NSW Country Rugby Union

Miriallakis Takes Out Will Tanner

The 2016 Will Tanner New South Wales Country Rugby Union Player of the Year has been won by The Waratahs, Newcastle Hunter and NSW Country Cockatoos Tight Head Prop Forward Alain Miriallakis.

Miriallakis was announced as the recipient of the Will Tanner Award at a presentation in Toowoomba following the NSW Country Cockatoos last representative match of the 2016 season.

The Will Tanner Award is named in honour of former NSW Country Cockatoos player Will Tanner who tragically lost his life in a horse riding accident on his Quirindi property in 1997.

Alain Miriallakis in his first year of representative rugby with the NSW Country Cockatoos is the first Prop Forward to take out the coveted award in its nineteen year history, and continues the dominance forwards have had in winning the award over the last four years.

The French born prop represented at junior and under 20 level in France, before he was selected to represent Belgium at senior level, as he holds dual citizenship on the basis of his mother’s nationality.

Miriallakis moved to Australia five years ago where he resided in Wollongong for three years, before he relocated and settled in Newcastle, and commenced playing with The Waratahs Rugby Club.

He was a standout performer at this year’s New South Wales Country Championships in Armidale, which led to his selection in the Cockatoos Squad and ultimate selection in the NSW Country Cockatoos.

Miriallakis was a strong performer for the Cockatoos throughout their campaign which included matches against the Australian U20’s, Brumbies Provincial XV, NSW Suburban and Queensland Country.

He not only anchored the Cockatoos scrum at tight head prop, but was also a very dominant force in both attach and defence, which saw him continually get over the advantage line with his ball carries, and defend strongly at the ruck and breakdown.

Will Tanner Award points were allocated on a 3, 2 & 1 basis by a panel of judges for each of the Cockatoos’ matches, and Alain Miriallakis again created history by polling points in each of the four matches.

Will Tanner Winners
• 1998 – James Quinn (Lock) – Central North
• 1999 – Rod Petty (Halfback) – Illawarra
• 2000 – David Lubins (Lock) – Newcastle Hunter
• 2001 – James McCormack (Hooker) – Monaro
• 2002 – Nick Lavelle (Five Eight) – Central West
• 2003 – Anthony Gowing (Fullback) – Central West
• 2004 – Adam Winter (Lock) – Central Coast
• 2005 – Ross Duncan (Flanker) – Western Plains
• 2006 – Paul Elliott (Halfback) – Central West
• 2007 – Nick Leseberg (Lock) – Newcastle Hunter
• 2008 – Mike Te Moana (No 8) – New England
• 2009 – Mike Te Moana (No 8) – New England
• 2010 – Matt Waterford (Lock) – Central West
• 2011 – Sam Stewart (Centre) – Far North Coast
• 2012 – Josh Stewart (Flanker) – Central North
• 2013 – Paul Tuala (Flanker) – Illawarra
• 2014 – Gavin Holder (No 8) – Illawarra
• 2015 – Brad Sheridan (Flanker) – Central Coast
• 2016 – Alain Miriallakis (Prop) – Newcastle Hunter


Cockatoos Pipped by Heelers

NSW Country Cockatoos suffered a heart breaking 29 – 27 loss to the Queensland Country Heelers in Toowoomba, with the winning try being scored in the last minute of play.

As a result of the outcome of the match the Battle of the Borders Cup was claimed by the Queensland Country Heelers, and will now be held north of the border for the next twelve months.

The match was the usual no holds barredaffair, and the Cockatoos new from the kick off the Heelers had come to play, as the opening minutes were no place for the fainted hearted.

The Cockatoos spent the majority of the first ten minutes defending, and it was testament to their defence that the Heelers elected to kick a penalty goal to take a 3 – 0 lead.

A botched restart by the Heelers saw the Cockatoos secure possession, and from the ensuing ruck five eight Ben Damen sliced through, and after exchanging passes with centre Simon Newton he picked up fullback Rapine Mason for a converted try to take the lead 7 – 3.

Five minutes later the Heelers crossed for a converted try after their flanker Sean Finigan broke through several tackles before sending flanker Jason Mackie on a clear run to the line, and the Heelers had gone out to a 10 – 7 lead.

The next ten minutes saw the Cockatoos lift the pace of the match and their game overall, and after working play into the Heelers twenty two the forwards rolled the play forward before lock Aaron Loudon surged over for an unconverted try to reclaim the lead 12 – 10.

Five minutes later half back Adam McCormack darted over for a converted try which came on the back of two driving mauls which saw the Cockatoos forwards maul the ball from the halfway, and the Cockatoos had gone out to a 19 – 10 lead which was the score at half time.

Six minutes into the second half the Cockatoos extended their lead to 22 – 10 when the Heelers were penalised at the breakdown, and it looked as if the Cockatoos were really starting to get on top.

Five minutes later the Heelers struck back with a converted try by centre Jessie McGilvary to close the score to 22 - 17 when the Cockatoos failed to find touch with a clearing kick, and compounded the error with a series of missed tackles.

Another botched kick off receipt by the Heelers saw Cockatoos winger Sioni Halanukonuka finish off a sweeping across field movement to score an unconverted try in the corner and the Cockatoos’ lead had been extended to 27 – 17.

The next fifteen minutes were dominated by the Cockatoos, but they couldn’t convert the possession and field position into points, and to compound it they had a try disallowed under the posts.

With ten minutes left on the clock the Heelers cleared their bench and brought on fresh legs, and this had the desired effect, as they were able to work play into the Cockatoos twenty two and continually apply pressure.
They were almost immediately rewarded when the Cockatoos failed to clear a turnover, and a strong return run by their centre Jack Finigan was finished off by a converted try by five eight Andrew Turner, which closed the score-line to 27 – 24, and it was game on.

The Heelers had their tails up and the Cockatoos were constantly under the pump and were called upon to make a mountain of tackles in the dying stages of the match.

Just when it looked like the storm had been weathered and the Cockatoos would hold on to win the match, the Heelers launched one last attack, and following a series of drives at the line they worked a short blind side and their fullback Mic Jamieson crossed in the corner to steal the win.

Cockatoos Coach Mat Thomas summed up the match by say “the Cockatoos had dominated the vast majority of the game, but mistakes and missed opportunities had cost them dearly, especially when they had set up two match winning leads”.

He went on to say “the Heelers had done their homework and targeted several of the key Cockatoos players, but the game was there for the Cockatoos to win and they hadn’t been able to execute their plays to achieve the result”.

The match against the Qld Country Heelers was the last in the Cockatoos 2016 campaign, which had also seen them play matches against the Australian U20’s at Coogee, Brumbies Provincial XV at Bathurst and NSW Suburban at Coogee.

Qld Country Heelers – 29
Mic Jamieson, Jesse McGilvary, Jason Mackie, Andrew Turner Tries
Will Gilbert 3 Conversions & Penalty Goal

Defeated

NSW Country Cockatoos – 27
Aaron Loudon, Adam McCormack, Rapine Mason & Sioni Halanukonuka Tries
Ben Damen 2 Conversions & Penalty Goal.


Battle of the Borders

NSW Country Cockatoos wrap up their 2016 campaign with the annual “Battle of the Borders” match against Queensland Country in Toowoomba on Saturday, 2 July.

It will be a case of “State versus State” when the two traditional Country Rugby representative teams face off against one another at Gold Park, Toowoomba with the action set to commence at 2.30pm.

Both teams will be keen to claim the “Battle of the Borders Cup”, as the cup has changed hands over the last two years, with the Cockatoos being the current holders.

Both teams will come into the match with several runs under their belts, the Cockatoos on the back of matches against the Brumbies Provincial XV and NSW Suburban, while the Heelers have just returned home from a two match tour to New Zealand.

The Cockatoos have registered two impressive wins in their two matches, while the Heelers shared the spoils in their matches against Ellesmere and North Canterbury.

Looking at the history of the Cup it shows there is nothing much in the score-lines between the two Country Unions, and this match will more than likely follow the same pattern as previous matches.

Cockatoos Coach Mat Thomas said “not much was known about the Heelers, other than the squad had been together for over a week, which included a tour to New Zealand where they played two matches against strong opposition”.

He went on to say “the Cockatoos had continued to improve with every match they played, and he was confident that provided the squad maintained their composure, as had been the case in the previous matches, they would take the match to the Heelers”.

Cockatoos had been forced to make one change to the squad following an injury to Flanker Michael Howell, which sees Harry Veitch coming into the starting XV, and a more than capable replacement in Jerry Faifaise coming onto the bench.

Thomas added “while it was disappointing to lose Howell, the inclusion of Veitch would bring another dimension to the teams’ play, while Faifaise would provide impact when he came into the match”.

The match will be live streamed and can be viewed on Facebook by accessing the Reds Facebook Page.

Cockatoos
1 – Alex Wilson (Illawarra), 2 – Steve Lamont (Newcastle Hunter), 3 – Alain Miriallakis (Newcastle Hunter), 4 – Aaron Loudon (Illawarra), 5 – Chris Miller (Central West), 6 – Harry Veitch (Newcastle Hunter), 7 – Paula Tuala (Illawarra), 8 – Joe Akkersdyk (Newcastle Hunter), 9 – Adam McCormack (Mid North Coast), 10 – Ben Damen (Far North Coast), 11 – Sireli Bainvalu (Newcastle Hunter), 12 – Simon Newton (Central North), 13 - Filisioni Pauta (Central West), 14 – Sioni Halanukonuka (Central North), 15 – Rapine Mason (Newcastle Hunter), 16 – Anthony Allport (Illawarra), 17 – Ben Christensen ( Newcastle Hunter), 18 – Charlie French (New England), 19 – Oliver Bartlett (Armidale), 20 – Jerry Faifaise (Far North Coast), 21 – Mahe Fangupo (Central West), 22 – Jason Keelan (Newcastle Hunter), 23 – Reece Peters (Illawarra), Coach – Mat Thomas, Assistant Coaches – Scott Coleman & Shaun McCreedy, Manager – Matt Waterford, Assistant Manager – Scott McKellar, Doctor – David Cannon, Physio – Ben Mahon.


