Group 20 rugby league
TULLIBIGEAL-Lakes United is eyeing off back-to-back Group 20 premierships after blowing away the field at the Paul Kelly Memorial Shield finals at EW Moore Oval on Saturday.
The Sharks tore apart a disappointing Yenda 18-0 in their semi-final and then outclassed an improving Hay Magpies outfit 18-4 in the pre-season decider.
Captain-coach and reigning Group 20 player of the year Brent Pike, who scored two tries in the final, told The Area News his team is on track to give this season another almighty shake.
“We were premiership favourites anyway, but to come out and put a performance in like we did was very pleasing,” he said.
“I didn’t think the boys were keen – they were a bit flat at training.
“But obviously, come gameday, they perk up and know what they have to do.
“To win a title six months ago and then come back and take out the pre-season trophy, it’s a good effort.”
And in an ominous warning for the rest of Group 20, it’s likely that Lakes will only get better from here.
Still missing new recruit Chris Jordan and premiership players Nathan Morris and Tim Ring on Saturday, an experimental Sharks outfit was far too good for the Blueheelers and held off a gallant Hay side with ease.
Playmaker Jaden Kelly had his kicking boots on, nailing six out of six conversions on the day, but pulled on the unfamilar No.9 jersey to fill in for Morris.
Pike also played winger Alex Ronayne at fullback while prop Trenton King shook off a shoulder injury that kept him out of last weekend’s preliminary round at Yenda to take his place in the forward pack.
“We had to roll the dice and fortunately things went our way,” the captain-coach said.
Kelly, Pike and Brayden Davis were the tryscorers in TLU’s shutout of Yenda, which Blueheelers boss Roy Romeo said was a stark reminder of what is require to compete with the best in Group 20.
“If you don’t show up with the right attitude you’ll get beaten every week,” he said.
“Our warm-up wasn’t the best –they were just a bit flat, I don’t know why.
“I’m not going to harp on about it, we took it seriously, but we did meet a good side.
“Lakes are the benchmark and they’ll be hard to beat again.
“They show up every week and play the football they need to.
“They know how to win the big games.
“We had a few out but it was a good enough side to perform better than what we did.
“But we’ll get there, slowly. We’re still a work in progress.”
Yenda peppered TLU’s line for the opening five minutes but couldn’t find a way through and were duly punished.
“The score didn’t reflect the game,” Pike said.
“It was physical, but credit to my boys, we stuck to the pattern, got numbers in our defence and ended up cracking Yenda open.”
Pike watched on as Hay took on the Griffith Black and Whites in an evenly-matched semi-final, which went to the Magpies by a 10-4 margin.
New signing Ben Taylor and winger Toby Whitehead went over for the Magpies as Stephen
Broome continued his cracking form from last week, scoring Griffith’s only try.
But Hay was still no match for the Sharks, who took the lead early in the final and never looked likely to be headed.
Pike’s brother Matt scored TLU’s other try while English recruit Kurtis Jackson touched down
for Hay in the club’s first ever Paul Kelly Memorial Shield final appearance.
“I said on the night that it’s full credit to Hay for getting them from where they were two years ago to where they are now,” Pike said.
“To go from not winning a game or only one or two a year to getting into the grand final of the pre-season knockout is unreal.
“They’ve got some quality players there so it’s probably a matter of hitting the paddock and getting things right.
“They dropped a few balls and didn’t complete enough sets – we completed ours, and that was the only difference.
“They’ll be a finals contender. If they can travel, that’s the main thing – they’ve been known not to travel well over the last few years.
“But the Black and Whites looked all right too.
“It’s been a while since (Griffith) has been in the finals but I daresay both those sides will be up there.”
Hay 10 (Tries: Ben Taylor, Toby Whitehead. Goal: Mitch Rosser) defeated Black and Whites 4 (Try: Stephen Broome)
Tullibigeal-Lakes United 18 (Tries: Jaden Kelly, Brent Pike, Brayden Davis. Goals: Jaden Kelly 3) defeated Yenda 0
Tullibigeal-Lakes United 18 (Tries: Brent Pike 2, Matt Pike. Goals: Jaden Kelly) defeated Hay 4 (Try: Kurtis Jackson)