Gwydir League first grade made it six wins from the last six outings with a 52-12 defeat of the plucky Ashford Roosters.
Played at Gwydir Oval, Ashford defied their position on the ladder to make the home side earn every point. Nothing came easy and while Gwydir was a bit rusty in attack after not playing for three weeks, their defence was as good as ever. In the lower grades the Ashford Chookettes defeated the gallant Gwydir girls 30-4 and Mick Wade’s reserves made it seven wins from nine games with a tough 34-26 victory.
Melissa Molloy, a speedster in earlier years, showed that she still had it to score Gwydir’s lone try in the league tag game. Molloy also received two best and fairest points from the referee. While everyone gave 100%, the important thing is that the girls never gave up and they are gradually improving and a win is not that far away.
The reserve grade was a top match with Ashford seemingly having the game within their grasp as they led 14-10 at half time before Gwydir got their game going in the mid section of the second half. In fact they were well in control for most of the last 15 minutes before Ashford scored some late points. Try scorers were, Brayden McGrady (2), Rocky Hall (4) and Jay Fletcher, back from injury, (1). Hall kicked 3 goals and again illustrated his importance to the team both in defence and attack.
When one considers that the firsts start with 16 fresh players, the success of reserves is a great indication of the depth of talent available and the bonding that the coaches have achieved. Joint player’s players were Hall and McGrady. Sam Cooper received 3 points from the referee and Mark Sankey 1
The first grade kicked off in very cold conditions in front of a large crowd and it proved to be a very exciting affair. First Ashford led (0- 4), until Sam Armstrong scored for Gwydir (4-4), then the Roosters in front again (4-8 and (4-12). However Gwydir started to get a bit more ball and tries to Mick Hodges, a second for Armstrong, made it 16-12 including two conversions by Todd Simpson. Thereafter followed long periods of the traditional arm wrestles until Ashford started to fade and this was enough for Gwydir to go up a few gears with tries to Ashley Churchland, Harold Duncan (2), Nathan McGrady, Brendon Critchlow, Jayden Fields and Mark Sankey. Simpson finished with 6 goals in fairly tricky conditions. The final score of 52-12 did not truly reflect the gutsy performance by both teams.
Player’s player was front rower Steve Garrett, the referee gave 3 points to his front row partner,” Tank” Critchlow and Mitch Porter got one. In a magnificent display of Club pride, Porter and Mat Cleal made the effort to back up after playing at Newcastle the night before in the Regional Championships. Next week Gwydir travels to Moree to take on the Rangs in a game that will test whether they are up with the best in the Group or simply indicate that more work is needed for the run down to the semi finals. The match will be a ripper for the fans and well worth the trip.
The winning double was 4 and 9 and the dinner for two at the Imperial Hotel Motel was green ticket C24 In other first grade matches Moree d Inverell 50-6, Glen Innes d Armidale 72-10, in Reserves, Uralla d Tingha 36-26, Moree d Inverell 60- 10, Armidale d Glen Innes 42-14, in league Tag Uralla d Tingha 28- 4, Moree drew with Inverell 22 all, Glen Innes d Armidale 24-10 Table (Firsts) Moree 18, Glen 18, Gwydir 16, Tingha, Armidale, Inverell (all) 10, Ashford 4. (Reserves) Moree 18, Gwydir 14, Armidale 11, Tingha 10, Glen 10, Inverell 4, Uralla 3, Ashford 2, (League Tag) Glen 16, Uralla 16, Tingha 10, Moree 9, Inverell 8, Armidale 7, Ashford 4, Gwydir 2.