Deniliquin’s promising start to the 2013 Southern Inland Rugby Union (SIRU) season has continued.
The locals upset powerhouse Albury Steamers 29-25 in their second grade match at Murrayfield on Saturday.
Home side Albury had a last-gasp chance to snatch victory in the dying moments of the match, but fumbled the ball
over the try line.
Drovers coach Warwick Strong said the result was a “tremendous” effort from his young side.
“To win at Albury, in any grade, is a big effort,” he said.
“They’re always stronger at home and have probably had the better of us head-to-head over the years.”
This was Deniliquin’s first clash with Albury since 2004, having played their last eight seasons in the Victorian
Despite a less-than-ideal warm-up (due to minor vehicle issues), Deni came out firing in the first half.
The Drovers’ forwards bullied their opposite pack early, continuously pushing Albury backwards through numerous
This led to tries to number-eight Storm Tamati, breakaway Reed Jackson and hooker Lynden Goulding, while backs
Zac Tamati and Kiennan Jones also crossed for Deniliquin.
Jones’ five-pointer was particularly impressive. Set up by inspirational skipper Jack Ellice-Flint, the young winger
burst onto a cut out pass and ran 30 metres to score under the post.
The Steamers refused to crack though, also chipping in with three tries of their own in the first half.
Ellice-Flint and outside centre Todd Thocolich both kicked a conversion each in the first half to see the Drovers claim
a 29-15 lead at the break.
“The second half was an entirely different story,” Strong said.
“It became a battle to defend our lead.
“Albury brought on a few experienced replacements and we just had to defend.”
The Steamers managed to score two tries and nil in the second stanza. Deni lacked enough possession to trouble
Albury, and when they actually had the ball, errors and poor decision making let them down.
But to their credit, the locals held on for morale-boosting victory – despite the heart-stopping finish.
“We were pretty lucky in the end,” Strong said.
“We got ourselves in trouble when we didn’t need to. We just never got on the front foot at all (in the second half).
“We panicked in our own half and made some silly decisions.
“But both sides blew tries, so we certainly did deserve the win.
“Admittedly we defended pretty well which was pleasing.”
Storm Tamati snared three votes as best player afield, Reed Jackson claimed two and prop Stu Kent one. Young
second-rower Chris Poka won the Players’ Player mug and Kiennan Jones took home the ‘Dingo Award’.
“I was also really happy with Tom Rose in the second-row,” Strong said.
“His line-out work was fantastic and he made tackle, after tackle all day.
“It was also good to see Nathan Transton back. He just brings so much experience into our front row.
Deniliquin’s first home match of the season will be held at Memorial Park from 2.30pm this Saturday. The locals take
on CSU Reddies.