Another very frustrating day for Junior Gold Cup squads again this week. The opponents this time were Western NSW and the matches were played at Endeavour Oval, Orange, the home of Orange Emus Rugby Club. For the second week in a row both sides played their way into winning positions only to see the results go the other way.
In the under 15’s a half time lead of 10-7 became a 17-19 score-line with ten minutes remaining with the team very much in the game. However two late tries to the western side saw Western NSW win 31-17. For Illawarra winger Escher Leduc continued his outstanding form with two tries. His second half try was a gem when he took the ball in his own quarter and after a weaving, tackle busting run he scored close to the posts. Dee Ioapo scored another try and Finn Loiterton kicked a conversion. Other players to impress for Illawarra were Ed Baillieu, Bailey Lamb and the ever present Daniel Taufahema.
The Under 17 result was very cruel on the Illawarra boys. With a half time lead of 12-5, and after leading for the whole match, a try to Western at the 34 minute mark of the second half, saw the result go astray by one point 17-18. With tries to Brandon Faavae-eli, Josh Noonan and Brodie Ford and one conversion from Lachlan Huntingdon, the team’s first win seemed on target, but it was not to be.
A series of controversial penalties to the western boys in the final minutes of the game saw Illawarra marched down the field. With field position in their favour the winning try came with seconds left to play. Hopefully some tough lessons were learnt by the Illawarra boys for the future. Coach Jay Tregonning was just as disappointed as his players with the result but still found some positives from the match. “Our youngest player Liam Rasch was great. His physical effort was outstanding and his support play was excellent. Josh Noonan was good for us off the bench and Brodie Ford ran strongly and was constantly looking for the ball”
It’s a short turn around this week for the boys who will play Victoria on Friday evening at Ocean Park, Woonona with the Under 17’s playing at 4.30PM and the Under 15’s following at 5.45PM. The Victorians started their campaign with wins in both grades against Sydney North in Melbourne on Sunday.