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Tony Smith - The Press | Monday, 02 June 2008
Line-breaking Linwood second-rower Chris Bamford has clinched a place in the Canterbury Bulls' training squad with a hat-trick of tries in a trial match.
The big, burly forward left tacklers trailing in his wake as he helped Eastern Suburbs to a 42-32 win over Western Suburbs in the cross-town clash at Rugby League Park on Saturday.
Bamford's was one of the first names etched in the notebook of Bulls coach Brent Stuart as he named a 26-man training squad for the upcoming representative season.
"A lot of guys put their hands up and we've got a lot of new guys in the squad, which is a pleasant change," Stuart said.
"I thought Chris was the stand-out player (on Saturday). Probably the most satisfying part of his whole day was the amount of time he spent in the middle of the park. If he can carry on that vein of form that would be great."
Riccarton fullback Jermahl Carroll, who scored two tries and set up another with a 60m break-out from his own 20m line, was another to catch the eye of Stuart and fellow selectors Phil Prescott and David Perkins.
The Bulls brains trust were also impressed with Eastern second rower J J Smith and his Western counterpart, Sam Wallace, with the ball in hand.
Stuart said former Bull Kane Ferris was "outstanding back in the front row, where he should be". Stuart was also pleased with the performance of two players appearing at representative level for the first time, Papanui prop Olly Needham and Linwood hooker Nathan Sherlock, both ex-rugby union players. Sherlock, who can also play in the halves, has joined long-time Bulls captain Shane Beyers as a specialist hooker for Canterbury.
Riccarton stand-off Simon Mounga celebrated his 23rd birthday by being named in the halves alongside 2006 Bulls grand finalists Duane Wineti and Josh Reuben.
"We've got a lot of size right across the board this year and plenty of cover in every position. There's a lot of depth in Canterbury now and some very good players have missed out."
The Bulls squad will train every Wednesday in the lead-up to the representative campaign which starts in late August. The Eastern-Western clash, held for the first time, produced plenty of passion in the battle for bragging rights.
Bamford, who combined strength, skill and pace, barrelled over for East's first two tries, but Western fought back to lead 20-12 at half time after tries to Duane Wineti and outside backs Ben Hurrell (an 80m breakaway), Sam Kelso and Carroll.
The scoreline ebbed and flowed with Western fighting back to 32-36, but the bigger Eastern pack inflicted a killer blow when Kyle Leka palmed a clever pass for Joe Nuku to score through a couple of tired tackles.
Scorers: Eastern Suburbs 42 (Chris Bamford 3, John Aranga, Phil Wahnig, Nathan Sherlock, Joe Nuku tries; J J Smith 5 tries; Joseph Mika 2 goals) beat Western Suburbs 32 (Jermahl Carroll 2, Duane Wineti, Ben Hurrell, Sam Kelso, Tonga Mounga; Simon Mounga 4 goals). HT: 12-20. Referee: Adam Burns.
Canterbury Bulls training squad: Kolone Faalilo, Josh Ka, Alex Timo, J J Smith, Joseph Mika, Peter Ah Tong (Aranui), Kasi Leka, Kyle Leka (Celebration), Joseph Pombo, Shane Beyers (Halswell), Sam Wallace, Jonny Limmer (Hornby), Josh Reuben, Ross Turi, Sam Brown (Kaiapoi), John Aranga, Kane Ferris, Chris Bamford, Nathan Sherlock (Linwood), Ben Hurrell, Duane Wineti, Olly Needham, Lucas Tamakaha (Papanui), Jermahl Carroll, Tonga Mounga, Simon Mounga (Riccarton).