Group 10 coach Graeme Osborne threw down the challenge to former NRL players Josh Starling and Chris Grevsmuhl ahead of Saturday’s Western clash with Group 11.
Lead the way, boys.
The two monsters did just that, Grevsmuhl bagging a first-half double and Starling storming to man of the match honours in the blue and whites’ 40-28 victory over Group 11 on Saturday.
The eight-tries-to-six triumph at Jack Arrow Sporting Complex, the opening day for the new St Pat’s facility, is the first time since 2014 Group 10 has come up trumps in a senior fixture against its Western rivals, and Osborne loved it.
“Everyone enjoyed playing in front of our home crowd and you could tell there was still a bit of sting in it, there’s still a bit of spite in the senior Group 10 and Group 11 games which there always has been, it’s good. It adds to the contest,” he said.
“I thought (Starling) and Seags (Brent Seager) led from the front, and then big Greg (Behan) and Ethan (McKellar) too off the bench. It was a touch sloppy but it was warm here today too.”
Starling was enormous up front from the get-go, leading Group 10’s pack with aplomb to guide the blue and whites to a 24-14 half-time lead.
When he returned in the second period, Group 11 came after him but the ex-Knights bookend wasn’t phased by the extra attention he received, particularly from Dubbo CYMS prop Linc Kavanagh.
The two came together on a number of occasions in the second 40 minutes.
“I’m not a fighter or anything like that but you can’t back down, it’s all in the spirit of the game,” Starling said post match.
“You shake hands and have a hug and a laugh after the game which is what it’s all about.”
Starling lauded Grevsmuhl, the Orange CYMS recruit scoring with his first two touches to help Group 10 bounce back from an early 4-0 deficit after Aiden Ryan scored the opener to eventually lead, thanks to a Ryan Griffin four-pointer in the mix as well, 18-4 mid-way through the first half.
Both sides traded tries in the lead-up to the break and after the resumption, Ryan’s third four-pointer and a Wes Middleton special edged Group 11 to within just two points of the hosts.
But, and this was the case in the first period as well, every time it looked like Justin Toomey-White’s men were building to something special, errors or penalties crueled them.
And this one hurt more than most.
With momentum in their corner, the red and blacks coughed up possession, allowing Sam Dwyer – the 2017 Group 11 player of the year – to dart over from close range.
With a 30-22 advantage that was extended to 34-22 when skipper Dougie Hewitt darted over, Group 10 was never headed.
Toomey-White crossed late for a customary four-pointer but his was cancelled out by a try to Blake Lawson eight minutes from time, securing Group 10 the victory.
“They were good, they looked after me a bit,” Dwyer smiled when asked how the Group 11 boys reacted to him in opposition colours.
“It’s always good playing against your mates. I enjoyed it.
“There was a few different faces but for the most part I knew them all. It’s always good to have a run around in a rep jersey, whether that be Group 10 or Group 11, it doesn’t worry me.”
Toomey-White admitted discipline worked against his troops in key moments of the match, but he couldn’t fault Group 11.
A lot of those mistakes and penalties stemmed from enthusiasm, more than anything.
“We came to do a job today and we were confident in our ability to stick with them, and we did that, but there was some silly errors and silly penalties they scored off the back of.
“Group 10 is a talented, big mobile side. I’m proud of our middle men, we stuck it to them.
“We defended our backsides off though, I’m impressed with the boys.”
- GROUP 10 40 (Chris Grevsmuhl 2, Ryan Griffin, Mick Latu, Sam Dwyer, Doug Hewitt, Blake Lawson tries; Jeremy Gordon 6 goals) def GROUP 11 28 (Aiden Ryan 3, Benny Cokanasiga, Wes Middleton, Justin Toomey-White tries; Corey Cox, Brad Pickering goals)