In front of a boisterous home crowd, the Yass Rams have held on against a surging Jindabyne Bushpigs to win 26-22.
On another freezing day at Victoria Park and coming off a try-less win against the Cooma Red Devils, the Rams burst out of the gate in the opening 20 minutes and appeared to be set to run away with a big victory.
The contrasting styles of both sides were on full display, as the Rams ran rings around the Bushpigs, whilst the Bushpigs proved to be a force at the coalface and in particular at scrum time. It was this powerful force that brought them within a try of stealing the game off the Rams.
“They played a very good first 20 minutes. If they played that first 20 minutes for the full 80 minutes then they probably would’ve put a big score on,” said Coach Ian McFarlane.
“We let them back in the game with just stupidity and our scrum got decimated a bit there when we lost our prop early,” he said.
Whilst there was a hint of frustration with how the game ended, there was plenty to like about how the Rams played for McFarlane.
“I think we threatened all the time when we stretched the ball wide, and the young guys we got in the backline now are going great.”
“To their credit, their defensive work on their line has improved a lot. There was a period there where they were camped on their line for ten minutes and they eventually got over, but it took them ten minutes.”
“It looks promising and we’re in finals contention,” he said.
The standout performer on the day was fullback Mitch Stevens who was responsible for multiple try-saving tackles and some impressive conversions.
“He played outstanding.”
“He kicked well and he defended well. He’s the complete package on his day and he plays very good footy,” said McFarlane.
As for the Rams issues with their scrum, McFarlane thinks it’s an easy-to-fix problem.
“We’re going to have to get the scrum machine out.”
“It’s easy to address, it’s just technique. It’s something that’s very simple and we’ll address that at training on Thursday night.”
The win makes it three in a row and could mean the Rams have locked in their first finals berth since 2016, depending on other results.
“They’ve got all spring in their step now. They know what I’ve been trying to teach them this year works and if you watch the first 20 minutes it was just perfect structure.”
“They’re starting to believe that they can do it and it mightn’t be this year, but I think a grand final beckons for them,” said McFarlane.
Saturday also saw Brendan Cooke play his 150th game for the club.
In other Yass rugby news, the Ewes recovered from a false start to come within striking distance of the Jindabyne Miss Piggies before Jindabyne ran away with a 34-20 win.
“We let them get away early and we just never recovered unfortunately. It was 19-0 to them before we got our defence back in order and made it a closer game,” said Ewes Coach Stephen Crisp.
“It did get exciting there at one point though,” he said.
As the game began to unwind, the Yass ladies went ultra-aggressive with their ball movement and let through some late tries because of it.
“We were pushing passes because we were trying to catch up the game, and they got a couple of late tries which blew the score out again unfortunately.”
“We definitely got ourselves back in it, I think we just got a bit leg weary at the end there,” said Crisp.
It was pleasing to Coach Crisp to see the Ewes match it with the best side in the Country division.
“We can match it with them, we’ve just got to put it together for the whole game.”
“Our attack is okay, we can score points and we’ve proven that. It’s just getting our defence right and making sure we’re turning their fast players back inside, which has been our continual issue.”
“Once we do that, we control the game. It’s just being able to maintain that for the whole match. It’s our only issue,” he said.
The nature of the 10’s game compared to the traditional 15-a-side game is hurting the Ewes at the moment, despite the competition being considered developmental.
“Our ball running, our actual tackling technique and all the basics are now there. We’ve just got to manage the game, that’s the only thing we’ve got to conquer now.”
“That’s what makes it harder for our team. We come up against very fast sides and 10’s is actually a hindrance to us because if we were playing 15 a side we’ve actually got a very good team.”
“I think we’d be very hard to beat but it’s just the structure of our team and something we’ve got to work with,” said Crisp.
The Ewes will head to Hall to take on the bottom side of the Country pool. A win on the weekend will see the Ewes finish in 2nd place. Crookwell losing against Taralga on Wednesday night would lock in a Rams finals finish. However, if Crookwell wins, the Rams match against Taralga on Saturday becomes a do or die. Both sides have most likely played their final home games of season 2021.