FIRLA defeat Western Rams at Bathurst

IN THE MIDDLE: Dubbo Macquarie hooker Jeremy Smith was in the thick of the action for the Western Rams on Saturday, Photo: PHIL BLATCH
IN THE MIDDLE: Dubbo Macquarie hooker Jeremy Smith was in the thick of the action for the Western Rams on Saturday, Photo: PHIL BLATCH

WESTERN suffered a 34-18 loss against a classy Federation of Italia Rugby League Australia outfit in Bathurst on Saturday, but assistant coach Kip Maranda is confident the Rams are on the right path.

Both sides used the Carrington Park clash as a means of viewing players with potential headed into, for the Azzurri, the 2017 World Cup and, for Maranda’s Rams, next year’s country championship.

On that note, FIRLA’s Christian Bate and halfback Blake Cavelarro gave Italian selectors plenty to think about in the lead-up to next year’s World Cup, the latter scoring 22 of his side’s points in a stunning display.

While, for the hosts, forwards Luke Thompson, Simon Osborne and Brent Seager poured through a mountain of work and Parkes fullback Sam Dwyer was brilliant, earning the FIRLA’s vote as player of the game.

While disappointed, Maranda said it was important to look at the positives, such as the exciting performances of debutants Mitch Burke of Forbes, Lithgow’s Mitch Case and Orange CYMS pivot Dom Maley.

“There’s plenty of good players around, we’re asking them to put their hand up when we have training and to bring the right attitude,” Maranda said.

“We’re not here for one game, we want to make friendships out of it and build to win country championships and get back into that tier one where we should be.”

Western drew first blood against FIRLA, Forbes’ try-scoring gun Ben Maguire muscling his way over from close range to gift the hosts a 6-0 lead.

Ethan Natoli hit back for FIRLA, but a crafty Jacob Neill grubber for himself after 30 minutes put the Rams up 12-6.

Enter Cavelarro.

Leaning on a game revolving around lightning quick footwork and superb support play, the Western Suburbs Magpies No.7 scored two tries in the lead-up to half-time to make it 18-12.

Josh Bergamin extended the lead after the break before Maley got one back, but Cavelarro and Natoli iced the win with tries in the final 15 minutes for the Azzurri.

Having been part of a winning country championship campaign with Western in 2003, Maranda knows the key to success at a rep footy level is composure, something the Rams slightly lacked on Saturday.

“Our completions probably let us down, that was probably a big thing that hurt us which is probably the same thing that let us down at Narellan,” he said. “It’s something for us to work on, and probably a good opportunity to get a few debutantes in there to have a look at.”

FIRLA 34 (Blake Cavelarro 3, Ethan Natoli 2, Josh Bergamin tries; Blake Cavelarro 5 goals) def WESTERN 18 (Dom Maley, Jacob Neill, Ben Maguire tries; Warren Williams 2, Brad James goals)