Wounded Digger: Concern as backrower hospitalised with neck injury

Rugby League

NORTH Tamworth took another step towards a Clayton Cup despite Saturday’s injury-shortened clash with Oxley Diggers at Scully Park.

The Bears were leading Diggers 48-10 six minutes into the second half of the Round 12 when Diggers second rower, Jason Wheeler, suffered a neck injury.

After a stoppage of more than 30 minutes to ensure Wheeler’s best care and transportation to Tamworth Hospital the game was called off.

Oxley Diggers president Mick Schmiedel said Wheeler had feeling in his arms and legs but “was in a great deal of pain”. It was the Bears12th straight win, leaving them favourites for not only the Group 4 first grade premiership but also the Clayton Cup, the symbol of supremacy in the NSW Country Rugby League competitions.

Going into the weekend North Tamworth’s main opposition for teh Clayton Cup was the previously unbeaten Scone Thoroughbreds.

However Greta Branxton Colts beat the Thoroughbreds 20-18 with a penalty goal after the final siren to win their A Plus Contracting Round 15 clash at Greta Oval.

The two-point loss was disappointing, said Thoroughbreds captain-coach Daniel Ritter.

“We were a little off but it was a good tough game of football, not much in it. A pretty tight game, Ritter said.

Despite the loss Scone host the major semi on August 17 and play Greta Branxton again with the minor semi to be played at Olympic park this Sunday between Muswellbrook Rams and Denman Devils.

Scone’s loss has left the North Tamworth Bears as the leading contender for the Clayton Cup.

Bears captain-coach Brad McManus has built a good side, strong right across the park.

Saturday’s win, however, was somewhat bitter sweet as he and his players watched Jason Wheeler being attended to and then ferried to hospital after suffering the neck injury. Group 4 referee Tony Field said it was an accident, an injury suffered when Wheeler twisted in a tackle.

Oxley Diggers captain-coach Jamie Trindall was worried for his backrower.

“He was in a heap of pain,” Trindall said.

Brad McManus summed it up best.

“We hope he’s all right,”  McManus told The Leader.

“You never want to see anything like that.”

n In the other two Group 4 games Narrabri Blues beat West Lions 50-22 on their home Collins Park field and Gunnedah had a 50-22 win over Wee Waa at Wee Waa’s Captain Cook Oval.