Monaro’s tough grind

HARD MATCH: Monaro scrumhalf Aiden Greaves was forced to do plenty of defence. Photo: Les Smith. SATURDAY: Southern Inland 48 bt Monaro20.
Nanjing Night Net

SUNDAY: Monaro 53 bt Far South Coast 26.

DEFENDING their crown like sword wielding knights, Southern Inland Rugby Union produced a spectacular performance to account for arch rival Monaro – a team including Dirty Reds Boyd Newby, Aiden Greaves, Mikael Webber, Simon Hegarty, Matt Bird and Peter Altona – at Connolly Rugby Complex in Wagga on Saturday.

With successive Brumbies Provincial Tournament titles in mind, SIRU vice-captain Xavier Chigwidden led the troops to a high quality 48-20 tirade over Monaro in Saturday’s opening round.

While many of the aforementioned sextet’s teammates put their feet up over the long weekend, the representative players themselves were exerting energy at the high quality carnival. Saturday’s match was immensely difficult for the Dirty Reds on duty and their Monaro teammates.

A perfect boot with six conversions, a drop goal and penalty goal under his belt, Chigwidden opened SIRU’s account with a sensational charge-down try from kick off to set the tone for the following 79 minutes.

“Xavier’s try in the first minute started it all, I think we did a lot of damage in that first 20 minutes,” said SIRU coach Mick McTaggart.

“He was easily the most dynamic player on the field, we just gave him the freedom to do what he does and that’s what he needs.

“Not one had a bad game, it was hard not to be impressed with a performance like that.”

Stumping Monaro for any possession with a seamless opening, SIRU’s mistake free opening paved the way for dominance as confidence grew.

Defending out of its own territory for most of the first half, Monaro barely caught a break before finally cracking the SIRU line in the 33rd minute for the first of four unconverted tries.

Heading to the break, down 20-5, Monaro regathered its composure and looked to ignite a come-back with another try straight after the break. However, Monaro’s three second half tries were answered every time as Mitch Fealy, Richard Lamont, James Daley and James Whiteley punched through the tiring defence to seal the deal.

“I think Monaro must have thought, ‘wow, when are they going to make a mistake’,” McTaggart said.

“Those opening 20 minutes really took its toll physically on the Monaro boys and that reflected in the final 20 minutes.

“They were gasping. Monaro weren’t a bad side, we just had a lot of speed off the line in defence and they kept being met and met solidly.

“We knew Monaro would want to be pretty good if we played to our best, but that was one of the best Southern Inland rep performances we’ve had in a very long time.”

Fullback Bart Whitley, centres Zac Davidson and Hamish Wrafter and forward Will Reynolds were outstanding for SIRU, while Monaro’s centre Junior Malcasiale, hooker Adam Stevens and wingers Aaron Williams and Matt Caldwell were tireless.

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