A try feast for dominant Tigers as the season kicks off

HARD YAKKA: Luke Christie-Johnston was one of a number of forwards who dominated the middle of the field against the Lithgow Bears. Photo: FILE
HARD YAKKA: Luke Christie-Johnston was one of a number of forwards who dominated the middle of the field against the Lithgow Bears. Photo: FILE

FOOTY returned for rugby league-obsessed Oberon last Saturday on a picture-perfect day at the Tony Luchetti Sportsground against Lithgow Bears.

The Tigers kicked off their 2020 campaign with dominant wins in both grades, the league tag side winning 32-12 and the men's open side 74-0.

In a year thrown into chaos by the COVID-19 pandemic, and with enough already written about the incredible challenges facing the NSWRL and the Group 10 board, Oberon's Dallas Booth and Shan Foley were quietly going about their way, gathering a committed group of local men and women to represent our proud town in the Wallerawang Landscape Cup.

MEN'S

THE men's team could not have been more impressive, running in 13 tries and with their goal kicker, Jake Foley, bang on target, missing only two attempts.

The game was played in quarters to accommodate COVID-19 safety protocols to allow drink breaks.

The first quarter saw a very willing Lithgow outfit playing a physical style of football. It wasn't until the final few minutes that Oberon, through Jamie Arriola and Caylib Marston, were able to post two tries to break the arm-wrestle and take a 10-0 lead into drinks.

The Bears certainly weren't holding back and they sought out big Ty Simmonds for some special attention. The big Oberon running forward happily responded by upping the ante with controlled aggression.

The Lithgow outfit were further tested by the seasoned Dave Sellers and last year's find, Daniel Rodgers, coming off the bench.

Sellers made an immediate impact as he drove over from close range to extend the scoreline to 16-0 early into the second quarter. Not long after, Rodgers made one of his signature charges, smashing into defenders.

Lochie Gilmore was quick to take advantage of the momentum and sent Marston over for his double. Foley converted to take the scoreline out to 22-0 and the Bears visibly dropped their shoulders.

The early intensity from both teams now shifted as the Tigers increased the tempo, having the luxury of such a strong bench. With black and gold jerseys tearing holes in the Lithgow defence at will, it was Gilmore who bagged a well-deserved try just before the half-time break to extend the lead to 28-0.

Things didn't improve for the brave bears as Arriola started the second with a 60-metre burst to have Oberon straight back on the attack.

Simmonds and Rodgers were rattling the Bears, with a charge from Simmonds resulting in the hulking second-rower lofting an overhead pass to Ryan Thompson to post another four-pointer.

Adding to the Bears' woes, the old firm of Luke Christie-Johnston, Nathan Booth and Sellers were running straight and hard, dominating the middle of the field. With the wily Marston quick off their backs, it wasn't long before Zane Rowlandson popped off Marston's shoulder to stretch the scoreline to 38-0.

By now, the only time that the Bears ventured onto the Tigers' half was through a restart of play.

With the Tigers in full control, Marston completed his hat-trick of tries through a trademark jinking run, and Ray Sargent was rewarded for a busy performance with his first try for the season.

At 50-0 and the clock winding down, the Tigers weren't in the mood to show any mercy, Rowlandson and Arriola both crossing again for their doubles.

Simmonds wasn't about to be left out of the try-fest as he used his brute strength to post his own double in the dying minutes to cap the final scoreline at 74-0.

Caylib Marston was voted players' player and best and fairest, with Lochie Gilmore and Nathan Booth also polling points.

LEAGUE TAG

SHANNON Foley and Lourie Bailey have done a remarkable job in bringing together a team of women who are enthusiastic, energetic and share a special bond.

With a relatively young age, they took on a much more experienced Lithgow side, but that didn't stop Georgia Rich opening the scoring and becoming the first point scorer for the Tigers in 2020.

Not only that, but she converted her own try to take the visitors to a 6-0 lead.

This seemed to spur the girls on as Bailey took control of the game, making inroads into the Bears' defensive line.

However, against the run of play, the home side struck back to narrow the gap to 6-4.

Captain/coach Shan Foley soon steadied the ship as she spotted an overlap out wide and lofted a ball to the very sharp Renee Newstead to score just inside the white line. With a difficult conversion attempt, the scoreline remained 10-4.

As Bailey continued to shred the defence, the much-improved Bethany Wilkinson showed great speed to outpace the defence in a 50-metre foot-race to score in the shadows of the first drinks break.

Resuming with a 14-4 lead, Newstead moved into centre-field and made an immediate impact, testing the defence with great footwork and sublime passing skills. Bailey took advantage of the momentum and scored a great try before the Bears could recover.

The Bears fought back, however, and found an overlap out wide to edge closer to the Tigers, 18-8. They continued their comeback fight and were again next to score through one of the fastest players in league tag racing untouched to give them some hope at 18-12, just before half-time.

Once again it was the captain Foley who used a short pass to find the popular Bec Fletcher running off her hip to score in the corner to ease the pressure at 22-12.

Molly Rose Stiff and Bethany Wilkinson put the result out of doubt with two excellent, well-deserved tries, with a Foley conversion ending the result at 32-12 for a morale-boosting victory.

Players' player went to Georgia Rich and best and fairest went to the hard-working Jade Taggart. Lourie Bailey and Bec Fletcher also picked up points.

COVID-19 SAFE

THE Tigers host Orange Barbarians this Saturday. League tag will commence at 1.30pm.

Strict 'return to footy' rules apply and all spectators are to sign a register at the gate. Entry is $5 and 'sign-in stations' must be used before further access is allowed.

Strict social distancing rules will apply (1.5 metres), and the NSWRL has put a maximum limit of 500 attendees per venue, including players and officials.

Patrons of the Leagues Club are to park in the Leagues Club designated parking area in front of the club and members must sign-in. Non-club patrons are not to use this space and will be required to park either on the grassy knoll to the south, along the western and northern fence or the car park adjacent to the dressing sheds.

A maximum of 45 members are allowed inside the club at any one given time. At the time of writing, the canteen will probably not be available. Toilet facilities will be the council amenity block near the front gate.

See you at the game. Go the Tiges!