Western Division shows true grit in defeat: 20-point deficit doesn't become blow out
By ANYA WHITELAW
WHEN Western Division found themselves trailing by 20 points after as many minutes in Saturday evening’s trial against Newcastle in Cessnock, coach Darren Jackson was a worried man.
But instead of the Country Rugby League tier one heavyweight going on to post a crushing victory, Jackson’s Western squad showed their mettle, fighting hard in going down 32-12.
While the trial game was more about working on combinations and seeing what his new squad had to offer, Jackson admitted a scoreline blowout would have been disappointing.
“They won seven tries to three, so it wasn’t too bad, but when they led 20-0 after 20 minutes, I was thinking ‘Oh no’,” Jackson said.
“But for the rest of the game it was 12-all. I was really happy because for a lot of the guys, this was their first game and there was a fair bit of rust there.
“It was a long trip too. The Bathurst guys got on the bus at 7.30am, we travelled all day to get to Cessnock at 3pm and then we had to play at 5pm, so that was tough.”
Prior to kick-off, Jackson had stressed to his players the importance of getting the basics right.
He wants Western to play a simple brand of football this season and believes if they can execute well, they can have an impact at this year’s Country Championships.
“I virtually want to try an implement a simple game plan. In my opinion rugby league is a very simple game, but a lot of people out there try to make it complicated,” the Western coach said.
“I wanted my side to do the simple things and I wanted to get a bit of cohesion as well. All the boys did very well ... we tried to pick a best player, but one to 25, all the guys did very good. There were a couple of standouts, but overall the attitude was great.”
The game was played over 80 minutes, with the first half split into two 20 minute quarters before they played without a break for the remainder of the time. There was also no goal kicking.
With a large squad of 25, Jackson had the luxury of swapping his entire forward pack throughout the trial and every player in green and white was given plenty of minutes.
Fullback Cody Robbins, who scored one of Western’s tries, was also tried at centre as Jackson got the chance to see what his players were capable of.
Mudgee’s Jared Robinson picked up a four-pointer while another member of the backline who impressed the mentor was Cowra centre Warren Williams.