Bowlie’s giant-killing run in the Roddy Shield 9s continued on Friday night when the Bears overcame competition favourites Commercial 21-10.
With less than a handful of players on the books just a week or two out from the start of the season, it was uncertain Bowlie would even field a team at one point.
But manager Jarrad Rossiter and skipper Nathaniel Moss gathered together a handy mix of players who ended up losing just once throughout the six-week competition.
Perhaps crucially for Bowlie, their personnel didn’t include any Blues first graders, something that became an advantage once the hierarchy opted to pull their top-graders from the competition for the last few rounds.
It meant Bowlie were at full strength in the final, while opponents Commercial were without a couple of their guns in Brayden Draber and Josh Webb.
The Sharks were also missing key figures Jacob Toppin and Tom Bennetts, among others.
While the Sharks were depleted, nothing can be taken away from the Bears, who out-enthused opponents throughout season 2018.
It’s their first ever Roddy Shield, although the Wynyard Wobblers – who were the Bowlie’s forebears – had taken out the inaugural shield in 2015.
Bowlie struck first through Brad Power and went further ahead soon after, before Commercial flyer Mitch Ivill raced away for an 8-4 halftime scoreline.
Brad Power opened the scoring for the Bowlie Bears after siome clever work from 6.
In a tightly-contested second half, Bowlie gradually got on top, with Billy Skein getting a crucial try, before the Bears went clear when a terrible kick was scooped up by Tim Roberts, who only had to dive over from close range to put the Bears up 21-10 with time ticking away.
Commercial claimed a consolation try, but could get no closer.
COLTS CLAIM PLATE
Oriental edged Woolpack 17-15 in an entertaining Bristow-Madigan Plate final.
Ori were roundly predicted to win comfortably after Woolpack’s side were decimated by the withdrawal of their first grade players.
But the Roosters turned in a whole-hearted effort and almost pulled off an upset.
Clever dummy half Nicholas Webb opened the account for Oriental when he sliced through from close range in the third minute, but Woolpack replied with a neat try to James Hannig.
The Roosters then took the lead when Luke Rodda stormed onto a short pass, putting the underdogs ahead 11-5.
Woolpack kept pressing and Billy Bridgeman offloaded neatly to allow Tom Hickson to dive over amid a tangle of arms and legs. With two to go in the half, the Roosters were travelling well at 15-5.
But as the siren sounded Matt Richards dived over for the Ori in an important score for a 15-9 halftime scoreline.
Ori continued the fightback after the break when Nick Webb schemed down a blindside and Jacob Hardwick found himself in open spaces to score
Woolpack steadied for a while but Ori always looked likely to hit the front and enforcer Jon Caffery surged onto a Warren Weir pass to score for a 17-15 lead.
Woolpack’s final throw of the dice came from young Byron Botes, who kicked long and chased hard, but couldn’t cleanly pick up the ball.
In the end, Ori were the ones attacking as the siren sounded.
WEIR WINS MEDAL
Warren Weir added to his bulging collection of trophies in his cabinet when he was named Roddy Shield’s Player of the Series on Friday night.
Weir was a driving force in Oriental claiming the Bristow-Madigan Plate.
Weir shows few signs of losing his skills despite being on the wrong side of 40 years of age.
It’s now more than 10 years since Weir captain-coached the Blues to premiership success in Group 9, while he is equally highly-regarded in Group 20, where he made his mark with Yanco-Wamoon.
Weir travelled the two hours each Friday evening from his Yanco base to take part in the 9s. He was one of four Weirs in the Ori side.
In accepting the award, Weir praised the Tumut Rugby League Old Boys and lauded the 9s concept.
He finished on seven points to take the award, just one clear of Commercial speedster Mitch Ivill.
The trophy is decided by spectators, who vote on a 3-2-1 points system after each game is played.
It’s the second time Weir has won the award.
Ivill is also a past winner.
OLD BOYS HAVE MUCH TO CONSIDER
Another Roddy Shield 9s competition has come and gone and once more it put rugby league centre stage, in front of sizeable crowds each Friday night at Twickenham.
The attendance at the final was healthy, albeit not quite as large as previous years.
There was no marquee drawcard such as Laurie Daley or Mal Meninga this year, and the competition is no longer the bright new thing on the block.
Still, it was an attendance any Group 9 club would love to draw for any season match, and perhaps even a final.
The 9s managed to thrive despite the absence of Tumut’s first grade players for much of the competition.
It’s worth clarifying that the Blues do not run the Pub 9s. Rather, it’s the Tumut Rugby League Old Boys, a separate body that nonetheless supports the major league club financially and with various other in-kind support.
It will be the Old Boys who decide the future direction of the 9s.
The demise of Tumbarumba two months ago, and their president Larry Collins’ praise of the pub 9s, has put the expansion of the Tumut competition in the spotlight. Other towns have expressed interest in putting teams in the 9s.
The Old Boys have so far resisted letting in sides from outside Tumut, citing their stated goal of benefiting Tumut rugby league.
But the current malaise in country footy suggests the Old Boys may need to take a broader view, and consider what’s best for rugby league in general.
It’s easy to envisage a team each from Tumbarumba, Adelong and Batlow joining the competition. Gundagai, known to be interested, could easily throw together a couple of teams.
The logistics involved in accommodating more teams are not insignificant. The length of the season is one hurdle.
The Old Boys will meet in coming weeks to review the existing season and determine what, if any, changes are required in 2019.