Round 11 vs Inverell – written by Henry King
Walcha headed to Inverell with both sides really needing a win – A grade to rebuild confidence after a tough loss to Narrabri and reserve grade to consolidate their win against Narrabri and continue their march up the ladder. Reserve Grade had a few less this week, losing a couple to A grade, a couple to injury and a few stragglers but nonetheless started with a strong 6 man bench. They were on fire early and within 10 minutes the Davidson brothers were all over the scoreboard scoring three tries between them, 1 to Angus and 2 to Wally (the second after his brother had gone within centimetres). Olly Crawford looked at home at fly half and made a lot of running metres – less keen (and accurate) on the kicking. Andrew Kelly was at his bullocking best ripping plenty of holes through the Inverell line and was rewarded with a try under the sticks (much to Crawford’s relief) for his efforts. Walcha led 27-7 by half time but Inverell came back early in the second half to score two early tries and take the score to 27-21 before Walcha kicked back up a few gears and put them away. Ed Maltby was very dirty (true to character) after a head clash had him bleeding from the nose and Wally Davidson scored his hat trick and special mention to T-Bone Tape who was on fire in his first start on the wing. Final score was 51-26 and 3 points and players player went to Wally Davidson, 2 to Billy Porter and 1 each to T-Bone and Dan Blanch.
A Grade came out of the blocks a little flat and it looked like the confidence had taken a hit after the first loss in a long time the week before as execution was not as sharp as in previous games. As a result, Inverell took first points through a converted try after the Walcha boys fell off a couple of tackles. Walcha hit back through a penalty goal and then were able to put some better play together and Lachie Fletcher sent the ball blind to Charlie Keen who was unmarked and scored in the corner. The first half was a bit of an arm wrestle – Inverell had clearly turned up to play and Walcha were still struggling with execution and some poor decisions. Eventually Walcha were able to score again through another blindside effort where Charlie Keen turned the ball back inside to Lachie Fletcher to take the score to 15-7. Unfortunately, off the kick-off, Inverell were able to secure some good field position and reduce the deficit to 1 point with 5 minutes left in the half. Those 5 minutes were Walcha’s best of the half and after at least 15 phases of solid defence by Inverell, a Simon Newton cut ball saw Ed Cordingley over in the corner taking the half time score to 20-14.
An improved start to the second half saw some decent phases being put together and Sam Colwell was able to force his way over next to the posts to open up a 13 point buffer. Inverell still refused to lie down though and despite some strong defence at times, a good line and support play from the Inverell backs against the run of play saw them close the gap again to 6 points. Walcha scored again shortly after through Charlie Keen out wide but despite some very strong running from Lachie Brown and Thor Crombie, Walcha were struggling to land the finishing blow. Then came one of the highlights of the match where it looked like Walcha were about to score the try that would finish the game, but an intercept 10 metres out from the Inverell line saw Inverell’s winger take off up the field. Most considered the race over, but not Sammy Colwell, who emerged from the Walcha chasers as the only man likely to catch him and he almost did but just started to tire as he got within a couple of metres of him. It must have been enough to scare the poor bloke though as he collapsed with fear literally 1 metre from the try line. Some desperation defence in the following phases saw Walcha save the try thanks to Sammy’s chase. Walcha did manage to clean up the breakdown late in the game and were rewarded with a penalty goal to take the difference past 14 and a 4th try of the day to Wally Davidson, which was converted from the sideline saw Walcha run out comfortable winners 44-21. It was a patchy performance with some good signs moving ahead to Pirates this weekend. Best for Walcha were Lachie Brown with 3 points, 2 points to tom Bucknell and 1 to Thor Crombie with players player to Sammy ‘the chaser’ Colwell.
This was the first time since 2016 that Walcha had won back the Neil Porter Shield for the combined A Grade and reserve Grade aggregate celebrating Neil’s life which was tragically lost in 2008 travelling back from a Walcha Inverell clash.
This weekend sees a double header with Walcha Roos as we take on Pirates at home which is a huge match for both grades in the context of the season. Look forward to seeing a lot of support down there.