The first major hit out of 2020 saw the Dukes take back the Indianna Challenge Trophy from friendly rivals Rouse Hill Renegades. While the day was relatively gloomy and rainy, the ground held up very well and allowed for free flowing rugby for the most part with the Dukes backs taking full advantage and showcasing their skills. This is the 2nd time the Dukes have won the Indianna Challenge Trophy (pictured right) since it’s inception between both clubs in 2018.
Early in the day, in a club first, the Dukes fielded 3 grades. With a few teething problems to start off with (including 16 players on the field to start the game!), overall it was a good showing from the boys. While it wasn’t the win that 3rd grade captain Phil Hughes was after, he has said that it has begun the foundation of what should be a solid season for the Thirsty Thirds with many players at the pointy end of the selections being dropped back in grades now that substitutions aren’t a free for all with the season proper beginning this coming week.
In the curtain raiser, the Dukes imposing 2nd grade squad took to the park being led by captain and world’s largest halfback John Segi and his right hand man Uati Toafa. While few in the team were quite new to rugby union as a sport (being converted from league), the team came together well and with some big hits, hard line running and straight up brute force ran away with a 7 try victory.
Time came around for the Indianna Challenge Trophy game and under the guidance of returning halfback (and captain) Manny Grundy, the Dukes new game plan worked to perfection in the main game, putting at least 8 tries passed the opposition en-route to a big finish to the day. Sadly, Manny succumbed to injury mid way through the game and we wish him a speedy recovery. Coach Andrew Bernardini has also stated that while seeing how well things came together on the field, there was still plenty to work on and that some tough decisions lay ahead in regards to selections throughout the grades.
The Dukes would like to extend their thanks to the Rouse Hill Renegades club. The day (as usual) was great on and off the field with the Renegades playing wonderful hosts. It was fantastic to see 3 grades of hard rugby plus the new addition of a women’s 7’s side for Rouse Hill. Hopefully we can match you next season and have our own women’s side out there!
In addition to the hosting of the match, a total of $11,000 was donated to Neuroblastoma Australia by the Renegades in spite of Covid-19 tightening everyone’s pockets. A big congratulations to the Renegades players, off field staff, supporters, volunteers and sponsors is definitely in order.
The Dukes and Renegades will meet again in Round 5 (15/08/2020) of the shortened “Covid Cup” competition on home turf.