Cockatoos Reclaim Maher Ross Cup

NSW Country Cockatoos have posted another impressive 31 – 17 five tries to three win over NSW Suburban to reclaim the Maher Ross Cup in their annual clash at Latham Park, South Coogee on Saturday.

The score-line was the biggest winning margin in the six year history of the Maher Ross Cup, and now sees both Unions sharing the honour of holding the Cup on three occasions which is named in honour of former Presidents of NSW Country and NSW Suburban Laurie Maher and Ian Ross.

Subbies had first use of a strong wind, but they failed to capitalise on the conditions which saw their usual reliable kicker miss two long range penalty attempts in the first ten minutes.

Country posted the first score of the match when centre Filisione Pauta stripped his opposite number on the Cockatoos’ twenty two and race fifty metres down field before he was rounded up by the Subbies defence.

A quick recycle and hands across the fill in back line saw flanker Michael Howe take the final pass dash twenty five metres down the sideline to cross in the corner for an unconverted try for the Cockatoos to take a 5 – 0 lead.

Subbies continued to pump the ball into the Cockatoos half and five minutes later they closed the gap to 5 – 3 when Country was penalised at the breakdown, and their five eight Dan Kelly kicked a close range penalty goal.

Country responded to the score and went on the attack from the restart and mounted a lot of pressure in the Subbies half, which should have resulted in two scoring opportunities, but on both occasions the final pass was put down.

At the thirty minute mark the Cockatoos were finally rewarded when a line out win on the Subbies twenty two saw debut winger Sioni Halanukonuka chime in and step his way through the defence to take out the score to 12 – 3.

The remainder of the half saw the Cockatoos on the attack but they couldn’t breach the Subbies defence and the teams went to the half time break with the Cockatoos holding a nine point lead.

The second half opened with Subbies lifting the tempo, and after a string of penalties against Country the referee lost his patience and sent Cockatoos flanker Paul Tuala to the sin bin.

It didn’t take long for Subbies to capitalise on this advantage and within minutes their hooker Dan Farrell charged over following a series of pick and drives close to the Cockatoos line.

The ensuing conversion saw the score-line close to 12 – 10, and it was game on as Subbies were back in the match with their tails up.

Country weathered the storm and ten minutes later were the next to score when centre Simon Newtown finished off a move from a scrum win close to the Subbies line, and with the conversion the Cockatoos had re-established their nine point lead.

The match was swinging in the favour of the Cockatoos, and they lifted the intensity and started to apply pressure in all facets of play, especially the scrum and lineout.

A line out five metres from the Subbies line saw Country drive a maul over the line for Paul Tuala to score a converted try, and the score-line had jumped out to 24 – 10.

Country continued to mount pressure and five minutes later after a series of pick and drives at the line No 8 Joe Akkersdyk charged over for a converted try and the score had increased to 31 – 10.

Subbies then started to chance their arm, and on the back of some open running and good support play they tested the Cockatoos defence, and on two occasions they got over the line, but the scrambling Country defence held them up.

In the dying stages of the match Cockatoos five-eight Ben Damen was sent to the sin bin for an intentional foul, and right on full time Subbies worked a play close to the line down the blind side for replacement winger Pat Simpson to cross for a converted try to make the final score 31 – 17.

Players to stand out in an all-round team performance were Centre Filisione Pauta, Five Eight Ben Damen, Flanker Michael Howell, Prop Alain Miriallakis, Hooker Steve Lamont and Winger Sioni Halanukonuka.

The Cockatoos will now reassemble in Toowoomba next Friday in preparation for their last match of the season against traditional rivals Queensland Country on Saturday, 2 July which will see the “Battle of the Borders Cup” up for grabs.

NSW Country Cockatoos – 31
Joe Akkersdyk, Sioni Halanukonuka, Michael Howell, Simon Newton & Paul Tuala Tries
Ben Damen 3 Conversions.

Defeated

NSW Suburban – 17
Dan Farrell & Pat Simpson Tries, Dan Kelly Penalty Goal & 2 Conversions.


Cockatoos Head to Sydney

NSW Country Cockatoos are once again on the road this weekend and will be heading to Sydney to take on NSW Suburban, in what will be the team’s third match in their 2016 campaign.

The “Annual City v Country” clash will be played this Saturday, 25 June at Latham Park, South Coogee, kicking off at 1.30pm.

Last week’s comprehensive win over the Brumbies Provincial XV has the Cockatoos primed for this weekend’s match, and it will be an unchanged squad of twenty three who will face off against Subbies.

The Cockatoos will be out to reverse last year’s result, which saw Subbies hang on to register a six point victory to claim the Maher/Ross Cup, after the Cockatoos had squandered an early lead.

Cockatoos Coach Mat Thomas who is a former Subbies representative player and captain is fully aware of what Subbies will bring to the match, and has prepared his side accordingly.

He said “Subbies have a proud tradition, and whilst they only play a limited number of representative fixtures each year, they take each very seriously and will fully test the Cockatoos, as has been the case over the last five years”.

The Cockatoos are at full strength and will once again be looking to their forward pack to lay the platform, but they know Subbies will be a stronger and better prepared side than the Brumbies Provincial XV.

Thomas went on to say “Subbies have been training together for the last four weeks, and had an impressive win over Qld Subbies in their annual clash two weeks ago, so they will be well prepared and ready for this weekend’s match”.

Cockatoos
1 – Alex Wilson (Illawarra), 2 – Steve Lamont (Newcastle Hunter), 3 – Alain Miriallakis (Newcastle Hunter), 4 – Aaron Loudon (Illawarra), 5 – Chris Miller (Central West), 6 – Michael Howell (Newcastle Hunter), 7 – Paula Tuala (Illawarra), 8 – Joe Akkersdyk (Newcastle Hunter), 9 – Adam McCormack (Mid North Coast), 10 – Ben Damen (Far North Coast), 11 – Sireli Bainvalu (Newcastle Hunter), 12 – Simon Newton (Central North), 13 - Filisioni Pauta (Central West), 14 - Rhys Peters (Illawarra), 15 – Rapine Mason (Newcastle Hunter), 16 – Anthony Allport (Illawarra), 17 – Ben Christensen ( Newcastle Hunter), 18 – Charlie French (New England), 19 – Oliver Bartlett (Armidale), 20 – Harry Veitch (Newcastle Hunter), 21 – Mahe Fangupo (Central West), 22 – Jason Keelan (Newcastle Hunter), 23 – Sioni Halanukonuka (Central North), Coach – Mat Thomas, Assistant Coaches – Scott Coleman & Shaun McCreedy, Manager – Matt Waterford, Assistant Manager – Scott McKellar, Doctor – Ross Wilson, Physio – Ben Mahon.

NSW Suburban
1 – Jason Moylan (Hawkesbury Ag), 2 – Daniel Farrell (Mosman), 3 – Josaia Dakuitoga (Hunters Hill), 4 – Callum Sauer (Colleagues), 5 – Michael Howes (Mosman), 6 – Lachlan Girling-Butler (Kings Old Boys), 7 – Tom Evans (Petersham), 8 – Matthew Battishall (Oatley), 9 – Duncan Boyd-Jones (Colleagues), 10 – Dan Kelly (Colleagues), 11 – James Watson (Redfield Old Boys), 12 – Andrew Carroll (Beecroft), 13 – Damien Fakafanua (St Patrick’s), 14 – Cameron Beach (Colleagues), 15 – Gavin Duncan (Blue Mountains), 16 – Pat Simpson (Hunter Hill), 17 – Nathan Pyne (Lindfield), 18 – Vasa Vailaau (Petersham), 19 – Ryan James (Hawkesbury Ag), 20 – Matt Brewer (Hawkesbury Ag), 21 – Vilimone Turagarua (Hunters Hill), 22 – Andrew Watson (Redfield Old Boys), 23 – Matt Borg (Hawkesbury Ag), Coaches – Damon Baffico, Gerard McLenaghan & Kristian Forch, Manager – Damien Johnson, Physios – Andrew Donovan & Damien Johnson.


Cockatoos Round Up Brumbies Provincial

The NSW Country Cockatoos posted an impressive 48 – 5 win over the Brumbies Provincial XV in their annual clash at Anne Ashwood Oval, Bathurst on Saturday.

In wet and slippery conditions the Cockatoos from the kick off were keen to throw the ball around, and after sixteen minutes of play had raced out to a fifteen point lead, which had the visitors on the back foot from the start.

After weathering the initial onslaught the Brumbies Provincial XV tightened up their play and tried to work their way into the match, but the Cockatoos defence was up to the task and continually closed down the visitors attacking raids.

The Cockatoos were dominating the set pieces which was providing the backs with a steady stream of quality ball, and they were reposing with hard and straight running which continually had them getting over the gain line, and keeping the attack going forward.

The score-line was increased to twenty two nil with a fourth try in the twenty ninth minute, and it looked like the floodgates were going to open, but the Brumbies Provincial XV hung on and kept their line in tack until the half time break.

On the resumption of play the Cockatoos again went on the attack, and after five minutes of concerted pressure on the opposition’s line, they drove over to take the score out to twenty nine to nil.

The Brumbies Provincial XV finally gained some success ten minutes later when their winger crossed for an unconverted try in the corner, following a series of scrum engagements on the Cockatoos line.

This success was short lived as the Cockatoos went up a notch in both defence and attack, and in the final twenty five minutes of the match they piled on another nineteen points to wrap up the result.

The Cockatoos crossed for eight tries, which was an impressive performance given the conditions under foot, following a week of wet weather and heavy rain which had fallen on the eve of the match.

Players to stand out in an all-round team performance were Centre Simon Newton, Lock Chris Miller, Prop Alain Miriallakis, Flanker Michael Howell, Hooker Steve Lamont and Half Hack Adam McCormack.

