|Best dressed Touch Judge of 2015.|
Dukes Rugby finished up their 2015 campaign with a trip to Central NSW for the Mudgee Sevens and came away with sore heads, sore bodies as well as 2 wins! The Dukes were placed in a 5 team pool with competition heavyweights – Manly Marlins, a Western Sydney invitational side – BISEC, a Newcastle invitational side – Horse & Rider, as well as Mudgee Rugby’s colts side – Ginge’s Ninjas.
The Glen Willows Sports Field was of a quality often heard of but seldom seen for club rugby. For those unfamiliar with the ground itself, it hosted the City vs Country NRL fixture of 2012. Now for us, playing on a field with the correct Union markings on the field would suffice, however this was leaps and bounds ahead of that.
Unfortunately for the entire team (who were out until 3am) our first fixture was set to be played at 9am against the Ninjas. Fortunately though, the Ninjas were distracted by Touch Judge – Mark “TamaGlama” Wilcox. In what was the lowest scoring game of the tournament, the Dukes won 7-5 courtesy of a try and conversion from departing Scotsman, Dillon Beveridge.
|Jimmy Purnell dotting down another 5 pointer.|
The second match of the day saw the Dukes set to take on Horse & Rider from Newcastle. The boys scrapped through with a 22-21 victory, tries going to Dillon Beveridge, Phillip Hughes and 2 to James Purnell (Iain Meiklejohn putting him away in the corner for one of them). The game was not without it’s low point however with Alex Cavanaugh suffering a Grade 2 Shoulder Tear that would see him out of the tournament.
It was at this stage that it was decided that a recovery pool needed to be set up. With Mark “Let’s Get Physical” Wilcox over seeing the filling and the safety of the pool, everyone was sure to be safe for the day. The boys wasted little time in getting in the pool, but the relaxing times were soon to end.
|Brendan Hoskins, Iain Meiklejohn and “Tamaglama” himself.|
Third match up had the Dukes pitted against the Manly Marlins. A Division 6 Suburban Rugby side playing the Shute Shield runners up and the eventual tournament winners. A tall order to say the least. The Dukes had the ball in hand for what was lucky to amount to 1 minute of total game time. The Marlins had their kickoff retention planned out to the inch. What resulted was a whitewash. 66-0. At least we can say we were beaten by the best in the tournament!
|Pete O’Connor with ball in hand and outrunning defenders.|
The final pool game was played against BISEC, a Western Sydney invitational side. At this stage of the day, the Dukes were out on their feet. Fatigue hit some, injuries hit others. When we took the field, only 8 healthy players were available (with Dillon Beveridge playing on one leg from the start of the tournament) plus 2 tries already scored against us due to the kickoff going ahead without the Dukes anywhere near the field. Even with the injury, Dillon Beveridge streaked away for a 50m try. Another try SHOULD have gone to the Dukes if not for a refereeing error (where was the TMO on this one?!). From 40m out, Brendan Hoskins popped the ball up to waiting teammate Corey Mangan. Cool under pressure, he attacked the line, drawing in defenders and passing the ball off to James Purnell. 22m out now and he puts a perfectly weighted kick in along the grass, holding up short of the try line. Enter Pete O’Connor. As he was running towards the ball, an opposition player was shouldering him as they both jockeyed for position. The opposition player missed the ball completely, the ball bouncing off Pete O’Connor’s knee then grounded straight after. Try!…or so you would think. Referee calls knock on, 5m scrum to BISEC. The try of the tournament robbed! Final score 33-7 to BISEC.
|Boy-Wonder chugging away…|
The highlight of the day came when Robin made an appearance in the 100m beach sprint during the lunch break. From a prone start, competitors were to get to their feet as soon as they could and run to the other end of the field, the winner getting an esky of beer. Robin looked taller and looked like a few extra pounds might have been added since he was seen last in the Box Office flop Batman & Robin. Running a clear last behind the pack by 20m, Mark “Boy-Wonder” Wilcox crossed the line. Robin’s sidekicks were awaiting him at the 100m mark with a beer and a funnel. True to form, Robin demolished the beer in record time.
Finishing 3rd in the pool, the Dukes drew the Timberwolves (…or was that Deadwood?) in the Plate Semi Final. A lot of the players were expecting a beer to be in hand by this stage of the day. Even with the reinforcements, the Dukes went down fighting 28-0.
Overall a tremendous trip for the boys and we’re already booking in our spot for 2016, hoping to go at least one better. Many thanks to all who made the trip out to Mudgee, Mudgee Rugby and especially to Mark Wilcox for organising the trip.