The Junior Gold Cup series returned to the Illawarra on Friday March 4 when the Illawarra boys went up against Victoria at Ocean Park, Woonona. After a very impressive performance from the visitors in both grades, many spectators would have left the ground convinced they had just seen the likely winners of the pool series. The Victorian teams were very well prepared for the matches and ran out clear winners in both games.
In the Under 17 match a three try first half saw the Vics take a 24 – 0 lead at half time and while the locals put up a better effort in the second half, the final score of 38 – 5 was a clear indication of the visitors dominance. All in all it was a disappointing performance from Illawarra but credit must go to the opposition who played with plenty of vigor and skill. The Victorians showed that the future of the fledgling Rebels program is solid if this groups form is anything to go by.
The under 15 Illawarra boys actually managed to show their best form of the series so far. Up against a bigger, stronger opponent the boys weren’t disgraced by the effort they mustered, but eventually went down 12 – 31. Victoria run up a 26 – 0 lead by halftime posting 4 tries in the process. The second half however belonged to Illawarra, with captain Ruben Vermaak running in two well deserved tries, to outscore the Vics. Vermaak and open side Flanker Bailey Lamb were outstanding as the whole squad kept up a solid effort right to the final whistle.
With a bye next weekend the squads will be able to focus on their more familiar opponent, Central Coast, for the final Round matches on March 23 at WIN Stadium.