THE Southern Stars rugby league representative side has brought back-to-back Country Tier II titles to the region, cantering to a 50-6 final win over North Coast at Tamworth on Saturday afternoon.
During a game in which the Stars seldom looked under pressure, their forwards set a terrific platform and the backs ran roughshod, half Jono Dallas and fullback Michael Lett leading the charge.
Six Stars players – Dallas, Lett, Bronx Goodwin, Damien Paulissen, Aaron Henry and Yileen Gordon – earned spots in the Country team to play Queensland Country in Rockhampton next month.
Joel Roberts opened the scoring early after a great pass from Goodwin, before North Coast had their only reason to celebrate when classy work by centre Beau White put winger Matt Miller over in the corner.
White’s conversion gave his side a 6-4 lead.
White was causing the defence all sorts of problems, but his next piece of magic, when he got around Goodwin and looked for Miller again, turned to gold for the opposition when Roberts anticipated well, grabbed an intercept and raced away.
He was dragged down 10 metres from the line.
Second-rower Keiran Rankmore soon crashed over near the posts.
Goodwin converted the try.
The next four-pointer was a well-worked backline movement that gave right winger Blake Judd room to move, before Roberts showed great strength to barge over from dummy-half to allow his side to go to half-time ahead 18-6.
Desperate for a good start to the second stanza, North Coast were caught out by some brilliant play by Goodwin when he produced a slick tap-on pass down the blind side, Roberts strolling over for his hat-trick.
The writing was on the wall for North Coast, with Nathan Ford in fine form around the ruck and the forwards, led by Warilla Gorillas teammates Paulissen, Henry and Rankmore charging up-field.
Another Gorilla, Tyson Brown, added the next try before Goodwin scooped up a loose pass to sprint 70 metres and touch down.
Lett added a double and Dallas put Henry over almost untouched to bring up the half-century.
It is probably unfair to single out any one player as the side’s best.
All six players who made the Country team were standouts, while Ford, Roberts and Rankmore were probably unlucky to miss out on selection.
During the weekend’s round 12 of the VB South Coast Rugby League, Shellharbour City Sharks finished strongly to edge out Gerringong Lions 30-22 at Michael Cronin Oval, Warilla-Lake South Gorillas kicked a late field goal to down Kiama Knights 13-12 at Cec Glenholmes Oval, Nowra-Bomaderry Jets moved into fourth spot after easily accounting for Jamberoo Superoos 58-14 at Kevin Walsh Oval, while Milton-Ulladulla Bulldogs crept back into semi-final contention with a 42-30 win over Port Kembla at Mollymook.