Group 20 rugby league
WAGGA outfit Southcity Bulls might have taken out the 2013 edition of the West Wyalong Knockout but it was two sides from Group 20 who stole the show.
The Bidgee Hurricanes and Tullibigeal-Lakes United both confounded pre-tournament predictions to upset the apple cart and blitz into the semi-finals with slick, polished performances.
At one stage, an all-Group 20 final looked like a genuine chance – but the ‘Canes fell to eventual winners Southcity 12-4 while the Sharks were outclassed 12-0 by Woden Valley.
However, Bidgee boss Chris Bamford believes the weekend did wonders not only for his side, but the reputation of the group across bush footy.
“For two teams to make the semis when we only had four in there is pretty good,” he said.
Led by Bamford and recruits Sean Scott and Kye Longford, who worked together seamlessly in the halves, the Hurricanes produced the upset of the knockout by stunning heavyweights Orange CYMS in their first game before toppling Wagga Brothers in the quarter-finals.
“Everyone doubted us. People were saying we wouldn’t beat Orange but we sorted them out straight away,” Bamford said.
“There were even kids asking us where we were from, because we’ve only been around for two years.
“Now people aren’t going to take us lightly in the next knockout. We’re very happy and I’m proud of the boys, we’ve done well.”
TLU skipper Jaden Kelly was also in a dangerous mood and was hugely influentual in his side’s wins over the Blayney Bears and Cowra Magpies.
Bamford said his side couldn’t wait for the start of the coming Group 20 season, which is widely expected to be one of the most even and highest-quality campaigns in years.
“I knew we’ve got a good side but I wasn’t expecting to be looking this good this early,” he said.
“We’re all just looking forward to when the season actually starts because we’re off to a flyer.”
The other two Group 20 sides in the competition – Darlington Point-Coleambally and hosts West Wyalong – were tumbled out in the first round of matches on Friday night.
First round – Friday, February 22
Temora Dragons 22 (tries: Smith 2, Kerry, Matthews, goals: Smith 3) d Forbes Magpies 4 (try: Bourke)
Tullibigeal Lakes United 16 (tries: Kelly, Clark, Judd, goals: Kelly 2) d Blayney Bears 6 (try: Monaghan, goal: Nixon)
Southcity Bulls 22 (tries: Curran, Little, Manawatu, Morris, goals: Manawatu 3) d Darlington Point-Coleambally 10 (tries: Dalby, Robb, goal: Hopwood)
Wagga Brothers 12 (tries: Niulia, Hai Hai, goals: Wilson 2) d West Belconnen 6 (try: Denny, goal: Graham)
Queanbeyan Kangaroos 8 (tries: Gordon, Atkinson) d West Wyalong 4 (try: Iverach)
Bidgee Hurricanes 12 (tries: Scott, Hyde, goals: Ingram 2) d Orange CYMS 4 (try: Piper)
Woden Valley 12 (tries: Maifelemi, Roberts, goals: Katene 2) d Cootamundra Bulldogs 0
Cowra Magpies 26 (tries: Rainbow 2, Wood, Lawrence, Hilton, goals:
Rainbow 3) d Tumbarumba Greens 6 (try: Bavadva, goal: Hammond)
Quarter-finals – Saturday, February 23
Bidgee Hurricanes 10 (tries: Hyde, Newton, goal: Ingham) d Wagga Brothers 0
Southcity Bulls 8 (try: Hubbard, goals: Manawatu 2) d Temora Dragons 0
Woden Valley 4 (try: Foley) d Queanbeyan Kangaroos 4 (try: Byatt) (countback)
Tullibigeal Lakes United 12 (tries: Fisher, O’Neill, goals: Kelly 2) d Cowra Magpies 10 (tries: Rainbow, Mana, goal: Rainbow)
Semi-finals – Saturday, February 23
Southcity Bulls 12 (tries: Shepherd, Lyons, goals: Manawatu 2) d Bidgee Hurricanes 4 (try: Newton)
Woden Valley 10 (tries: Taka, Roberts, goal: Smith) d Tullibigeal Lakes United 0
Final – Saturday, February 23
Southcity Bulls 14 (tries: Manawatu, Merrit, Little, goal: Manawatu) d Woden Valley 0