WESTERN was denied a win from its two games on day one of the New South Wales Combined High Schools Carnival but are expecting a better result in their game this morning.
A bigger Sydney South West dominated possession and took advantage of some ordinary handling by Western to win the first game 36-5; then after being down 19-0 at half-time Western played their best football but finished on the wrong side of the ledger 19-7 against Sydney North East.
Twelve teams from throughout the state are at Apex Oval in Dubbo for the carnival that will wind down with finals tomorrow and the announcement of NSW CHS 1st and 2nd teams; as well as a NSW CHS Under-16s team.
Two local boys in the Western side - flanker Rohan Kopp from Peak Hill Central and Wellington High’s Bradley Collins (five-eighth) - both had outstanding games in game two.
Flying Sydney right winger Erik Rodgers twice looked certain to score in the second half but was mowed down with superb cover tackles - firstly from Kopp and soon after by Collins.
Western coach, Condobolin High School’s Simon Murphy, said it took a while but there was marked improvement in his side.
“The second half of that second game was much better. Everyone was more hungry, we got more of the ball and used it well,” he said.
“But in the first half and game one we didn’t put the player on the ground, we grabbed at the ball carrier and were beaten on the ball more times than we should have.
“Against bigger teams you can’t do that and expect to win games.”
Western did lay claim to scoring one of the best tries of the day.
It came in the second half against Sydney North East and was a real surprise after their opposition had received two straight penalties and were on the attack.
However, the Western defence stood firm and their defence caused a Sydney handling mistake and a turnover.
Mudgee’s Ben Cheetham pounced on the ball, drove through a gap in the defence and raced down the left side before drawing the Sydney fullback and flying winger Keanau Wighton (Condobolin) did the rest.
The move started behind the Western line and finished under the Sydney posts. Wighton also converted his own try.
Western were really out of their depth in the first game against Sydney South West, who had a huge forward pack and had a mountain of ball for their hungry and speedy backs.
They led 21-5 at half time with Western’s try coming from Cowra High lock Sam Ogilvy.
The best performed teams in each of the four pools go through to the main draw today. One of them is North Coast which won its two games by big margins (35-0 and 42-0) with last year’s Australian Schoolboys five-eighth Jake McIntyre (Alstonville) in sparkling form.
Also through to the main draw are North West; Sydney South West and Sydney West.
The game between North Coast and Sydney West today at 1pm should be a beauty while North West are against Sydney South West in the second semi-final at 2.10pm.
Those two winners will play in the Shield final at 12pm on Friday.