Bitter dissapointment for under 18s

Ismail Hudson wins the lineout. Photo: Lissy Giagios.

Ismail Hudson wins the lineout. Photo: Lissy Giagios.

After a 12-all draw in round one, the Monaro Freight Under 18 Rugby team took on St Edmunds College for what was expected to be a tough match. Fielding what appeared to be a stronger team, St Edmunds stung the Red Devils with aggressive running and rucking. The St Edmunds forwards forced several turnovers by Cooma and their backs capitalised to score 2 tries out wide within the first 10 minutes. Trailing 12-0 the Red Devils forwards lifted their intensity. The front row of Jackson Reed, Dom Giagios and Brendan McCole took the game to St Edmunds who were now back pedalling.

Solid defence by flankers Ismail Hudson and Joe Altman allowed second rowers Matt Cusbert and Samuel Eljuga to make penetrating runs. Captain and No 8 Daniel Robinson led the charge in the rucks before being injured in a tackle. His replacement, Ned McDonnell, continued Daniel's hard work. Both teams tried to play the game in the backline but strong defence on both side stifled any sustained attack. It became clear that this game was going to be won in the forwards. Cooma's hard work was rewarded when Matt Cusbert forced his way over for a try. Austin Wills converted and the Red Devils trailed 12-7. St Edmunds replied with a converted try near half time to lead 19-7 at the break.

The second half started well for Cooma. A series of penalties allowed Matt Cusbert to kick deep into St Edmunds territory. With Cooma winning its lineouts through Ismail Hudson the Red Devils applied pressure on the defence. Ned McDonnell was able to crash his way over from a ruck. Dean Blyton narrowly missed the conversion and Cooma was now back in the game at 19-12. St Edmunds tried to pin the Red Devils in their own half with long kicks but Aaron Stewart, Zack Bowerman, Tyran Murphy and Ben Turner-Mann returned the ball strongly. St Edmunds again turned to their backline but committed Cooma defence led by fly-half Josh McDonald turned them back. Cooma applied more pressure on St Edmunds and won a scrum 30 metres from the try line. Matt Cusbert broke from the scrum and scored under the posts. Dean Blyton converted and the scores were lock up at 19-all.

The niggling that had been occurring in the rucks all game exploded when Dom Giagios fought with a St Edmunds prop. Good work by Daniel Robinson and co-captain Matt Cusbert calmed the Cooma players. Dom was given a yellow card. Now a man down, the Red Devils dug deep and held St Edmunds out. Cooma was awarded a penalty for a ruck infringement and opted to kick for goal. From 40 metres out Dean Blyton calmly piloted the ball between the posts to give Cooma the lead for the first time at 22-19.

Unfortunately for Cooma, there was no fairytale finish as St Edmunds got back into the game with a some fortunate penalties that kept the Red Devils pinned to their try line for the remaining 10 minutes of the game. St Edmunds scored two tries to win 31-22.

Although bitterly disappointed after working so hard to take the lead, the Red Devils can be proud of their effort and determination. The best and fairest points were awarded to Jackson Reed (3), Ben Turner-Mann (2), Zack Bowerman and Matt Cusbert (1). Tyran Murphy was the Player's Player.

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