The Cootamundra Tri-Colours defeated the Harden Red Devils 16-0 in round four of the South West Oils Cup at Robert’s Park on Saturday afternoon.
It turned in to a bit of a fizzer for the crowd in that the game did not reach any great heights, however, Coota certainly let the Devils know that they will take their opportunities and use them to punish Harden and any other side, if ill discipline enters the fray.
The game commenced at 3:15pm and it took 20 minutes before sustained pressure from the Tri Colours saw Jason Cronin run an excellent line off Matt Berkrey to score under the posts. Berkrey brought his kicking boots with him as usual and tapped it over to make it 7-0.
Harden made their way down to Coota’s 22 metre line where Max O’Connor was tackled by a Coota player who was on the ground. The sneaky trick did not go un-noticed by the Referee who awarded Harden a penalty.
They failed to capitalise and Coota went on the attack with 10 minutes left in the first half. Coota began to show their dominance in the scrum department and several collapsed or went around the merry go round.
Harden’s backline was quiet and will need to execute their plays better if they are to put points on the board.
The last couple of seasons has seen Ben Lenehan fly up in defence and cut down any threats, however, his shift to Fullback isn’t allowing the side the ability to snuff out threats early.
Coota was backing their defence and not worried to run one out and pop a pass which resulted in plenty of broken field play.
The half time siren was set to sound, but not before Berkrey stepped up to slot another penalty and make it 10-0. The half time siren sounded and both sides sucked in the water in what was becoming a physical match.
A ruck infringement saw Berkrey step up and slot another goal to make it 13-0 just 5 minutes in to the second half.
Harden had a chance to come back and at times looked like they may score, however, ill discipline was the order of the day.
Berkrey was given the opportunity to kick another penalty goal, this time from over 40 metres out.
The old saying is you can’t teach speed. With Berkrey it’s a similar analogy in that, you either have a big boot or you don’t.
Matt does and he will punish sides each week if given the chance in that he can kick them from the 50 metre mark.
It was 16-0 and that’s the way it stayed.
The Times reporter ducked into the Devil’s chat after the whistle blew and it was clear that Harden needed to get to training and ensure that each of their players knew exactly what they were doing in their respective positions.
They focused on the positives and their defence as well as the blokes who helped out.
Harden conceded that they lost 16-0 without a full complement at training to arguably the best team in the comp.
Best for Harden included Oliver Fairfield-Smith, Charlie Brown and Jack Alcorn who did his best to silence the influential Cam Stanley. Coota Coach Mitch Wakeford was happy with the physicality and the line speed shown by the Tri Colours.
He said “It’s two towns who share a lot of mates and it’s great to come over here and get the win. Mesi Mesina and Nemani Neli were very good for us today.”
Coota’s best included Fergus Bragg who received 3 points.
He delivered another all round performance, carried the ball strongly and his work rate was second to none.
Matt Berkrey ran straight all day and didn’t miss a goal, he received 2 points.
Corey Nicholson was only 3 weeks back from a face fracture. He was fearless in his carries and brought real energy to the game. Player’s player’ went to Angus Forster.
Coota Coach Mitchell Wakeford said, “It’s fair to say Gus is back to his best. He is asserting himself at scrum time and his carries and work at the break down has been as affective as ever.”
The Tri Colours will head to Young to take on the Yabbies this week, while Harden stays at home and will welcome West Wyalong.