Charlie Keen converted from the sideline before Gwydir were able to hit back to make the core 12-7 about 5 minutes before half time. Rosey turned down another shot at goal and it paid off again when Walcha hit the blind-side and Lachie Fletcher threw a nice pass to his winger who scored in the corner – none other than Brad Partiridge, a hat-trick before half time and Sione was now sweating! The second half turned into an arm-wrestle with the bulk of the play deep in can van corner but Walcha were unable to put the icing on the cake despite dominating possession and territory. Crawf then took Brad off after a threat came in from Sione and while Walcha could only manage a penalty goal for the half, it was enough for the victory as they only conceded a try in the final play when the game was done and dusted – final score 22-14. A great confidence-building win for the reggies and best for Walcha were 3 points to Brad Partridge, 2 points and players player to Charlie Keen and 1 point to Wally Davidson.
A Grade needed to tidy up a few things from the previous week and things started well with run-on debutant Richie Hunt making some strong inroads early. Barraba had some early possession but Walcha had plenty of answers, particularly Jacob Sherrin, who picked off a wide ball from Barrabas fly half and ran 70m to score the opening try. Some very slick blind side play saw Dom Bower over under the sticks shortly after despite some solid defence from Barraba. Walcha were relishing the attacking play, with the passing a lot smoother this week and all players chipping in. Thor Crombie scored from the back of the ruck after some more great phase play had Walcha pressuring the line and a couple of driving lineouts eventually saw Dave Healey belie his old age and score his first try since 1993. Ed Cordingley and Dicko Young finished off some great backline plays and Walcha went into half time leading 38-0.
The scoreline was probably more reflective of how good Walcha were more than how bad Barraba were as it was clear in the contact zone that Barraba had turned up to play but led by Richard Hunt, Lachie Brown and Will Fletcher, the whole Walcha forward pack were well and truly up to the task, setting a great platform for the backline. After early tries to Sione and unbelievably, Ross Fletcher, taking Walcha past 50, the game turned into a bit of an arm wrestle, or more a scrum wrestle with about 15 scrums in the space of 10 minutes. Walcha were clearly dominant during this phase and many thought Barraba should have lost more than the two men that were sent to the bin, with the front row of Ross Fletcher, Richie Hunt and Henry Leslie doing a great job. Dom Bower eventually opened them up again off a Simon Newton pass and Ed Cordingley put the final nail in the coffin, finishing with a try set-up from a big wind-up from Jim Ashleigh showing he’s not shy of contact – something we knew already. The final score was 66-0 and put Walcha back on top of the ladder after Moree stumbled against this week’s opponent, Gunnedah. Best for Walcha were Richie Hunt with 3 points and players player, 2 points to Jim and 1 point to Cordo.
Don’t forget that next week is Ladies Day as we take on Gunnedah in what should be two great games of Rugby. Look forward to seeing a bit Rams crowd there.