The match was a good hit out for the Cockatoos in their build up for their big clashes in the coming weeks, which will see them play New South Wales Suburban in Sydney on 25 June, and Queensland Country in Toowoomba on 2 July.

NSW Country Cockatoos – 48


Simon Newton 2, Paul Tuala 2, Steve Lamont, Aaron Loudon, Adam McCormack & Filisione Pauta Tries
Ben Damen 3 & Rapine Mason Conversions

Defeated

Brumbies Provincial XV – 5


Riley Brennan Try


Cockatoos Gear for Brumbies Provincial

NSW Country Cockatoos hit the road this weekend and head to Bathurst to face off against the Brumbies Provincial, in what will be the team’s second match in their 2016 campaign.

The match will be the first for the Cockatoos since they played the Australian Under 20’s, and the team has been strengthened with the return of Steve Lamont (Hooker) and Paul Tuala (Flanker), together with the inclusion of Jason Keelan (Five Eight).

Cockatoos Coach Mat Thomas said “the match against the Australian Under 20’s, whilst having a lopsided score-line, was a great opportunity for the players to test themselves against players who were in the professional system, and it was a real eye opener for everyone”.

He went on to say “the Brumbies Provincial team is an unknown quantity, as the team was only selected after last weekend’s Brumbies Provincial Championships, and whilst they will only have had limited preparation, they won’t be taken lightly”.

Last year’s match in Canberra resulted in a win for the Cockatoos, but they will be looking to improve on that showing, as after setting up a handy lead they had to withstand a strong finish by the southerners to take out the match.

This weekend’s match for the Cockatoos will be the first in a three week back to back campaign, which next see them play NSW Suburban in Sydney on 25 June and Queensland Country in Toowoomba on 2 July.

The match will kick off at 3.15pm and will be played at Anne Ashwood Oval home of the Bathurst Bulldogs, and will be preceded by a full fixture of club rugby matches between the Bathurst and Forbes Rugby Clubs.

The Cockatoos will assemble in Bathurst on Friday, 17 June and following their training session they will be conducting a Junior Training Session with the Bathurst Junior Rugby Club at Anne Ashwood Oval commencing at 5.30pm.

Cockatoos
1 – Alex Wilson (Illawarra), 2 – Steve Lamont (Newcastle Hunter), 3 – Alain Miriallakis (Newcastle Hunter), 4 – Aaron Loudon (Illawarra), 5 – Niko Degei (Illawarra), 6 – Michael Howell (Newcastle Hunter), 7 – Paula Tuala (Illawarra), 8 – Joe Akkersdyk (Newcastle Hunter), 9 – Adam McCormack (Mid North Coast), 10 – Ben Damen (Far North Coast), 11 – Sireli Bainvalu (Newcastle Hunter), 12 – Simon Newton (Central North), 13 - Filisoni Pauta (Central West), 14 - Rhys Peters (Illawarra), 15 – Rapine Mason (Newcastle Hunter), 16 – Anthony Allport (Illawarra), 17 – Ben Christensen ( Newcastle Hunter), 18 – Charlie French (New England), 19 – Chris Miller (Central West), 20 – Harry Veitch (Newcastle Hunter), 21 – Mahe Fangupo (Central West), 22 – Jason Keelan (Newcastle Hunter), 23 – Sioni Halanukonuka (Central North), Coach – Mat Thomas, Assistant Coaches – Scott Coleman & Shaun McCreedy, Manager – Matt Waterford, Assistant Manager – Scott McKellar, Doctor – Ross Wilson, Physio – Ben Mahon.

Brumbies Provincial
1 – Dan Patu (Southern Inland), 2 – Tom Duston (Southern Inland), 3 – James Daley (Southern Inland), 4 – Matt Meggison (Southern Inland), 5 – Dan Dowson (Southern Inland), 6 – Tanian Naude (Southern Inland), 7 - Sam Bunny (Southern Inland), 8 – Andy Gosslett (South Coast), 9 – Stuart Dyer (Southern Inland), 10 – Steve Prail (Southern Inland), 11 – Riley Brennan (Southern Inland), 12 – Tino Manuolevao (Southern Inland), 13 – Gus Le Lievre (Southern Inland), 14 – Tom Bollard (Southern Inland), 15 – Steve Tracey (Southern Inland), 16 – James Bell (South Coast), 17 – Wes Malton (Monaro), 18 – Solomon Fili (Southern Inland), 19 – Ash Kenny (South Coast), 20 – Simon Vunilagi (Southern Inland), 21 – John Steele (South Coast), 22 – Bart Whiteley (Southern Inland), 23 – Siti Watkins (Southern Inland), Coach – Richard Skellern, Assistant Coach – Seru Rogo, Manager – Nick McCarthy, Trainer – Rob McPherson.


Tough Night at the Office for Cockatoos

It was a tough night at the office for the Cockatoos when they took on the Australian U20’s at Chatswood Oval on Saturday night.

The Australian U20’s in their last match before heading off to the World Cup in England, fine tuned their play with a 61 – 0 win over the NSW Country Cockatoos.

The opening fifteen minutes saw the young Wallabies race to a 21 – 0 lead, before the Cockatoos came to grips with the pace of the match and started to work their way into the game.

The remainder of the half saw the Cockatoos more than match the U20’s at the set piece, but it was at the breakdown that the young Wallabies were dominant, which repeatedly saw the Cockatoos’ scoring opportunities nullified.

With time up on the clock in the first half the U20’s launched an attacking raid in the Cockatoos twenty two, and after a series of drives at the line they crashed over for a converted try to go to the half time break leading 28 – 0.

The second half saw the Cockatoos continue to try and mount attacks, but the U20’s continued to dominate at the breakdown, and as a result they were able to mount pressure and put themselves in scoring positions.

The U20’s crossed for nine tries, with five of those being long arrange after they had either effected turnovers or forced the Cockatoos into error, which then saw them swing the ball wide to outpace the defence.

Cockatoos coach Mat Thomas whilst being disappointed by the end score-line was not disappointed by the effort put in by the Country players who participated in the match. He said “everyone needs to remember the Australian U20’s had just drawn a two match series with New Zealand, and had been in camp for several weeks preparing for the World Cup”.

He went on to say “the match was a great experience for the Cockatoos, as it exposed the players to a level of Rugby which they had not experienced in the past, and this would help with the team’s development leading into the reset of the program”.

The Cockatoos now have a two week break before they head into a three match series which will see them play the Brumbies Provincial in Bathurst on 18 June, NSW Suburban in Sydney on 25 June and Queensland Country in Toowoomba on 2 July.


Cockatoos Named for Australian U20's Match

It will be an even mix of new and old faces when the NSW Country Cockatoos run out to play the Australian U20’s on Saturday night.

Eleven new players have been selected in the team of twenty three to debut against the Australian U20’s, in what will be the hardest match for the Cockatoos in their four match 2016 campaign.

The players making their debuts will be well supported by twelve seasoned Cockatoos players who have all had extensive experience at playing at a senior representative level.

Selection in the Cockatoos team for the players followed on from their participation at the Country Championships in Armidale, and the recently conducted Training Camp in Sydney which was attended by thirty four players.

NSWCRU Executive Officer Terry Woodward said “selection of NSW Country Representative Teams was always a challenge given the nature of the demographics of the Union”. “This year’s debutants will join a core of experienced players who have gained selection, which will make things a little easier for the new coaching staff” he added.

New Cockatoos Coach Mat Thomas said “the players selected in the team, both new and old, all earned their spots following strong performances at the Country Championships and the Training Camp, with each player having to earn the right of selection”.

Thomas went on to say “it was pleasing to see that a number of the players selected in the Cockatoos had progressed through the Country Junior and Colts representative ranks, which showed there was a representative pathway via Country Rugby”.

                                    NSW COUNTRY COCKATOOS
                                                          Vs
                                         AUSTRALIAN U20’S
SATURDAY, 28 MAY 2016
CHATSWOOD OVAL, CHATSWOOD

No. / Position              Player                         Zone                            Club
1. L / H Prop          Charlie FRENCH         New England          St Alberts College
2. Hooker              Steve LAMONT          Newcastle Hunter         Hamilton
3. T / H Prop          lain MIRIALLAKIS       Newcastle Hunter      The Waratahs
4. L / Lock            Aaron LOUDON           Illawarra                     Shoalhaven
5. R / Lock            Niko DEGEI                 Illawarra                       Kiama
6. B / Flank           Michael HOWELL       Newcastle Hunter         Maitland
7. O / Flank           Paul TUALA                Illawarra         Wollongong University
8. No 8                  Joe AKKERSDYK         Newcastle Hunter         Hamilton
9. Scrumhalf          Adam McCORMACK    Mid North Coast          Hastings Valley
10. Fly half           Ben DAMEN          Far North Coast  Wollongbar Alstonville
11. L / Wing          Sireli BAINVALU         Newcastle Hunter       Hamilton
12. I / Centre        Simon NEWTON         Central North                  Walcha
13. O / Centre       Filsoni PAUTA            Central West       Dubbo Kangaroos
14. R / Wing           Rhys PETERS              Illawarra          Woonona Shamrocks
15. Fullback           Robert RICHARDSON Newcastle Hunter Merewether Carlton
16. Hooker             Anthony ALLPORT    Illawarra             Woonona Shamrocks
17. Prop              Ben CHRISTENSEN    Newcastle Hunter Newcastle Wanderers
18. Prop                Alex WILSON              Illawarra                     Shoalhaven
19. Lock                Chris MILLER              Central West                   Cowra
20. B/Row             Harry VEITCH              Newcastle Hunter          Hamilton
21. Scrum Half       Mahe FANGUPO          Central West                   Forbes
22. Utility Back     Sioni HALANUKONUKA Central North                 Walcha
23. Utility Back     Rapine MASON        Newcastle Hunter    Merewether Carlton

Coach: Mat Thomas
Assistant Coaches: Scott Colman & Shaun McCready
Manager: Matt Waterford
Assistant Manager: Scott McKellar
Doctor: David Cannon
Physio: Ben Mahon


