Big Jeb White crosses for the match winning try for the Hawks last weekend. Pic by Richard Glover.Richard Glover
With more than five rounds of Rugby League now completed in 2013, we might gain some appreciation of what the teams have done so far and what we might expect from each, between now and September this year.
The Hall “Hornets” were the Premiers in the George Tooke Shield for 2012 but did not nominate for 2013.
The Boorowa “Rovers” were Minor Premiers last season and have not shown any form in 2013.
The Binalong Brahmans did not field a team in 2012 but the 2010 Premiers are now back with a new team, the Exchange Rabbitohs have faded into the Gordon Highlanders squad with some Goulburn Bulldog’s players to bolster an exciting new presence in George Tooke Shield.
The Braidwood Bears remain absent from the competition but we have a new competitor for 2013 in the University of Canberra “Cows”, who have to date been more than fairly competitive.
An unfortunate selection of team name, but this is how the Belconnen Scholars (2012 Raiders’ Cup Premiers) started out.
It will be interesting to see what “The Cows“ do if they follow a similar path.
In the east, the ever present Bungendore Tigers still wait in ambush of another Premiership.
The 2011 Premiers are difficult to handle towards the end of the season, any approach at their “Mick Sherd Oval“ home ground in Bungendore needs to be handled with great preparation and care indeed.
However, their performance thus far shows a lot of fluctuation and it is difficult to fathom the reason for some of their very lacklustre performances, notably their recent defeat by Crookwell.
Remaining in the east, the Boomanulla Raiders have been decimated by injuries. At full strength, this most enigmatic indigenous team should never be under rated.
They play a game which could be best being described as “unscripted” and most difficult to follow.
Boomanulla play the game the way they see it at the time and use unorthodox methods to get an advantage if it suits them, especially at home.
But like the Tigers, Boomanulla have turned in some very average outings this year.
To cap all this off, former Canberra Raider and test winger, Ken Nagus wears the Boomanulla number 6 jersey.
Boomanulla are very astute readers of their opponents, if they spot a faulty defensive position they will exploit this immediately and usually do so with positive results for them.
Unfortunately their mercurial Gavin Johnson will spend the year off with a depressed cheek fracture.
Its difficult to see Boomanulla as a force late in August unless they can get more players back on the paddock quickly.
To the north, Crookwell’s Green Devils still field a team, but clearly understaffed, they continue to struggle in second division Group 8 Rugby League.
This is a sad reflection on the fact that these smaller towns are no longer able to attract the players that they need to remain competitive.
There was a time, not so long ago that the Green Devils were a much feared opponent and an away trip to Crookwell was as good as a trip to hell, even up in first division Rugby League.
However, Crookwell recently managed a win over Bungendore.
Still in the north, what a confusing transition of teams has taken place in the City of Goulburn over recent years?
The Exchange Rabbitohs from 2012 no longer field a team and the 2011 Gordon Highlanders re-emerge with some Rabbitohs players and a good selection from the Bulldogs Reserves from last year.
What an effective move this was in this big inland city!
Once considered the “easy-beats” the new Highlanders outfit is a fast moving, talented team with some very quick backs and big, mobile forward pack spearheaded by prop Peter Rose.
The Highlanders now play out of Worker’s Arena.
In the northwest, the Boorowa Rovers appear to be just a shadow of their former 2012 strength.
Like Crookwell, they seem to be badly understaffed and have had some big scores put on them in 2013.
Like Crookwell, Boorowa are a dual-code town and the Rugby players sap the playing strength of the populations of these smaller communities.
This leads us to the west and the Harden Hawks who continue to display their great resilience in Rugby League with a very strong 2013 side.
At the time of writing, The Hawks have just faced their biggest test in the current season with a hit-out against the Gordon Highlanders which The Hawks won in a dire battle.
Over recent years, only just a few teams have been able to defeat the Hawks, but never by any great margin.
If Harden find themselves behind on the scoreboard at any time during a game, they don’t give up.
The Hawks have a good kick chase game and their main kicker, Peter Adam is usually inch perfect with a clearing kick.
Moving back towards the centre of the Tooke Shield competition, our attention turns to the 2010 Premiers, the Binalong Brahmans. Binalong village is one of the smallest Rugby League supporting communities in the State and arguably one of the most competitive.
Although Binalong needs to import a majority of its players to form a team, the town is free from competition from rival codes which hamper the playing rosters of other larger towns.
All the community support then focuses on its Rugby League team.
Importation of players has been the Brahmans strong point in 2013 and the present squad have had just 12 points scored against them in four outings this year.
However, Binalong face their strongest test for the current season this weekend when they face off with their old foes the undefeated Harden Hawks at McLean Oval in Harden.
This game promises to be an absolute cracker with the kicking games of Harden’s Peter Adam and Binalong’s Chris Rawlinson possibly deciding the outcome.
Finally, the former first division team the Yass Magpies, who return to George Tooke shield after a long absence from this competition.
The Magpies lost a wealth of players to the Brahmans, but the Yass team still possess a wealth of talent, both young and old and this fact could be responsible for some of their underperformances to date.
Yass has no U18’s team and these juniors lack the experience to deal with strong opponents in George Tooke Shield. Some of the senior players have been off the field for too long to perform in the early stages of the competition and this might prove costly for Yass later in the year.
No doubt, the Magpies will improve greatly by July but by that time it might be too late to secure a top four spot.
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