Three over two a first for 14 years
ONE of the longest losing streaks in bush rugby league is over.
For the first time since 1995, Group 3 has beaten VB Gold Group 2 in their annual clash, winning 18-14 on a rain swept Hastings Regional Stadium last Saturday.
But rather than be disheartened, coach Peter Denham paid tribute to his side's ability to dig their way out of a jam.
“The game only goes for 40 minutes and we surrendered possession with an error from the kick-off, and then had to defend for five consecutive sets,” he said.
“They were really keen to beat us and with that much possession it's no wonder they scored three tries.
“Finally, things swung our way in the last 15 minutes when we held the ball for four sets and were able to put tries on the board but in the end, time just ran out and they got us by a couple of points.”
Part of the Oxley Region selection tri-series (also including Group 4), the loss did no harm to the reputation of local football with selectors choosing nine Group 2 players in the team to contest the Country Rugby League Championships - exactly half of the squad.
And Denham, considered one of the best players produced in the area, said he was thrilled by his first excursion into senior representative coaching after a breathtaking run of success at junior and schoolboy level.
“Having my old mate Darren Leaney alongside was a big help, as was working with players so keen to do well,” he said.
“Everyone showed a genuine desire to play for the bloke beside him and the selectors did a fantastic job to come up with such a team of good fellas willing to put in the effort.”
Denham was certain the lack of a trial was no hindrance to the preparation.
“To be honest, I'm not a great believer in trials when the boys have a professional approach to the game,” he added.
“Because of weather we only had one training run, all I needed to know (was) we had something happening and it's not surprising we supplied half the Pioneers team.
“Blokes like Dave Pickvance may have been around for a while but they still want to play at the top level and it would not surprise if he gets recalled at some stage to the Country side.”
Meanwhile, Group 2's junior squad lost both their matches narrowly but still managed three selections in the Oxley forward pack, with two chosen for the reserve bench.
The juniors will train at Walcha next Friday at 10am while the seniors don't train until Friday, April 24, when they meet at 6pm at Lank Bain Reserve, Wauchope.
1 - David Pickvance (Macksville)
2 - Todd Clarke (Wauchope)
3 - Joel Asher (Port Macquarie)
4 - Matthew Hill (Forster Tuncurry)
5 - Matt Bush (Bellinger Valley-Dorrigo)
6 - Milton Thaiday (Halliday's Point)
7 - Jarvis Watton (Coonabarabran)
8 - Andrew Miller (Coffs Harbour)
9 - Sean Ferguson (North Tamworth)
10 - Tim Coombes (Wauchope)
11- Robert Trembath (Wauchope)
12 - Wade Gerhard (Woolgoolga)
13 - Grant Coleman (Macksville)
14 - Jeremy Lang (Port Macquarie)
15 - Jeremy Wood (Sawtell)
16 - Chris Vidler (West Lions)
17 - Sam McKechnie (Woolgoolga)
18 - Josh Schmiedel (North Tamworth)
Coach: Tim O'Brien (Tamworth)