Cockatoos Training Squad 2016

• Tyler Aitkin             llawarra                      Wollongong Uni
• Joe Akkersdyk        Newcastle Hunter      Hamilton
• Anthony Allport      Illawarra                     Woonona Shamrocks
• Sireli Bainvalu         Newcastle Hunter      Hamilton
• Oliver Bartlett         New England             St Alberts College
• Phil Bradford           Newcastle Hunter     Newcastle Wanderers
• Riley Byrne              Central West             Parkes
• Ben Christensen      Newcastle Hunter    Newcastle Wanderers
• Ben Damen              Far North Coast        Wollongbar Alstonville
• Niko Degei               Illawarra                   Kiama
• John Ellis                 Central West             Trangie
• Josh Ellis-Flint         Central West             Orange Emus
• Jerry Faifaise           Far North Coast        Wollongbar Alstonville
• Hahe Fangupo          Central West            Forbes
• Charles French          New England           St Alberts College
• Sioni Halanukonuka  Central North           Walcha
• Mitchell Howell         Newcastle Hunter    Maitland
• Nick Hughes-Clapp    Central West            Orange Emus
• Jason Keelan             Newcastle Hunter    Hamilton
• Steve Lamont            Newcastle Hunter    Hamilton
• Aaron Loudon            Illawarra                   Shoalhaven
• Rapine Mason            Newcastle Hunter    Merewether Carlton
• Adam McCormack      Mid North Coast        Hastings Valley
• Chris Miller                Central West             Cowra
• Alain Miriallakis         Newcastle Hunter     The Waratahs
• Simon Newton          Central North             Walcha
• Alyd Owen                 Illawarra                    Wollongong University
• Filisione Pauta           Central West              Dubbo Kangaroos
• Rhys Peters                Illawarra                    Woonona Shamrocks
• Nik Rangiuira             Illawarra                    Wollongong University
• Robert Richardson     Far North Coast         Wollongbar Alstonville
• Faava Sila                   Newcastle Hunter     Hamilton
• Paul Tuala                   Illawarra                    Wollongong University
• Harry Veitch               Far North Coast        Wollongbar Alstonville
• Alex Wilson                Illawarra                    Shoalhaven


Will Tanner for Sheridan

Ourimbah, Central Coast and NRMA NSW Country Cockatoos Flanker Brad Sheridan has been named as the 2015 New South Wales Country Rugby Union Player of the Year.

Sheridan was announced as the recipient of the Will Tanner Award at a presentation at Coogee following the Cockatoos last representative match of the 2015 season.

The Will Tanner Award is named in honour of former Cockatoos player Will Tanner who tragically lost his life in a horse riding accident on his Quirindi property in 1997.

Brad Sheridan has been a member of the Cockatoos playing squad for the last three years, but up until this year he had to play second fiddle to some seasoned campaigners, which restricted his match time.

He was a member of the Country Development Team which toured the United States last year, and it was on this tour that he really came into his own as a back-row forward.

This year he laid claim to the No 7 jersey from the start and in the process played every minute of the Cockatoos’ representative program, which included matches against NSW Suburban, Brumbies Provincial and Queensland Country.

He was a dominant presence at this year’s NRMA NSW Country Rugby Union Championships for the Central Coast, which led to his selection in the Cockatoos Squad and put him in line for selection for the Cockatoos’ representative matches.

Sheridan was a strong performer for the Cockatoos throughout their campaign, which saw him never far off the ball in defence which resulted in numerous pilfers, together with his trademark strong ball carries in attack.

Will Tanner Award points were allocated on a 3, 2 & 1 basis by a panel of judges for each of the Cockatoos’ matches, and Sheridan’s consistency in accumulating points in each match during the program saw him take out the award.

His winning of the award maintains the dominance forwards, in particular back-rowers, have had in the eighteen year history of the Will Tanner Award.

A late surge of points by Tom Azar (Centre) and Paul Tuala (Flanker) wasn’t enough to deny Brad Sheridan from claiming the 2015 NSW Country Rugby Union Player of the Year Award.

Will Tanner Winners

• 1998 – James Quinn (Lock) – Central North
• 1999 – Rod Petty (Halfback) – Illawarra
• 2000 – David Lubins (Lock) – Newcastle Hunter
• 2001 – James McCormack (Hooker) – Monaro
• 2002 – Nick Lavelle (Five Eight) – Central West
• 2003 – Anthony Gowing (Fullback) – Central West
• 2004 – Adam Winter (Lock) – Central Coast
• 2005 – Ross Duncan (Flanker) – Western Plains
• 2006 – Paul Elliott (Halfback) – Central West
• 2007 – Nick Leseberg (Lock) – Newcastle Hunter
• 2008 – Mike Te Moana (No 8) – New England
• 2009 – Mike Te Moana (No 8) – New England
• 2010 – Matt Waterford (Lock) – Central West
• 2011 – Sam Stewart (Centre) – Far North Coast
• 2012 – Josh Stewart (Flanker) – Central North
• 2013 – Paul Tuala (Flanker) – Illawarra
• 2014 – Gavin Holder (No 8) – Illawarra
• 2015 – Brad Sheridan (Flanker) – Central Coast


Cockatoos Reclaim Borders Cup

The NRMA NSW Country Cockatoos wound up their representative season with a 20 – 15 victory over the Queensland Country Heelers, which saw them regain the Battle of the Borders Cup.

Campbelltown Sportsground was the setting for the match which was the first between the two traditional Country teams for two years, and as has been the case in previous clashes there wasn’t much between the two on the scoreboard at full time.

The Cockatoos won the match on the back of a concerted defensive effort, which saw them having to defend strongly for lengthy periods of time throughout the match.

The match opened brightly for the Cockatoos when they crossed for a try in the third minute, which came about from a line-out win in the Heelers’ twenty two followed by a driving maul marching the ball up field, before flanker Paul Tuala broke off and powered over to take a 5 – 0 lead.

A relative easy conversion kick was missed which set the scene for a bad day for both teams’ kickers, as between them an assortment of kickers missed a total of ten attempts at goal during the match.

Another interesting statistic from the match was a player from each team, Waylen Skipps (NSW) and Brendan Morgan (Qld), both crossed for a hat trick of tries.

NSW’s early try stirred the Heelers into action and from the restart they quickly regained possession and for the next twenty minutes play was situated in the Cockatoos twenty two, with the majority of time being on the try line.

Time after time the Cockatoos either repelled the Heelers driving maul, or on several occasions held up the ball carrier over the line, and then fiercely contested the ensuing scrum engagement.

After withstanding the Heelers’ onslaught the Cockatoos worked play down field, and twenty one minutes into the match centre and player of the match Tom Azar crunched his opposite number which saw five eight Ben Damen swoop on the loose ball before sending fullback Waylen Skipps on a twenty metre run to cross in the corner.

The try wasn’t converted, but the Cockatoos had created some breathing space on the scoreboard by extending their lead to 10 – 0.

Queensland renewed their attacking raids but continued to be stopped by strong defence, and they ultimately they took a penalty goal kick at the thirty minute mark in an attempt to gain some rewards for their efforts, but it was waved away.

With time winding down to half time the Heelers finally cracked the Cockatoos defence line when their fullback returned a kick with a run which beat five tacklers before off loading to centre Brendan Morgan who crossed for an unconverted try.

This made the score 10 – 5 in favour of the Cockatoos and both teams went to the half time break.

The second half opened with the Cockatoos going on the attack and again they scored an early unconverted try. A driving maul from a lineout in the Heelers’ twenty two saw the ball carried forward, before it was put through the hands for Waylen Skipps to take the final pass and score.

This try saw the Cockatoos skip away to a 15 – 5 lead and it seemed they had weathered the Heelers’ attacks as they were starting to get the run of the play.

This all changed midway through the half as the Cockatoos couldn’t increase their lead, and the Heelers started to come back into the match.

A missed penalty goal attempt by the Heelers was quickly followed up by a try, when a turnover deep in the Cockatoos’ half saw the ball swung wide and centre Brendan Morgan scored an unconverted try to close the score-line to 15 – 10.

The Heelers had gained their second wind and continued to go on the attack, and at times it was only scrambling Cockatoos defence which saved the day. The Heelers were finally rewarded ten minutes later when they again forced a turnover and centre Brendan Morgan bagged his third try.

As the ground announcer said “Cockatoos 15 – Brendan Morgan 15, and it was game on with five minutes left to play.

With only minutes left on the clock the Cockatoos put the issue beyond doubt when they won a scrum on halfway, put the ball through the hands and with the inclusion of an extra man worked the overlap and, yes you guessed it, fullback Waylen Skipps crossed in the corner for an unconverted try to make the final score 20 – 15.

The restart only saw a short passage of play before the fulltime whistle was blown and the Cockatoos had won and regained the Battle of the Borders Cup.

Cockatoos’ coach Stacey Sykes was full of praise for the full squad of twenty three as he said “scoring points hasn’t been an issue for the team, but defence has, and this is something which was worked on and it was executed by the whole squad throughout the match”.

Tom Azar was voted player of the match, and he was well supported by lock Tyler Jones, Flankers Brad Sheridan and Paul Tuala together with Ben Damen and Waylen Skipps in the backs.

NRMA NSW Country Cockatoos – 20
Waylen Skipps 3, Paul Tuala Tries

Defeated

Queensland Country Heelers - 15
Brendan Morgan 3 Tries


Battle of the Borders Up for Grabs

One of the longest inter-state rivalries in Australian Rugby will be reignited this weekend when the NRMA NSW Country Cockatoos play the Queensland Country Heelers.

The match will be hosted by the Campbelltown Rugby Club at Campbelltown Showground on Saturday, 4 July 2015 with the match kicking off at 1.30pm.

Both the New South Wales and Queensland Country Rugby Unions have long histories and proud traditions, and any fixture between the two Unions always has the makings for a fiercely contested match.

