Group 20 rugby league
THE days of Griffith's two rugby league sides wallowing in their own ineptitude at the bottom of the Group 20 ladder are in the past.
That is, at least, the hope after an encouraging Paul Kelly Memorial Shield preliminary round at Wade Park in Yenda yesterday for the local clubs.
The Black and Whites are through to this Saturday's finals after winning both their games, and will fight it out for the pre-season title with reigning premiers Tullibigeal-Lakes United, Hay and the Yenda Blueheelers.
The David Milne-coached side ran out convincing 22-6 winners over Darlington Point-Coleambally before finishing off with a terrific 18-12 victory against minor premiers Leeton.
Star halfback Stephen Broome scored all three tries in the Greens win and earned special praise from his new coach, who spoke to The Area News after the final whistle.
"Broomey is unbelievable. He's top class," Milne said.
"He'll be good for us all year.
"I was pretty impressed with us against Leeton.
"They had all the ball for the first 10 minutes and we came back from that and defended well.
"I wasn't expecting much out of (the knockout) but it's turned out really well."
And it has left Milne more confident than ever that the reigning Group 20 wooden spooners will put a dismal 12 months behind them and be truly competitive in 2014.
"Last year they had no players," he said.
"You get the players there, all gelling together, they become good mates and it's hard to beat a side that's full of good mates that work for each other.
"That's what we're looking to do. We were enthusiastic, we were fast, we were good enough.
"Everything we're working on is starting to come together. It's looking like we're going to be alright."
Milne lined up at fullback for the Black and Whites in their first game but sat out the second match as he changed the side's entire backline.
He said he is over the moon with the club's newfound depth, which also extends to their now-impressive forward pack.
"The new Kiwi boys were standing up but it wasn't just them either," he said.
"We've got a lot there, and a fair bit of depth through the whole side.
"It's going to be hard to pick a team, which is a good headache to have."
The news was just as good for the Waratah Tigers despite losing their first match 12-4 to an understrength Bidgee Hurricanes.
The 'Tahs dusted themselves off and provided arguably the shock of the day, drawing 10-10 with premiers TLU but taking the win by virtue of scoring the first try.
"It was a pretty low-scoring game but it was a really good effort," Waratahs captain-coach Kose Lelei said.
"(TLU) still had a few players there on the team last year but the boys defended well.
"In the second game we had our numbers back and a few on the bench and it was a lot better."
New fullback Johnny Teleaga, who arrived last week from New Zealand, was the find of the tournament for the Waratahs and "killed it" according to Lelei.
Teleaga scored both the team's tries in the win over the Sharks, while one-time wantaway star Viliami Ngu also lined up for the 10-time premiers.
The Blueheelers are also cheering after trouncing a depleted West Wyalong 29-4 and then holding off a gallant Hay outfit 16-14.
With a number of key players - including co-coach Kodie Charles, Steve Richards, William Hannon and Geff Cook - sidelined, Yenda showed signs that they are more than capable of improving on last year's disappointing finish to the season.
"Considering the players we had in there and the amount of new combinations, it was a good effort," co-coach Roy Romeo said.
"There's heaps of positives to come out of it but there's still a lot we've got to work on before the season.
"The boys showed a lot of character."
Romeo said new signing Josh Curphey was the standout and steered the Dogs around well from five-eighth - a problem position for the side after the departure of Shannon Rupapere and David Rauluni.
"He's going to be very important to us," he said.
Bidgee Hurricanes 12 (Tries: Troy Preston, Travis Lightfood. Goals: Garry Ingram 2) defeated Waratah Tigers 4 (Try: Lepa Kupo)
Leeton 10 (Tries: Ben Evans, Sam Eisenhut. Goal: Clinton Green) defeated Darlington Point-Coleambally 10 (Tries: Shaun Gras, Jack Robb. Goal: Jack Robb) on first try
Hay 24 (Tries: Jake Whitehead, JC Sagoe, Toby Whitehead, Ben Taylor. Goals: Mitch Rosser 4) defeated West Wyalong 10 (Tries: Jeremy Wood, Matt Nicholson. Goals: Mitch Pettit)
Waratah Tigers 10 (Tries: Johnny Teleaga 2. Goal: Kose Lelei) defeated Tullibigeal-Lakes United 10 (Tries: Michael Mogliotti, Jaden Kelly. Goal: Jaden Kelly) on first try
Black and Whites 22 (Tries: David Uasila'a, Joshua Charles, Kelvin Simpson, Troy Johnson. Goals: Kierren Williams 3) defeated Darlington Point-Coleambally 6 (Try: Billy Robb. Goal: Daniel Brady)
Yenda 29 (Tries: Apisai Loaloadravu, Josh Bryant, Tomasi Caqusau, Tamateti Miratana, Josh Curphey. Goals: Josh Curphey 4. Field Goal: Domenic Richbell-Tekira) defeated West Wyalong 4 (Try: Jeremy Wood)
Tullibigeal-Lakes United 22 (Tries: Jaden Kelly 2, Matt Pike, Jock Potter. Goals: Jaden Kelly 3) defeated Bidgee Hurricanes 12 (Tries: Daniel Johnson, Stephen Matthews. Goals: Gary Ingram)
Black and Whites 18 (Tries Stephen Broome 2. Goals: Stephen Broome 2, Josh Charles) defeated Leeton 12 (Tries: Dean Pouging, Andrew Lavaka. Goals: Clinton Green 2)
Yenda 16 (Tries: Tevita Make, Josh Bryant, Josh Curphey. Goals: Josh Curphey 2) defeated Hay 14 (Tries: Shayne Kennedy, Max Edwards. Goals: Mitch Rosser 3)