Reigning premiers Trundle Boomers kicked off their season with a see-sawing 26-18 win over a gallant Canowindra Tigers in Sunday's opening round of the Woodbridge Cup, held at Tom Clyburn Oval.
It came after a tense second-half where the Dan Barclay-coached home team exposed Trundle's defensive sets on multiple occasions, while players clashed frequently during the afternoon fixture.
One clash between Boomer centre Lewis Barnett and Tiger second-rower Lindsay Thurgate turned controversial, with Barnett accusing Thurgate of biting him.
While the referee listened to Barnett's complaints before resuming play, it was met with a bemused yet firm denial from Thurgate.
The accusations briefly marred a nail-biter of a game that was only decided in its final moments, as Boomers' Adam Hall converted from a Brad Watt try just prior to the referee blowing the final whistle.
However, until then, it was a fierce contest, with Canowindra pegging back the 16-4 half-time deficit, with tries to Curtis Hughes - Sunday was the first time all three Hughes brothers played together - and Tim Roberts getting the gap back to 12-16 by the 19 minute mark of the second half.
While Trundle's Brendan Sense scored a try moments later, the Tigers stuck fat to their task, with Tatafu Na'aniumotu scoring, accompanied by Rob Burn's only conversion of the day, to bring the scores to 18-20, after which point the Boomers' Watt secured the win.
The Tigers will be left ruing their first half, as strong early defensive sets from both teams gave way to Trundle tries late in the half with hooker Conor Farrar and bench-player Jacob Harvey both delivering tries just before the main break.
Frazer Ryder's try was the only early consolation, the Boomers getting out to a lead that was too much for the Tigers to bridge against the visiting team.
The Tigers will now head over to Peak Hill this week while Trundle will host Grenfell.
- CANOWINDRA TIGERS 18 (Tries: Frazer Ryder, Tim Roberts, Curtis Hughes, Tatafu Na'aniumotu, Conversion: Rob Burn) lost to TRUNDLE BOOMERS 26 (Tries: Conor Farrar 2, Jacob Harvey, Brendan Sense, Brad Watt, Conversions: Adam Hall 3)
- 3. Aaron Earsman
- 2. Sia Nameni
- 1. Curtis Hughes
- Player's Player: Curtis Hughes
Tigers take opening round of League Tag
Earlier in the day, the Tigers were too good for the Boomers in the first round of League Tag, dominating general play to win 34-10, with Tigers skipper Alicia Earsman scoring three tries.
However, it was a team effort, with Tigers players Paige Selten, Hayley White, Darcy Merchant and Eryn Coles all scoring in the victory, as the Tigers raced away to a big win.
Hayley and Kristy White also scored three conversions between them, while on the other side of the ledger, Trundle players Brooke Morgan and Sasha Karaitiana both fought gamely for the opposition, scoring the team's two tries of the day.
- CANOWINDRA TIGERS 34 (Tries: Alicia Earsman 3, Paige Selten, Hayley White, Darcy Merchant, Eryn Coles, Conversions: Hayley White 2, Kristy White) defeated TRUNDLE BOOMERS 10 (Tries: Brooke Morgan, Sasha Karaitiana, Conversions: Bre Durning)
- 3. Alicia Earsman
- 2. Monique Jenart
- 1. Kelly Price, Kate Price, Darcy Merchant, Jess Perry
- Player's Player: Alicia Earsman