With the Battle of the Borders Cup up for grabs both teams will be keen to take out the match, as the Heelers will be trying to retain the Cup while the Cockatoos will be hell bent on lifting it from the northerners’ possession.

This will be the first time in two years the cup has gone up for grabs, as due to a multitude of reasons the Heelers weren’t able to play in 2014, which didn’t sit too well with the Cockatoos who were denied the opportunity to reclaim the cup.

Little is known about the Queensland Country Heelers other than the players have been involved in the recent Queensland Country Championships, so they will be match fit. The Heelers will once again be coached by former Wallaby Garrick Morgan, who over the last couple of years has had the Heelers primed for the important matches.

Whilst the Heelers will be an unknown quantity to the Cockatoos, the Cockatoos will also be a new look team for the Heelers, as only two players, Brad Sheridan (Flanker) and Eli Sinoti (Winger), were in the team when they last clashed in 2013.

2015 has seen the Cockatoos go through a rebuilding year with nineteen players pulling on the Burnt Gold Jersey for the first time in 2015, so past performances and results will mean little to both teams.

The Cockatoos this year have had a mixed season in their short program, which has seen them come up short against NSW Suburban and overcome a never say die Brumbies Provincial, so the Heelers match will see the team finish 2 & 1 or 1 & 2 for the season.

Cockatoos’ Coach Stacey Sykes whilst pleased with the improved attacking performance against the Brumbies Provincial, but he will be looking for a more concerted effort in defence, as the Brumbies Provincial were able to work their way back into the match after the Cockatoos built up a handy lead.

Andrew Barrett and Eli Sinoti return to the backline after missing the Brumbies Provincial match, while Benn Wright will make his debut in the forwards following the withdrawal of Mark Minter.

All in all it will be an interesting and exciting clash which promises plenty of action as both teams in the past have thrown the ball around in an effort to gain the upper hand and take home the Battle of the Borders Cup.

NRMA NSW Country Cockatoos
Joe Akkersdyk (Newcastle Hunter), Tom Azar (Western Plains), Sireli Bainvalu (Newcastle Hunter), Andrew Barrett (Illawarra), Ben Christensen (Newcastle Hunter), Ben Damen (Far North Coast), Ben Egan (Western Plains), Jerry Faifaise (Far North Coast), Tyler Jones (Central Coast), Steve Lamont (Newcastle Hunter), Rapini Mason (Illawarra), Adam McCormack (Mid North Coast), Richard Quigley (Western Plains), Andrew Rae (Illawarra), Matt Schwager (Central North), Brad Sheridan (Central Coast), Eli Sinoti (Illawarra), Waylen Skipps (Mid North Coast), Andrew Tuala (Newcastle Hunter), Paul Tuala (Illawarra), Eric Vasukickau (Newcastle Hunter), Blake Walsh (Newcastle Hunter), Benn Wright (Central West).


Cockatoos Claim Provincial Scalp

The NRMA NSW Country Cockatoos returned to the winners circle with an improved performance to overcome the Brumbies Provincial Representative Team 39 – 27.

The match was played as the curtain raiser to the Brumbies v Crusaders SupeRugby Match at Canberra Stadium on Saturday, 13 June 2015.

Canberra turned on perfect weather for the early afternoon kick off, and both teams responded by playing an attacking and free flowing brand of Rugby, which resulted in eleven tries being scored during the match.

The early stages of the first half were keenly contested and the deadlock was finally broken when Flanker Brad Sheridan powered over to give the Cockatoos a 5 – 0 lead. The missed conversion was an ominous warning for the Cockatoos, as their kickers eventually only managed to pilot over two goals from eight kicks.

A penalty goal to the Brumbies Provincial soon after closed the score-line to 5 – 3, before Sheridan was on hand again to touch down for a try to take out the Cockatoos’ lead to 10 – 3.

Both teams attacked strongly and treated the early patrons to some good running Rugby, but both defences were up to the task of keeping their lines in tack. This changed with fifteen minutes remaining in the half when the team from the south crossed for a converted try which locked the score up at 10 all.

This score spurred the Cockatoos into attack and during the remainder of the half they were the dominant team with Winger Mason Rapini and Flanker Paul Tuala crossing for tries which were duly converted by Waylen Skipps to see the Cockatoos go to the half time break leading 24 – 10.

The second half saw the Cockatoos continue on where they left off and the score was increased to 29 – 10 when Lock Tyler Jones scored, but the kicking woes returned for the team.

A converted try to the Brumbies Provincial closed the score to 29 – 17, but the Cockatoos responded with another unconverted try to Flanker Paul Tuala to take the score out to 34 – 17. Another converted try and penalty goal to the Brumbies Provincial brought the score back to 34 – 27 and the team from the south had worked themselves to within striking distance with time on the clock.

The Cockatoos reacted strongly and put the result beyond doubt when Centre Eric Vasukicakau finished off an attacking raid to make the final score-line 39 – 27 to the NRMA NSW Country Cockatoos.

The match had been played at a hectic pace and the Cockatoos had scored seven tries in an impressive attacking display, but there were concerns over the lack of success with goal kicking which continually invited the Brumbies Provincial back into the match.

Players’ Player was awarded to Flanker Paul Tuala, while Flanker Brad Sheridan, Lock Tyler Jones and debut Winger Sireli Bainvalu all figured strongly in the voting.

The Cockatoos will now have a couple of weeks off before they play the Queensland Country Heelers for the Battle of the Borders Cup at Campbelltown on Saturday, 4 July 2015.

NRMA NSW Country Cockatoos – 39
Brad Sheridan 2, Paul Tuala 2, Sireli Bainvalu, Rapini Mason & Eric Vasukicakau Tries
Waylen Skipps 2 Conversions

Defeated

Brumbies Provincial - 27
4 Tries, 2 Conversions & Penalty Goal


Errors hurt Cockatoos

A multitude of errors hurt the NRMA NSW Country Cockatoos in their opening match of the 2015 representative season at Drummoyne Oval on Saturday.

Even allowing for the disappointing performance the Cockatoos nearly pulled the result out of the fire, but eventually went down 24 – 18 to NSW Suburban who regained the Maher Ross Cup ending a two year drought.

The Cockatoos opened strongly and dominated possession and field position, and after 10 minutes of play had jumped out to 6 – 0 lead on the boot of five eight Blake Creighton. This lead could have been increased, with two other penalty goal attempts missing the mark and a try scoring opportunity going begging.

The let offs allowed Subbies back into the match, and after weathering the early Cockatoos attacks they closed the gap to 6 – 5 when they scored a well constructed unconverted try in the 25th minute.

This score again stirred the Cockatoos into action and they responded with an unconverted try to flanker Brad Sheridan as a result of a driving maul from a lineout which took the score to 11 – 5 in favour of the Cockatoos.

Country continued to attack for the remainder of the half but strong Subbies defence, especially at the breakdown which saw several turnovers, and lost opportunities at the lineout saw the score remain unchanged to the half time break.

The second half saw Subbies go on the front foot from the kick off, and after 4 minutes they crossed for a converted try to take the lead 12 – 11, a lead they never conceded for the remainder of the match.

Subbies continued to apply the pressure which started to have an effect on the Cockatoos, which saw unforced errors start to creep into the play and Subbies grabbed the opportunity by crossing for another unconverted try in the 17th minute of the half to increase their lead to 17 – 11.

Following this score the Cockatoos had the better of the play for the next 15 minutes, but the errors continued to mount which continued to let Subbies work their way out of the danger zone.

Subbies looked to have wrapped up the match when they scored a converted try in the 33rd minute to go out to a 24 – 11 lead, but the Cockatoos continued to mount attacks and with minutes left on the clock winger Eric Vasukicakau crossed for a try which was converted by replacement centre Rapine Mason to close the score-line to 24 – 18.

The Cockatoos went on the attack from the restart, but the Subbies defence continued to hold strong and they held on to take the match and regain the Maher Ross Cup.

Winger Eli Sinoti was awarded the Players Player, while flanker Brad Sheridan, No 8 Joe Akkersdyk, Flanker Tyler Jones and halfback Matt Schwager all tried hard in a beaten team.

The Cockatoos will now regroup before heading to Canberra to play the Brumbies Provincial at Canberra Stadium on Saturday, 13 June 2015.

NSW Suburban – 24
Ben Borg, Sebastian Burfitt, Cronan Healy & Dan Kelly Tries
Dan Kelly 2 Conversions

Defeated

NRMA NSW Country Cockatoos – 18
Brad Sheridan & Eric Vasukicakau Tries
Blake Creighton 2 Penalty Goals & Rapine Mason Conversion


Changing of the Cockatoos Guard

It will be a new look NRMA NSW Country Cockatoos team which takes on NSW Suburban in the annual clash at Drummoyne Oval on Saturday, 23 May 2015.

In what will be a changing of the guard seventeen players will be making their debut for the Cockatoos in the opening match of the 2015 representative season.

Whilst it will be a new look Cockatoos team which takes to the field, there will be a wealth of experience in the playing ranks, with several key players having previously played premiership rugby, both locally and overseas.

The new look Cockatoos were selected following the Country Championships and is made up of players who performed at the championships, and each come into the team with that form on the board.

NSWCRU Executive Officer Terry Woodward said “whilst there were a large number of new players, this wasn’t unusual for Country Rugby given the nature of the demographics of the Union”. “Players come and go in cycles and this year sees a large turnover, which is due to retirements, transfers, unavailability and non selection due to form” he added.

New NRMA Cockatoos Coach Stacey Sykes said “each of the players selected in the team all earned their spots following strong performances at the Country Championships, and collectively they will form a very strong team”.

The NRMA NSW Country Cockatoos will be looking to extend their winning run over Subbies to three on the trot, and in the process retain the Maher Ross Cup which honours the former presidents of the two unions Laurie Maher (NSWCRU) and Ian Ross (NSWSRU).

Both the Cockatoos and Subbies will go into the match without a run under their belts, but both teams have had strong preparations and the match is sure to go right down to the wire as have the clashes in previous years.


