Walcha vs Gunnedah rd 7 – written by Henry King
This week as part of the rugby report, boom Bendemeer recruit Henry Leslie has allowed us unprecedented access to his diary in the lead up to Ladies Day. All Les’ prayers were answered on a great day at Captain Cook as Walcha took on Gunnedah.
Dear Diary, after a big feed of Chinese lined up for Friday night and a quiet night in with Scotty talking game plans for the clubhouse and practicing dance moves – he’s the worst dance partner by the way – way too tall and nothing to grip onto – here’s how I’m planning the day to plan out: Reggies will play a good game of footy but the props won’t stand out – I don’t need the added pressure of having to perform on the field as well as off the field. Reggies will probably just go down but play a great game, leaving the crowd salivating for the main fixture. Gunnedah knocked Moree off last week so they should be handy but we have three gingers in our team so we should be way too good (I love Ginger nuts, always have). I won’t miss a throw all day, I’ve been throwing so well this year, I have way better style than Richie Hunt but he goes alright. I’ll probably bag a meat pie in the can van corner and there will be heaps of chicks watching, they will be so keen for a bit of Les balls in the club house after seeing my Ben Tune slide. Hopefully its late in the game and one of the reggies boys can slip me a tinnie and I’ll do my player’s player scull right in front of the crowd – the chicks will dig that heaps. I won’t say too much about what will happen in the club-house because I don’t like to kiss and tell. Can’t wait, jeez I love the Rams.
The day could not have gone much closer to Les’ script but a few things got under his skin. Reggies had a very tough encounter, with a number of Gunnedah’s side being genuine first graders. Walcha put the first points on however, after some slick passing saw Ollie Crawford in space and he put some unbelievable footwork on followed by a show-stopping summersault put-down and gave the Gunnedah full-back some time on the sideline injured despite the fact that he hadn’t even been able to lay a hand on him. Walcha were playing some great footy but were unable to assert dominance of the ruck for long enough periods to enable Ollie and Harry Locke enough quality ball to keep putting on points. As a result, they were forced to defend for much of the first half and soon the weight of possession saw Gunnedah hit back to take the lead 7-5. Walcha were able to put the pressure back on Gunnedah and were rewarded when a great scrum by Walcha’s tight 5 forced a bad pass from the base and Lachie Fletcher was able to dive on the ball to score and then convert from the sideline seeing Walcha lead 12-7 at the break. The second half saw more of the same where Walcha couldn’t quite gain total control of the breakdown and as a result, despite both defending and attacking well, they were unable to put more points on. When Gunnedah brought on some fresh and huge reserves, it proved to be the difference as they were able to force two tries close to the ruck despite Walcha defending extremely well. Then Gunnedah brought their fullback back on and Ollie Crawford’s eyes lit up – he brushed aside a couple of would-be tacklers and set his sites on the full-back again – some say they saw him laughing stevie hoy style as he coasted past him on the way to levelling the scores with 5 minutes to go at 19-all. Unfortunately, Gunnedah had the last laugh as they must have read Les’ diary and they scored in the last 2 minutes to take the game 26-19. Bet for Walcha was Ollie Crawford with 3 points and players player, 2 points to Wally Davidson and 1 to Billy Porter.
A Grade started perfectly to script – Gunnedah’s defence was big and ferocious but Walcha’s forwards were more than up to the task, giving as good as they got and after an early penalty, Les’ dreams came true as he received a nice cut ball from Thor Crombie and dived over with style more like a cement bag than Ben Tune but equally effective. Walcha continued to meet fire with fire in the forwards and were soon rewarded with a slick lineout move sneaking around the front where Will Fletcher fed Henry Leslie with only a small winger between him and the tryline (Les’ Diary Sunday 3:17am: Dear Diary – JACKPOT) Walcha 13-0. The first half continued in that vein and it was in the first 20 or 25 minutes that Walcha won the game by blunting Gunnedah’s forward pack. This led to two more tries before half time, both scored by Ed Cordingley, the second of which caused more Gunnedah fullback headaches as he steamrolled him from 15 metres out. Gunnedah did manage to score one try in the first half and heaped a lot of pressure on Walcha late in the half but Walcha held strong to take a 25-7 lead at the break.
In the second half, Walcha continued to turn the screws on Gunnedah and some great defence saw Gunnedah’s forwards begin to lose their sting in defence. Walcha capitalised, only increasing their sting in defence and soon had the rewards (and more headaches for Gunnedah fullbacks) as Sione Kamoto burst through the first line and literally jumped over the Gunnedah fullback to score under the posts. Dom Bower kept the pressure on after a clearance kick was fielded and he sliced through about 4 tackle attempts to score under the posts in a brilliant try. Sione found himself with 10 minutes rest and a carton owing and shortly after, Gunnedah’s number 8 gained an early shower for a red card after he hit Simon Newton late and high one too many times. Gunnedah did manage a couple of tries late but the damage was done in the first half. Walcha put the icing on the cake with about 5 minutes to go when Bower scooped up a kick about 60 out from the line and scooted down the touch line before giving the Gunnedah fullback one final nightmare with a no-look over the shoulder ball to Charlie Keen who scored to finish the game at 46-17. Best for Walcha were Will Fletcher with 3 points, Dom Bower with 2 points and players player and 1 point to Jim Ashleigh.
Raising money for the Black Dog Institute, the Rams supporters dug deep and the jersey auction raised over $4000, an impressive reflection on the generosity of the Walcha community especially in such dry times. Special mention to Lee and Ruth fletcher who manage to fight off Chris Betts for the coveted man of the match number 7 at a whopping $900.
In the final game of round 1, Walcha will head to Scone next weekend where a win will see us maintain top spot on the ladder after round 1 before a well-earned 2 week break.
To check out the game in full go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKp7GgR7msI&feature=youtu.be