The 2013 rugby league season kicked off at Albion Park's Croome Rd Complex recently with three Country Rugby League Academies taking on Wests, Illawarra and Balmain in hot windy conditions.
Far South Coast Monaro Academy, which includes Cooma players Blayne Thomas, Joel Smith and Zane Weston, played Illawarra in the first game of the day, with players showing a commendable account of themselves, applying the hard work and training throughout the summer months.
Illawarra put up a bold display considering the limited time they have had to prepare but the class, speed and disciplines of the Far South Coast Monaro players proved too much in the end.
The second game saw the far Southern players take on a very fit, physical and well drilled Wests outfit that took the game to a much higher level, catching the Far South Coast Monaro players on the back foot. After two quick tries against them, the Academy players dug deep and started to grind themselves back into the contest posting a try just before the end of the 1st third through Lachlan Carey (Cobargo). Second period of play saw the game tightly contested with a strong wind at the Academies back and their tactical kicking game, the team was able to peg back the score line through a try to Adam Lucas (Bega). Keeping Wests scoreless, the Academy team was back in the game with a term to play.
Wests came out with greater determination in the final period and posted another three tries against a tired and fatigued Academy team that although were getting beaten all over the field still tried to hold out the skilful Wests outfit and compete.
"It was a great opportunity for our players to see the rewards of training three days a week such as Wests have been doing since November," Academy captain Joe Stewart (Eden) said after the game.
"To be tested against a team such as this and know that you are not that far off the mark makes us want to try harder."
"I am proud of the boys, where we have come from and looking forward to the challenges ahead."
Far South Coast Monaro Academy will have a final training run on Sunday February 23 at 10am in Bega, before winding up their program with games against the other two academies and Canberra at Batemans Bay on March 3.