       NRMA NSW COUNTRY COCKATOOS

                           Vs

       NSW SUBURBAN RUGBY UNION

           SATURDAY 23 MAY 2015

     DRUMMOYNE OVAL, DRUMMOYNE

                         3.00pm       

  No/Position
        Player           Zone
            Club

1. L / H Prop

Dan Christensen

 Newcastle Hunter

Newcastle Wanderers

2. Hooker

Andrew Tuala

  Newcastle Hunter

Newcastle Wanderers

3. T / H Prop

Mark Minter

      Illawarra

        Camden

4. L / Lock

Ben Egan

    Western Plains

        Warren

5. R / Lock

Andrew Rae

    Illawarra

        University

6. B / Flank

Tyler Jones

   Central Coast

        Ourimbah

7. O / Flank

Brad Sheridan

    Central Coast

        Ourimbah

8. No 8

Joe Akkersdyk

 Newcastle Hunter

          Hamilton

9. Scrumhalf

Matt Schwager

    Central North

          Narrabri

10. Fly half

Blake Creighton

  Newcastle Hunter

  Merewether Carlton

11. L / Wing

Eli Sinoti

     Illawarra

      Avondale

12. I / Centre

Tom Azar

    Western Plains

        Warren 

13. O / Centre

Jake Douglas

   Central North

     Tamworth Pirates

14. R / Wing

Eric Vasukickau

   Newcastle Hunter

        Hamilton

15. Fullback

Andrew Barrett

      Illawarra

   Wollongong Vikings

16. Hooker

Daniel Hilton

     Central Coasy

       Terrigal

17. Prop

Richard Quigley

    Western Plains

        Warren

18. Prop

Blake Walsh

  Newcastle Hunter

  Newcastle Wanderers

19. Lock

Tim Windle

     Illawarra

        Camden

20. Back Row

Jerry Faifaise

   Far North Coast

 Wollongbar Alstonville

21. Utility Back

Jay Strachan

  Newcastle Hunter

 Merewether Carlton

22. Utility Back

Ben Damen

   Far North Coast

 Wollongbar Alstonville

23. Utility Back

Rapine Mason

     Illawarra

       Avondale

Coach: Stacey Sykes
Assistant Coach: Phil Green
Manager: Matt Waterford
Assistant Manager: George Connaughton
Doctors: David Cannon
Physio: Ben Mahon

Dated: 21 May 2015


Holder Named Player of the Year

Camden, Illawarra and GrainCorp NSW Country Cockatoos No 8 and Captain Gavin Holder has been named the 2014 New South Wales Country Rugby Union Player of the Year.

Holder was announced as the recipient of the Will Tanner Award at a presentation in Adelaide following the Cockatoos last representative match of the 2014 season.

The Will Tanner Award is named in honour of former Cockatoos player Will Tanner who tragically lost his life in a horse riding accident on his Quirindi property in 1997.

Gavin Holder has had a long and distinguished association with New South Wales Country Rugby Union which dates back to 2008 when he captained the Cockatoos to win the Australian Rugby Shield.

Since then he has been a consistent player for the Cockatoos and has always been prominent for the Will Tanner Award, but up until this season has always come up short in the final tally of the votes.

He once again was a dominant presence at this year’s NRMA NSW Country Rugby Union Championships for Illawarra, which led to his selection in the Cockatoos Squad and appointment as captain of the team for the representative season.

Holder led the Cockatoos with distinction during the representative program, and his strong ball carrying and solid defence saw him poll Will Tanner Award points in each of the team’s matches during the season.

Will Tanner Award Points were allocated on a 3, 2 & 1 basis by a panel of judges for each of the Cockatoos’ matches against NSW Suburban, Australian U20’s, Australian Combined Services and Adelaide.

Going into the last match against the Black Falcons in Adelaide, Holder was locked in a three way battle with his back-row team mates Josh Stewart and Paul Tuala who had both previously won the Will Tanner Award.

Holder completely dominated the voting in the match by topping the count from each of the judges to complete a landslide victory to claim the Will Tanner Award from Josh Stewart and Paul Tuala.

Will Tanner Winners

• 1998 – James Quinn – Central North
• 1999 – Rod Petty – Illawarra
• 2000 – David Lubins – Newcastle Hunter
• 2001 – James McCormack – Monaro
• 2002 – Nick Lavelle – Central West
• 2003 – Anthony Gowing – Central West
• 2004 – Adam Winter – Central Coast
• 2005 – Ross Duncan – Western Plains
• 2006 – Paul Elliott – Central West
• 2007 – Nick Leseberg – Newcastle Hunter
• 2008 – Mike Te Moana – New England
• 2009 – Mike Te Moana – New England
• 2010 – Matt Waterford – Central West
• 2011 – Sam Stewart – Far North Coast
• 2012 – Josh Stewart – Central North
• 2013 – Paul Tuala – Illawarra
• 2014 – Gavin Holder - Illawarra


Cockatoos Finish Season on High

The GrainCorp NSW Country Cockatoos have finished their representative season on a high with a comprehensive 65 – 13 win over the Adelaide Black Falcons.

The match was played at Gleneagles Reserve, Woodville on Saturday, 12 July and was the last in the Cockatoos four match program, which saw them register three wins and a loss.

With the temperature hovering very close to freezing point it took the Cockatoos quite a considerable period of time to warm to the task and get the better of the Black Falcons who kept applying themselves throughout the match.

Each team posted a penalty goal in the opening ten minutes in what was a testing period by both teams, before the Cockatoos crossed for a converted try to take a 10 – 3 lead when halfback Adam McCormack dashed ten metres unopposed from a ruck.

Adelaide came back strongly and on the back of a string of penalties against the Cockatoos for indiscretions at the breakdown, where able to apply pressure which forced errors and turnovers.

Indiscriminate kicking started to creep into the Cockatoos game, and at the nineteenth minute mark a misdirected kick fell into the hands of a flying Black Falcons winger who was able to outpace the defence to score in the corner to make the score 10 – 8 to the Cockatoos.

This score jolted the Cockatoos into action and on the back of some storming forward play led by lock and Match of the Match Hayden Tidswell, Fullback Ben Damen and Winger Eli Sinoti crossed for converted tries in the next eight minutes to take the Cockatoos out to a 24 – 8 lead.

The Black Falcons continued to apply pressure and had some good passages of play, but the Cockatoos defence held tight and they were unable to post any additional points.

Right on the stroke of halftime and with the Black Falcons on the attack, a crunching mid field tackle saw the ball jolted free, and Centre Filisoni Patua swooped on the loose ball to race fifty metres to score a converted try to take the Cockatoos to a 31 – 8 lead at the halftime break.

The second half saw the Black Falcons come out with renewed vigour, and at the forty five minute mark on the back of several Cockatoos penalties drove over for a try to make the score 31 – 13.

Adelaide continued to apply pressure, but they were unable to convert it into points and at the fifty eighth and sixty fourth minute marks Centre Andrew Barrett and Breakaway Josh Stewart powered across to increase the Cockatoos lead to 43 – 13.

The Cockatoos were really starting to get on a roll and the Black Falcons were starting to feel the pinch in both attack and defence, with turnovers being affected and breaks being made.

The floodgates finally opened in the last ten minutes when the Cockatoos went on a twenty two point scoring spree, which saw Five Eight Ben Greentree, Centre Filisone Patua (2) and Winger Eli Sinoti cross for tries to make the final scoreline 65 – 13.

Standout players were Lock Hayden Tidswell, No 8 Gavin Holder, Prop James Smith, Centre Filisoni Patua and Winger Eli Sinoti, but the squad as a whole all contributed towards the win.

GrainCorp NSW Country Cockatoos – 65

Filisoni Patua 3, Eli Sinoti 2, Andrew Barrett, Ben Damen, Ben Greentree, Adam McCormack & Josh Stewart Tries
Ben Damen 1 Penalty Goal & 6 Conversions

Defeated

Adelaide Black Falcons – 13

2 Tries & Penalty Goal

Cockatoos Squad v Adelaide Black Falcons

Andrew Barrett (Wollongong Vikings), Scott Burgess (Dubbo Roos), Ben Damen (Wollongbar Alstonville), Mahe Fangupo (Parkes), Ben Greentree (Camden), Mitch Hardy (Shoalhaven), Gavin Holder (Camden), Matt King (Ourimbah), Steve Lamont (Hamilton), Adam McCormack (Hastings Valley), Mark Minter (Camden), Peter Nau (Dubbo Roos), Filisone Patua (Dubbo Roos), Chris Plunkett (Bathurst), Dan Ryan (Parkes), Eli Sinoti (Avondale), James Smith (Shoalhaven), Josh Stewart (Tamworth Pirates), Joe Taylor (Terrigal), Hayden Tidswell (Bathurst), Paul Tuala (Wollongong University) & Amoni Vea (Parkes).


Cockatoos Fly South

Following on from the decision by the Queensland Country Rugby Union to cancel the annual Cockatoos v Blue Heelers clash, the GrainCorp NSW Country Cockatoos will now “fly south for the winter” to South Australia to take on the Adelaide Black Falcons.

The match against the Black Falcons will be the first between NSWCRU and SARU since the Australian Rugby Shield clash in 2008, which saw the Cockatoos claim the ARS Shield in what was the last ever match in that competition.

So far this season the GrainCorp NSW Country Cockatoos have retained the Maher / Ross Cup from NSW Suburban at Terrigal, claimed the inaugural Geoff Richardson Cup over Australian Services in Singleton and experienced the power and pace of the Australian U20’s at Chatswood.

This will be the first match for the Cockatoos in six weeks, but with spots up for grabs on the USA Tour later in the year, the players and team will be keen to finish the season on a high.

Cockatoos Coach Shannon Fraser is confident the team will slip back into gear after the break, but is aware he will be missing a few players due to work, injury or suspension.

Auvasa Falealli (Halfback), Lachlan McCutcheon (Lock), Lee Russell (Centre) and Andre Itula (Winger) will not be making the trip south, but replacements have been brought in from the extended squad and from the Cockatoo Colts.

