Six Group 20 players receive Riverina rep nods

CRUNCH TIME: Group Nine's Daniel Fitzhenry is tackled by Group 20 prop Tom Sellars and fullback BJ Kerry on Saturday. Sellars is one of six Razorbacks to have earned a spot in the Riverina side, which will be coached by Fitzhenry at the CRL Country Championships later this month. Picture: The Daily Advertiser

CRUNCH TIME: Group Nine's Daniel Fitzhenry is tackled by Group 20 prop Tom Sellars and fullback BJ Kerry on Saturday. Sellars is one of six Razorbacks to have earned a spot in the Riverina side, which will be coached by Fitzhenry at the CRL Country Championships later this month. Picture: The Daily Advertiser

Group 20 rugby league

SIX players from Group 20 have earned Riverina representative honours after starring in Saturday’s disappointing Maurice Kelly Cup loss to Group Nine in Wagga.

Waratahs sensation Johnny Teleaga, Yenda’s Josh Bryant and Tom Sellars, TLU’s Jaden Kelly and Trenton King and West Wyalong prop Jeremy Wood have been named in the squad for the CRL Country Championships later this month.

But Razorbacks coach Rohan Loudon told The Area News selectors should have found room for more Group 20 players in the Riverina’s long-awaited return to the regional stage - especially big Michael Ioapo, who came off the bench to score three powerful tries.

“He’s just a beast, he’s hard to handle,” Loudon said.

“I think he scored one off a tap, and that’s a big effort in a rep game, to run over the top of blokes - especially a good side like Group Nine.

“But they wouldn’t have picked him because he’s not fit, probably - but look at George Rose, that’s what he does for the Storm.

“That’s what you’d want him for, because he’s a man mountain. I couldn’t work that out.”

Despite the 44-28 scoreline, Loudon claimed the likes of Brent Pike, Craig Iverach and brothers Kose and Moahoni Lelei were also stiff to have missed the cut for the Riverina side.

But Razorbacks coach Rohan Loudon told The Area News selectors should have found room for more Group 20 players in the Riverina’s long-awaited return to the regional stage - especially big Michael Ioapo, who came off the bench to score three powerful tries.

“He’s just a beast, he’s hard to handle,” Loudon said.

“I think he scored one off a tap, and that’s a big effort in a rep game, to run over the top of blokes - especially a good side like Group Nine.

“But they wouldn’t have picked him because he’s not fit, probably - but look at George Rose, that’s what he does for the Storm.

“That’s what you’d want him for, because he’s a man mountain. I couldn’t work that out.”

Despite the 44-28 scoreline, Loudon claimed the likes of Brent Pike, Craig Iverach and brothers Kose and Moahoni Lelei were also stiff to have missed the cut for the Riverina side.

Group 20 started brightly and scored the game’s first try through front-rower Wood, who Loudon said turned in a best-on-ground performance, before the Group Nine Gladiators hit their straps to comfortably retain the Kelly Cup at the Wagga Equex Centre.

Assisted by a lopsided penalty count and two bad Group 20 mistakes, the Gladiators had all the possession and piled on four consecutive tries to storm to an unassailable 38-10 lead at half-time.

Loudon knew the Razorbacks would have trouble adjusting to the quicker ruck speed of Group Nine but said the referees didn’t make it any easier by repeatedly - and unfairly - stinging Group 20 for hand on the ball.

“Group Nine were doing it and getting away with it, getting piggybacked down the field and all we did was tackle for about 20 minutes,” Loudon said.

“Obviously you should learn pretty quickly at that level but we were penalised four times in a row for the same thing.

“It was hand on the ball when they were on the ground, everyone does that. But when they were standing up it wasn’t there, but that’s what he was penalising.

“I’m not sure if it didn’t register with our blokes or what, but it could have been a different game.

“They were no better than us by any means - they just had more ball.”

Group 20 clawed back into the match to outscore Group Nine by 12 points in the second half but by then it was too little, too late.

Ioapo sealed his hat-trick with the last try of the game while Bryant scored the Razorbacks’ other four-pointer just before half-time.

Loudon said on another day, it could have been very a different result.

“I thought we were unlucky not to get a couple more in and very unlucky not to have gone closer,” he said.

“All our forwards were pretty good and more than matched theirs.

“We started well, we scored first and did everything right in the first 10 minutes but we dropped the ball twice and it went away from us from there.”

Riverina will be helmed by victorious Group Nine coach Daniel Fitzhenry and will take on Northern Rivers on May 31 in Singleton.


GROUP NINE 44 (Tries: Jack Hetherington 3, Peter Little 3, Ben Jeffery, Matt Sauni. Goals: Ben Jeffery 4, Willie Heta 2) defeated GROUP 20 28 (Tries: Michael Ioapo 3, Josh Bryant, Jeremy Woods. Goals: Jaden Kelly 4)

RIVERINA SQUAD: Luke Berkery (Cootamundra), Josh Bryant (Yenda), Mitch Davis (Albury), Daniel Fitzhenry (South City), Lou Goodwin (Albury), Jack Hetherington (Young), Ben Jeffery (Albury), Jaden Kelly (TLU), Trenton King (TLU), Peter Little (South City), Scott Matthews (Temora), Rulon Nutira (Gundagai), Nathan Rose (South City), Matt Sauni (Gundagai), Tom Sellars (Yenda), Nick Skinner (South City), Johnny Teleaga (Waratahs), Jeremy Wood (West Wyalong).​


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