Visitors no match for local juniors in ARU comp

IT was a golden night for the Northern Inland Junior Gold sides at Scully Park on 

Saturday.

The 15s and 17s both notched their first wins in the ARU Junior Gold Cup  competition with the 15s getting up 24-17 over South Australia before the 17s gutsed out a 22-19 win.

The home sides started brilliantly.

The 15s led 17-nil at one point and were up by 12 at half-time.

South Australia dominated the early passages of the second half and scored to close the gap to seven. 

It remained that way until Percy Duncan restored Northern Inland’s lead to two tries with an 80m effort late in the half.

The visitors did score again but couldn’t prevent Northern Inland taking the points.

“It was great to have a win,” Northern Inland co-coach Gus Comi said.

He said it was the culmination of their continual improvement.

“Again we were better than last week,” Comi said.

The 17s likewise got out to an early lead with hooker Josh Strange and fullback Nick Finney crossing to give them a 12-nil lead at half-time.

But as happened in the earlier game, South Australia were first to strike in the second half with centre Michael Marshall finishing off a great attack from inside their half.

It was a sign of what was to come with the visitors again exposing Northern Inland’s midfield defence which allowed them to hit the front following a converted try.

Northern Inland showed it wasn’t going down without a fight, hitting back minutes later. 

Good pressure forced a mistake from the South Australians.

From the scrum they put the ball through the hands left and found replacement back Josh Devine.

He was cut down metres from the line but they were able to recycle quickly, and pop the ball to Greg Prowse.

Nick Finney converted to make it 19-14 in Northern Inland’s favour.

He then extended the lead to 22-14 with nine minutes to go, before SA centre Marshall split some flimsy midfield defence and raced about 60m to score his second.

It was unconverted, leaving the score at 22-19 and setting up a tense finish.

Northern Inland had a couple of opportunities for points in the final few minutes with Finney missing a penalty.

Then after forcing another penalty at the breakdown they had a lineout only metres out.

But it was messy and they ended up turning over the ball. South Australia went on the counter and were looking dangerous, but Northern Inland scrambled well in defence and managed to shut down the play.

The visitors did earn the scrum feed but the whistle blew before they could pack .

“It was great to get a win,” head coach Andrew Verrell said.

It was an uplifting result after a few tough weeks.

“They toiled hard,” he said.  “And showed a lot of character.” 

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