Colts Halfback Matthew King from the Central Coast has been called up to the Cockatoos for the Black Falcons’ match, which once again shows the representative pathway exists for players via NSW Country Rugby Union.

Shannon Fraser said “whilst it was disappointing some players were unavailable, it was a fact of life with Country Rugby, and that he was confident the replacement players would more than do the job for the Cockatoos”.

“The Adelaide Black Falcons are an unknown quantity, but traditionally they have always extended the Cockatoos, and the Cockatoos won’t be taking them lightly in what will be their last match of the season” added Fraser.

The GrainCorp NSW Country Cockatoos v Adelaide Black Falcons match will be played on Saturday, 12 July 2014 at Gleneagles Reserve, Woodville kicking off at 7.30pm.

Cockatoos Squad v Adelaide Black Flacons

Andrew Barrett (Wollongong Vikings), Scott Burgess (Dubbo Roos), Ben Damen (Wollongbar Alstonville), Mahe Fangupo (Parkes), Ben Greentree (Camden), Mitch Hardy (Shoalhaven), Gavin Holder (Camden), Matt King (Ourimbah), Steve Lamont (Hamilton), Adam McCormack (Hastings Valley), Mark Minter (Camden), Peter Nau (Dubbo Roos), Filiasone Patua (Dubbo Roos), Chris Plunkett (Bathurst), Dan Ryan (Parkes), Eli Sinoti (Avondale), James Smith (Shoalhaven), Josh Stewart (Tamworth Pirates), Joe Taylor (Terrigal), Hayden Tidswell (Bathurst), Paul Tuala (Wollongong University) & Amoni Vea (Parkes).


Cockatoos in Solid Win Over Services

In what could be best described as a solid win, the GrainCorp NSW Country Cockatoos have claimed the inaugural Geoff Richardson Cup following their 48 – 21 victory over Australian Services on Saturday.

The match was the first between the two Union’s for over a decade and both sides were keen to claim the cup which had been named in honour of Geoff Richardson who had represented both Unions during the late sixties and early seventies.

Venue for the match was Singleton Rugby Park which has a strong tradition in Country Rugby having previously hosted numerous Country representative matches on an international scale.

The Cockatoos started strongly by forcing a turnover from the kick off and straight away went on the attack, but this was quickly undone when a loose pass was intercepted and the ASRU winger went for a seventy metre dash down field.

A great covering tackle saved the day, but ASRU where on the attack and it required very solid defence to hold them out, which eventually saw their ball carrier bundled into touch.

The ensuing lineout win and two relieving penalties saw the Cockatoos slowly but surely work the play down field, and after five minutes flanker Paul Tuala was on hand out wide to cross for an unconverted try to have the Cockatoos lead 5 – 0.

This lead was very short lived, as from the restart another loose pass by the Cockatoos saw the ASRU centre take another intercept to cross for a converted try and take the lead 7 – 5.

The Cockatoos immediately struck back and after securing the ball worked play into the ASRU twenty two, and once again Paul Tuala was on hand to cross wide out, but in an attempt to improve the position for the conversion was held up.

This was the first of three occasions in the first half when the Cockatoos crossed the ASRU line, only to be held up or have the ball dislodged when trying to score the try.

This sparked the Cockatoos into action and from the ensuing scrum centre Lee Russell crashed over for a try which was converted by fullback Ben Damen to reclaim the lead 12 – 7.

Two minutes later the Cockatoos extended their lead to 19 – 7 when centre Filisone Patua backed up a fifty metre run by winger Andre Itula to score which was converted by Ben Damen.

The Cockatoos continued to attack and in the space of fifteen minutes either lost the ball over the line, dropped the ball with the line wide open or were held up over the line, which had the potential to increase the lead by twenty one points.

The situation was finally rectified right on half time when No 8 Gavin Holder bust up field, off loaded to Andre Itula who in turn passed to Filisoni Pauta who scored for an unconverted try in the corner to make the half time score 24 – 7 to the Cockatoos.

Both coaches gave their respective teams a rev up during the break, as ASRU came out firing in the second half and immediately put the Cockatoos under pressure. However, they were overzealous on several occasions and the Cockatoos were able to weather the storm.

Five minutes into the half the Cockatoos won a lineout against the throw and prop James Smith stormed up field to start a great passage of play which saw Filisoni Patua cross for a converted try after the ball had been handled by flanker Josh Stewart and five eight Ben Greentree to increase the lead to 31 – 7.

Three minutes later Gavin Holder took the ball off the back of a scrum before a series of passes between Tuala, half back Auvasa Falealli, and Greentree saw Falealli score wide out to make the score line 36 – 7.

The Cockatoos were really getting on a roll, with every attacking raid by ASRU being nullified by strong defence, which resulted in turnovers and more possession. One of these turnovers saw replacement centre Andrew Barrett storm onto a short pass and be pulled down short of the line, but Josh Stewart was on hand to pick up and drive over next to posts for a converted try to take the score out to 43 – 7.

ASRU were trying everything in attack and couldn’t be faulty for their commitment, and they were eventually rewarded when a lineout win ten metres from the Cockatoos line saw them construct a well executed driving maul to cross for a converted try to slightly close the scoring gap to 43 – 14.

The next five minutes of the match saw ASRU take two intercepts, with one resulting in their winger racing eighty metres to score a converted try make the score 43 – 21.

With the match entering the final stages the Cockatoos rounded off the scoring when Josh Stewart finished off a series of pick and drives to cross for his second try to make the final score 48 – 21.

Match vision is available by accessing the Country webpage www.nswcountryrugby.com.au and clicking on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Q9Tsubl6D4&feature=share

GrainCorp NSW Country Cockatoos – 48

Filisoni Pauta 3, Josh Stewart 2, Auvasa Falealli, Lee Russell & Paul Tuala Tries
Ben Damen 3 & Ben Greentree Conversions
Defeated

Australian Services Rugby Union – 21

Alex Brown, Joven Clarke & Daryl Seden Ties
Jared Lewthwaithe 3 Conversions

Cockatoos Squad v Australian Services

Andrew Barrett (Wollongong Vikings), Ben Damen (Wollongbar Alstonville), Auvasa Falealli (Hamilton), Ben Greentree (Camden), Gavin Holder (Camden), Andre Itula (Avondale), Ryan Jackson (Scone), Steve Lamont (Hamilton), Adam McCormack (Hastings Valley), Lachie McCutcheon (Narromine), Mark Minter (Camden), Peter Nau (Dubbo Roos), Donovan Nepia (Wollongong University), Filisone Patua (Dubbo Roos), Lee Russell (Camden), Dan Ryan (Parkes), Eli Sinoti (Avondale), James Smith (Shoalhaven), Josh Stewart (Tamworth Pirates), Joe Taylor (Terrigal), Hayden Tidswell (Bathurst), Paul Tuala (Wollongong University) & Amoni Vea (Parkes).


Country & Services Resume Hostilities

Two of Australian Rugby’s traditional Unions will resume competition against one another this weekend when the GrainCorp NSW Country Cockatoos play the Australian Services Warriors.

The match will be played on Saturday, 31 May at Singleton Rugby Park kicking off at 2.00pm, and will the first time the two teams have met in over a decade.

NSWCRU Executive Officer Terry Woodward said “matches against Australian Services had always been on the Country Rugby calendar, but changes in policies and the deployment of services personnel overseas had resulted in the annual match being put on hold for over ten years”.

“This year the match has been reinstated and it’s hoped it will again become an annual fixture, as both Unions acknowledge the history and importance of the event” added Woodward.

This year’s match will have added significance with the teams to compete for the Geoff Richardson Cup, named in honour of the former Wallaby fullback who played for both Australian Services and NSW Country during the 60’s and 70’s.

GrainCorp NSW Country Cockatoos will be playing their third match in their 2014 four match campaign, and are currently one and one following a win over arch rivals NSW Suburban and a loss to a red hot Australian U20’s.

The ASRU team has just been selected following the annual services championships involving teams from the Army, Navy and Air Force, but a week long training camp and a match against NSW Suburban will have them primed for this weekend’s clash.

This week will see the Cockatoos field two new players in the form of five eight Ben Damen (Wollongbar Alstonville) and lock Hayden Tidswell (Bathurst), while tighthead prop James Smith (Shoalhaven) returns from military duty.

Cockatoos Coach Shannon Fraser said “selection in the Cockatoos team continues to be hotly contested from match to match, with each player in the extended training squad knowing the opportunity exists for them to earn a call up”.

He went on to say “twenty six players had been used in the three matches played to date, which reinforced Country’s policy of selecting the best possible team available for each match”.

Cockatoos Squad v Australian Services

Andrew Barrett (Wollongong Vikings), Ben Damen (Wollongbar Alstonville), Auvasa Falealli (Hamilton), Ben Greentree (Camden), Gavin Holder (Camden), Andre Itula (Avondale), Ryan Jackson (Scone), Steve Lamont (Hamilton), Adam McCormack (Hastings Valley), Lachie McCutcheon (Narromine), Mark Minter (Camden), Peter Nau (Dubbo Roos), Donovan Nepia (Wollongong University), Filisone Patua (Dubbo Roos), Lee Russell (Camden), Dan Ryan (Parkes), Eli Sinoti (Avondale), James Smith (Shoalhaven), Josh Stewart (Tamworth Pirates), Joe Taylor (Terrigal), Hayden Tidswell (Bathurst), Paul Tuala (Wollongong University) & Amoni Vea (Parkes).


Aussie U20's Burn Cockatoos

The GrainCorp NSW Country Cockatoos ended up on the wrong end of the score board in their recent match against the Australian U20’s at Chatswood Oval.

The World Cup bound young Aussies had too much control and pace for the Cockatoos to run in seven tries to one, and take out the match 53 – 5.

An impressive opening five minute stanza by the Cockatoos saw them launch a series of attacking raids in the U20’s twenty two, but it all came to nought when they knocked on and compounded the error with a scrum penalty.

