Match Day #1 saw us meet with mixed success against arch rivals Merewether Carlton. Though we didn’t win all grades on the day, each and every team showed great fight and at no stage did anyone give up. This is only the first week of the competition and I can promise that over the next few months supporters will see significant improvement from all our teams as new combinations get together and we start to get players back that are either overseas or coming to the club arrive and become 2017 Two Blues players.
The Colts started their season with a decent performance however the result at the end didn’t go our way. The coaching staff have worked hard in melding last years U17 Premiership players with those more experienced colts that played in last years Colts Grand Final. This will take time as the team learns new ways to play the game and the structures that have made our Club one of the most successful in the Zone. An important aspect for our U19’s is dedication to training and ensuring that their preparation is on point. It is disappointing to see that the growth of the U19 competition has not reached the heights hoped for by the NHRU. The majority of Premier Clubs are not represented in this competition which of course is of concern when you consider the importance of promoting juniors and young players into the senior grades. We are already looking towards our U19 squad for the 2018 and have started to put in place arrangements that will assure us of this pathway for players in the future.
Our Premier 3 Grade suffered greatly due to the number of new players that turned out for the Two Blues and the need for these players to develop both combinations and fitness. To have to face up to a very strong Greens team was a huge task and so it turned out with us suffering a 7-50 loss. This team is sure to improve quickly as team training is conducted that focus the players on structures and team play.
The real surprise of the day was the great performance of our Premier 2 team. The Greens team in this grade has been the pace-setters for some time and were outstanding in 2016 as they cruised to the Premiership. A very much new look team faced up to the awesome task of matching it with the Greens and not only did they succeed in their task but were probably the better team on the day. A close 0-5 loss was a heartbreaker for the new look team but they all took a great deal of positives out of the close loss and the lessons learnt are sure to hold the side in good stead for the remainder of the season. Look out for good things from these guys throughout the year.
Our Premier 1 team faced up to the Greens challenge with 5 debutants in the starting lineup. It has been a number of years since we have started so many new players in the first round of the competition and although those close to the team were confident that we could get the job done there didn’t seem to be too many others out there who shared the same view. Although far from perfect the Two Blues were still too good for the Greens and recorded a strong 19-10 victory, scoring two tries to one. Both sides were very rusty in aspects of their execution however we were deserved winners and probably should have won by a few more. Securing the win was the main goal as Merewether are one of the top teams in the competition and any victory against them is going to be very hard earned. There were a number of strong performers on the day, not least of all our two props Leeland Marshal and Simon Yanis who played the full 80 minutes and were strong in the scrum that didn’t budge all day. Our backrow of Eymael, Ham and Felix proved themselves as potentially the most effective in the competition with their workrate and impact on the breakdown. Tim Marsh created a great try for Luke Simmons and should have scored one himself if it wasn’t for a poor referees decision that robbed him of a spectacular 80m effort. Cal McDonald was strong as well.
This week we play the vastly improved Singleton Bulls at home. The Bulls have built up well in the off season and again we are going to need to be on task if we are to take the points. I would encourage all supporters to get down to No 2 on Saturday afternoon and cheer the boys on. It promises to be a huge day of Rugby with the 19’s starting at 11am against the Gropers. Four big games and great entertainment for all our fans.
The Player Points System continues to confuse and frustrate players, coaches and fans alike. There are a number of ideas doing the rounds that would see the PPS work better towards its goal, that is, to even up the competition. The best idea has been promoted by the Greens and one which we support, that is, that clubs are rewarded for producing juniors that move into First and Second Grade. Rather than just allocating them 0 points, the same as an import player that has been at the club for three years, why not give these players a deduction of minus 1 or minus 2 points. This would not only promote Juniors into the senior grades but would reward those clubs that resource and pay attention to Junior development. There are lots of ideas that are floating around, ideas that the NHRU should investigate to ensure equity for all clubs and that Clubs are producing realistic pathways for Junior players. On the same topic, the NHRU recently held an Open Forum that discussed the development of the game, how the Schools System were not invited to attend is certainly beyond me. The NHRU needs to recognise that Schools Rugby, for long the breeding ground for club Rugby is currently in crisis and unless something is done straight away the game is in danger of disappearing from our schools. Where then would the game be?
Remember that four big games of Rugby will be played Saturday. see all of the Two Blues teams in action at the home of Rugby. It would be great to see everyone there!