Big-bodied Blacks unleash on Aggies

Rugby union

IT was men against boys on Saturday as the Griffith Blacks finally got their SIRU season going with a commanding 42-29 demolition of Ag College in Wagga.

A week on from a disappointing first round washout, the Blacks unleashed a week of pent-up frustration on an unsuspecting Aggies outfit, cruising to an easy victory at Beres Ellwood Oval.

The club's new faces led the way with former Fijian international Marika Vunibaka and New Zealand import Daniel Dowson among the best on the field, both using their considerable size to Griffith's advantage.

"We've got a fairly decent-sized forward pack and they were just too strong," president Clint Robertson said.

"Ag College look very fit but they just didn't have the physicality to compete with us.

"It's just good to see our guys so strong around the ball in attack and defence."

With a number of first-graders including Michael Stalley, Chris Latu and Solomon Fili still missing, the big-bodied Blacks took control early and didn't take their foot off the pedal until the game was already iced in the second half.

Robertson was delighted with skipper Dowson's "amazing" work around the ruck and Vunibaka's sheer presence around the ball, which put the fear of god into Aggies.

"Their blokes would be 80-85kg ringing wet running up against guys like Marika," he said.

"Every time their outside centre looked up he'd see Marika and do a chip over the top instead of running into him - because the first two times he just got smashed."

Vunibaka was joined by another ex-Fiji international, Dan Rawaqa, who made a surprise Griffith debut on Saturday.

Not expected to return from a broken nose until after Easter, the Shute Shield star pulled on the boots after the Blacks were a few numbers short upon arrival in Wagga.

Starting in second grade, Rawaqa scored every one of Griffith's points in their 23-19 win before coming off the bench for the seniors and showing flashes of his undeniable class.

"Him and Marika just toyed with them, really," Robertson said.

"Vaea Mateo and Johnny Brown just ran an absolute riot following those two around the field into open space."

Tino Kaue and Nick Gleeson were also impressive for the Blacks, with the only sour point from the day Griffith's performance after half-time.

Taking a 22-3 lead into the break, Ag College restored some respectability to the scoreboard with four unanswered tries - a turn of events that Robertson said was purely down to fitness, or lack thereof.

"For the first 80-minute game for the year, we'll cop that," he said.

Robertson said the result was indicative of the positive influence new coach Seru Rogo has had on the playing group.

"Seru's got a very calming influence on the blokes. He's not a coach that goes crazy at half-time if things aren't going right," he said.

"All the boys really sit up and listen when he speaks and he's doing a wonderful job with his quiet, simple approach to it all."

Griffith's women's sevens side also had a big win, smashing Ag College 36-5 earlier in the day.

Aggies actually scored the first try of the match but it was all one-way traffic from then on.

"Ag College just couldn't match it with our girls, they smashed them off the field," Robertson.

The Blacks return to action after Easter with a home clash against Leeton at the Coro Club.

STILL GOT IT: Former Fiji international Marika Vunibaka was one of Griffith's best on Saturday against Ag College.

STILL GOT IT: Former Fiji international Marika Vunibaka was one of Griffith's best on Saturday against Ag College.


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