Despite a considerable amount of rainfall threatening to dampen everyone’s enthusiasm, a good crowd turned out for the opening matches in the ARU Junior Gold Cup at WIN Stadium on Sunday. Right on cue to rain stopped as everyone took their seats to enjoy their first taste of the new National Junior Rugby Tournament.
It was evident very early in the Under 15 game that the home side was in for a busy afternoon as the Sydney North Harbour side clicked straight into gear and caught the Illawarra boys by surprise. Scoring 3 first half tries the Sydney boys raced to a 17-3 half time lead. If not for some ball handling errors from the visitors the score could have been more embarrassing for the locals. To their credit the Illawarra boys came out after half time full of enthusiasm which resulted in Dee Ioapo scoring his sides only try of the match which bridged the gap to 7 points. The improved second half performance gave the Illawarra fans some hope but in the end it was the relentless attack from the Sydney side that won out over some dogged Illawarra defence. Finishing strongly with 3 late tries Sydney North ran out winners 38-10.
The Under 17 match was almost a carbon copy of the 15’s match with Sydney North running in 3 first half tries to lead 19-5 at the break. A solitary try to winger Zac Bedingfield provided some excitement for home fans, but with far too many simple errors from the locals they were unable to mount any real pressure. Despite a strong effort from Captain Angus Clark and some outstanding defensive work from flanker Jordan Ieremia the second half was dominated by the much better organised Sydneysiders who prevailed 34-5.
It’s back to the drawing board for the Illawarra boys, as they prepare for next Sunday’s matches against Sydney West at St Gregorys College, Campbelltown.