14 May, 2024

Gular plays Walgett at wet McGrane (Part 2)

The aforementioned historic women’s game was the Flamin’ Galahs' first competition match under the new tri tag rugby format.

By Supplied

Gular plays Walgett at wet McGrane (Part 2) - feature photo

By The Pink Parrot

The aforementioned historic women’s game was the Flamin’ Galahs' first competition match under the new tri tag rugby format. The founder of this format, former St George Illawarra legend Mark Gasnier, (also previously name-dropped) was on hand at the game with a video production team to video the Flamin’ Galahs match. The footage will be used to start promoting the tri tag game to larger cities like Sydney and Brisbane.

With the McGrane Oval very wet underfoot and the cricket pitch area a quagmire - ball security, and handling were going to be very paramount in the game. The Flamin’ Galahs dominated play in the first quarter and hard-line running by captain Makaila Gordon, Stef Alchin, and Clem McIntosh allowed good yardage to be made and set the standard. Forward Chelsea Broom gets special mention for her hard running style that saw one or two Ewes hit the turf unfortunately during the game. Broome and Alchin led the forwards for the match and laid a solid foundation of gaining hard yards when it mattered.

Flamin Galah’s legal eagle rulebook wonder Paige Wilson was causing headaches straight away for the Walgett Ewes backline and kept them wondering for most of the match. It was Paige who came up with the first try and the Flamin Galahs went to the first quarter with a 5-0 lead.

In the second quarter, the defensive effort from the Flamin Galahs was solid, quick, and placed the Walgett Ewes under pressure constantly. Great defensive work by the ever-crafty half-back Sarah Chandler, new Casino signing Alanna Clark, and Tahnee Carr created pressure on the Walgett Ewes that led to continual turnovers to the Flamin Galahs. Through great teamwork, Paige Wilson was able to score her second try, and the conversion was successful. The Flamin Galahs held a handy 12-0 lead at half-time.

Into the third quarter half back Peta Bradley and flyhalf Caitlynn King provided good ball to the very capable and speedy backline centres of Heidi Ferguson, Lucy Irish and Sharna Steedman. Abigail Phillips was coming into her own by this point and making great runs and tags in defence. A sneaky kick-through by Walgett in the wet slippery conditions allowed them to score and at three-quarter time the score was 12-5 to the Flamin Galahs.

The Flamin Galahs could again smell blood in the water like they did back on that fateful day last September and began defending as though their lives depended on it. Ball security in the conditions became an issue and turnovers were a plenty as the pressure mounted and the minutes ticked towards full-time.

The wingers for the game Fiona Wright, Tegan Watt, Sharna Steedman and Abigail Donson remained resilient and made great defensive tags and placed pressure on the Ewes backline that saw time after time the Walgett Ewes drop the ball and hand it back to the Flamin Galahs.

Coach Zac Mills and fitness coach Greg King stood very nervously like the remainder of the Flamin Galah’s supporters on the sideline begging for the game clock to go faster to full-time and not to have a repeat of last year's heartbreaking grand final loss. The Flamin Galahs held their nerve, and the referee blew the full-time giving a historic and well-deserved win to the Flamin Galahs for the first time in history over the Walgett Ewes. Celebrations were aplenty and the Flamin Galahs belted out the team song on the field with gusto. Celebrations continued well into the night at the local sponsor's establishment The Railway Hotel. Points for the game were awarded as follows: Three points to boom running forward Chelsea Broom, two points to captain courageous Makaila Gordon and one point and players player to the ever-improving and hard-running Stef Alchin.

The Flamin’ Galahs have a fortnight to rest their feathers and will regather themselves when they swoop to Nyngan to take on their tritag side.

Now onto the men. Walgett flew out of the blocks with an early try, the pace of the game being a lot quicker than the Cobar game, but our boys soon adapted. Jack Bradley and Issaac ‘the axe’ Grimshaw kept shutting down the Walgett onslaught in the middle. Once again some lapses in concentration cost Gular dearly and Walgett took a 21-nil lead into the break.

The second half was one of the best defensive efforts by a Gular side in a few years with Gular repelling Walgett and winning it five-nil. It was great to see Grant Zell back in action, this 50-year-old brick wall with eyes, put in a fantastic effort in the mud for 60-minutes. He was backed up by the slightly younger but equally solid 38-year-old brick wall with eyes in Will Bowman.

As Gular grew more confident in defence, the Walgett side started to make several un-Walgett like errors. This opened the door for the Galahs with ball in hand, and some enterprising work down the left hand side from Jake Peart created a fantastic runaway try for Darcy Neeves.

With 15-minutes to go there was still time to make a game of it but Walgett being the well-drilled unit they are, closed the game out. Three points and players player went to Darcy Neeves, two points went to co-captain Jack Bradley, and one point went to Mitch Graham who continues to put in a consistent effort week to week.

Even though they didn’t get points, the Parrot enjoyed watching the Ferguson boys go about their work. Zac looks more comfortable at fly half and had some nice touches and well-placed kicks and Lachie is looking more comfortable at open side flanker each week.

Perhaps it’s the comfort of huddling in a small, confined area with seven other blokes on a regular basis that’s helping him bring out his best form much like it brought out the best in father Mark Ferguson in the mid to late 1990s. It was also good to see 38-year-old Shaun Ferguson have a run at inside centre.

Shaun’s experience would have been invaluable to our young backs and we look forward to seeing him have a few more games with us. Known among the Fergusons as ‘high-shot Shaun’, it’s unknown whether his yellow card for a high shot on Saturday was a technical error or a deliberate move to buy himself a 10-minute breather, but he looked very much at home at his old stomping ground of McGrane Oval.

Next week Gular have a bye where no doubt a few of the men’s and women’s players will be building up their energy reserves with a few dagwood dogs for the big clash over at Nyngan. Having produced two excellent games over the weekend it’s definitely worth the drive over to Nyngan to support the Galahs.


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