What a frustrating day last Sunday was for all involved with Illawarra Junior Gold Cup. The squads headed up to St Gregorys College Campbelltown for the second round matches against Sydney West. The day got off to a pretty solid start in the Under 15 match, with both sides putting in plenty of effort in the first half, which resulted in a halftime score of 7-5 to Sydney West. Illawarra put in a spirited 30 minutes with impressive wingman Escher Leduc scoring his sides try. But for some inexplicable reason the Illawarra side lost all intensity in the second half and conceded 5 tries to the western boys to go down 40-5. The young Illawarra players are going to have to learn to play for the full 60 minutes if they are to show their true abilities in the weeks to come.
The Under 17 match proved just as frustratiing but for different reasons. The match finished in a 7 all draw after each side scored one try. The west went to the break in front 7-0 after centre Sam Tapa forced his way over next to posts. Illawarra went close to scoring on a number of occasions only to see a player taken into touch a metre out, and others held up twice over the line. The Illawarra boys had the best of the second half with centre Ayden Janssen finishing off a sweeping play with a try under the posts. A long break down the right side saw the ball come back in field to skipper Angus Clark who planted a beautifull ball onto Aydens chest for him to cross untouched. The next 10 minutes saw Illawarra mount severe pressure on the west line but the try didn’t come as the western defence withstood several heavy raids. A couple of penalty goal opportunities went begging as Illawarra strived for that elusive 5 pointer that didn’t come thanks to the wests stoic defence.
So it’s on the road this week for matches against Western NSW in Orange on Sunday. Both sides should take some heart from the improvement shown in last Sundays games but will need to raise their effort and resolve to be competitive with what will be strong opposition from the boys from the bush.