This was the first of twenty eight penalties issued by the referee during the match, twenty two of which being against the Cockatoos, which ultimately saw three players (Cockatoos – 2 and U20’s – 1) sent to the sin bin.

The bright start by the Cockatoos was nullified the first time the U20’s got their hands on the ball, as from a lineout win just inside their half the resulting mid field bust saw a two on one situation and the U20’s went to a 7 – 0 lead.

The U20’s lead was extended to 10 – 0 five minutes later when a forty metre penalty goal attempt sailed between the uprights and disappeared over the fence.

Two minutes later the Cockatoos were awarded their first penalty of the match, but the close range penalty goal attempt was waved away much to the disappointment of the Cockatoos supporters.

The standard of play was high with both sides holding nothing back in the defence department, but the Cockatoos continued to be on the wrong side of the referees arm when penalties were being awarded.

This finally took its toll and the U20’s were able to construct a driving maul from a five metre line out win to cross for their second converted try to increase their lead to 17 – 0.

The next fifteen minutes saw the Cockatoos have the better of the play, with winger Eli Sinoti standing out with several sidestepping runs, but the U20’s defence held tight.

The Cockatoos backrow of Holder, Stewart and Tuala were working overtime, but their hard work was negated with another penalty and the ensuing successful forty five metre penalty goal took the U20’s out to a 20 – 0 lead.

Things deteriorated for the Cockatoos five minutes later when hooker Steve Lamont was sent to the sin bin, and the U20’s capitalised two minutes later to cross for their third converted try to go to the break leading 27 – 0.

A bad kick off saw the Cockatoos put themselves immediately under pressure at the start of the second half, but two consecutive penalties enabled them to get back on the front foot with line breaks by five eight Ben Greentree and Flanker Paul Tuala taking play deep into the U20’s half.

Once again penalties relieved the pressure for the U20’s, but Tuala again came to the fore with a turnover and a great charge back up field, but the U20’s defence held.

Ten minutes into the half the U20’s won a lineout right on halfway and the ball was put through the hands, which resulted in their winger showing a clean pair of heels to cross for a try in the corner to take the score-line out to 32 – 0.

The next fifteen minutes were the best in the match for the Cockatoos, which saw them mount pressure on the back of several great runs, two in particular by wingers Eli Sinoti and Andre Itula.

During this period they were able to get over the try line on two occasions but were held up by a determined U20’s defence who were keen to keep their line in tack.

The Cockatoos continued to mount pressure and after the U20’s were penalised on three occasions on their line, a yellow card was issued against their flanker. A kick tap saw the Cockatoos forwards drive replacement halfback Auvasa Falealli over for a try to make the score 32 – 5.

This was the end of the scoring for the Cockatoos, as the U20’s went to their strength and spun the ball wide on two occasions to cross for two converted tries in the space of two minutes to increase the score to 46 – 5.

With the match entering the final five minutes, the string of penalties against the Cockatoos continued and replacement lock Mitch Hardy was sent to the sin bin.

The U20’s immediately applied the pressure, and in the last seconds of the match they crossed for a converted try to make the final score 53 – 5.

Whilst disappointed with the final score line Cockatoos Coach Shannon Fraser couldn’t fault the commitment of the players, and highlighted the fact they were playing the National U20 Team.

Standout Players Player for the Cockatoos was Wollongong University Flanker Paul Tuala who was everywhere in both attack and defence.

The Cockatoos next match will be on Saturday, 31 May 2014 against Australian Services at Singleton Rugby Park kicking off at 2.00pm.


Cockatoos Prepare for Australian U20’s

The GrainCorp NSW Country Cockatoos come into camp on Friday to prepare for their match against the Australian U20’s at Chatswood on Saturday.

There preparation will be a lot shorter than that of the National Team, who have been in camp for several weeks which included two matches against Queensland based teams last week.

The Cockatoos come into the match with a lot of confidence and form on the board following their three tries to one 20 – 10 win over NSW Suburban last weekend at Terrigal.

Mark Minter comes into the squad to replace tighthead prop James Smith who is unavailable due to military commitments, so with only the one change the Cockatoos will field a settled team.

Cockatoos Coach Shannon Fraser is under no illusions of what his team will be up against, as he said “the team the U20’s will field will be the team which will play in the opening match of the 2014 U20 World Cup in New Zealand”.

He went on to say “the match would provide a great opportunity for the Country players to showcase themselves against an opposition they rarely get the opportunity to play”.

Saturday’s match will be played at Chatswood Oval, Chatswood and will kick off at 5.30pm following the conclusion of the Shute Shield match between Gordon and Warringah.

Cockatoos Squad v Australian U20’s

Andrew Barrett (Wollongong Vikings), Scott Burgess (Dubbo Roos), Auvasa Falealli (Hamilton), Ben Greentree (Camden), Mitch Hardy (Shoalhaven), Gavin Holder (Camden), Andre Itula (Avondale), Ryan Jackson (Scone), Steve Lamont (Hamilton), Adam McCormack (Hastings Valley), Lachie McCutcheon (Narromine), Mark Minter (Camden), Peter Nau (Dubbo Roos), Donovan Nepia (Wollongong University), Filiasone Patua (Dubbo Roos), Chris Plunkett (Bathurst), Lee Russell (Camden), Dan Ryan (Parkes), Eli Sinoti (Avondale), Josh Stewart (Tamworth Pirates), Joe Taylor (Terrigal), Paul Tuala (Wollongong University) & Amoni Vea (Parkes).


Cockatoos Retain Maher Ross Cup

The GrainCorp NSW Country Cockatoos have retained the Maher Ross Cup with a three tries to one 20 – 10 victory over NSW Subbies at Terrigal.

As has been the case in previous encounters the match was an arm wrestle from the kick off until the full time whistle, and the healthy crowd at The Haven Oval were treated to some entertaining Rugby.

Subbies had first use of a steady north easterly breeze in the first half, but it was the Cockatoos who had the better of the play in the opening ten minutes, and they should have taken an early lead, but a short ranged penalty kick was wide of the mark.

Subbies defence held and the first time they ventured into the Cockatoos half they were rewarded when five eight Dan Kelly kicked a thirty metre penalty goal to take a 3 - 0 lead following a Cockatoos’ infringement at the breakdown.

Subbies maintained the pressure and had the opportunity to go further ahead when the Cockatoos were again penalised, but the easy kick was waved away and the score remained unchanged.

Subbies picked up the pace and went on the attack, which saw the Cockatoos having to scramble in defence close to their line on several occasions. The big Subbies pack was starting to get a roll on, which enabled their backs to mount sweeping raids. One of these should have resulted in a try when the inclusion of an extra man created an overlap, but the final pass went to ground with the try line wide open.

The Cockatoos defence continued to hold, with a highlight being the fierce contest for the ball at the breakdown. A turnover was eventually achieved resulting in Man of the Match and flanker Josh Stewart making a fifty metre bust, which was carried on by a series of pick and drives before centre Filisone Pauta powered over for an unconverted try for the Cockatoos to take the lead 5 - 3.

Play for the next fifteen minutes was centred between the twenty twos with both sides testing each other out, but Subbies were the ones who eventually broke the deadlock. A line out win saw a driving maul scatter the Cockatoos forwards and back-rower Jake Wainwright came up with a try. The conversion from the sideline by Dan Kelly saw Subbies take a 10 – 5 lead, and it looked as if the momentum of the match had swung Subbies way.

This remained the score line until half time, and Subbies would have been disappointed they weren’t further ahead given the missed scoring opportunities and the use of the breeze.

The second half was only four minutes old and the Cockatoos came right back into the match. A line out win saw their forwards drive deep into the Subbies twenty two, before the ball was put through the hands and winger Scott Burgess sidestepped his way to score in the corner to lock up the score at 10 all. The sideline conversion looked to be on target before the breeze took hold of it and it was waved away.

Subbies had an opportunity to take the lead five minutes later, but the close range penalty attempt missed which was a let off for the Cockatoos.

The arm wrestle continued for the next fifteen minutes which was highlighted by tough defence and aggressive play, which eventually resulted in a player from each team being sent to the sin bin.

Midway through the half the Cockatoos took control of the match when a crashing tackle jolted the ball free which centre Lee Russell gathered and powered through several tackles to score next to the goal posts. The successful conversion by Scott Burgess saw the Cockatoos skip away to a 17 – 10 lead and they were on a roll.

Subbies had an opportunity to close the gap five minutes later, but the penalty kick was a shocker which sliced into the Cockatoos’ in goal and it was hurriedly kicked into touch.

The kicking horrors for Subbies continued when they again missed an easy penalty attempt two minutes later, which again enabled the Cockatoos to clear the ball from their danger zone. With the clock winding down both teams cleared their benches and the intensity of the match increased, but neither side were able to make any try scoring opportunities.

Just when it looked as if the scoring was complete, the Cockatoos were awarded a penalty right on the sideline thirty metres out. Scott Burgess hit the kick sweetly but it looked as if it was going to be held up in the wind, but it hit the cross bar and bounced over to make the final score 20 – 10.

Vision of the match and the Country Championship finals day is available by accessing the Country webpage www.nswcountryrugby.com.au and clicking on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UB_6vTttyiA&feature=share

GrainCorp NSW Country Cockatoos – 20

Scott Burgess, Filisoni Pauta & Lee Russell Tries
Scott Burgess Penalty Goal & Conversion

Defeated

NSW Suburban Rugby Union – 10

Jake Wainwright Try
Dan Kelly Penalty Goal & Conversion

Cockatoos Team

1 – Amoni Vea (Parkes), 2 – Peter Nau (Dubbo Roos), 3 – James Smith (Shoalhaven), 4 – Lachie McCutcheon (Narromine), 5 – Dan Ryan (Parkes), 6 – Paul Tuala (Wollongong Uni), 7 – Josh Stewart (Tamworth Pirates), 8 – Gavin Holder (Camden), 9 – Adam McCormack (Hastings Valley), 10 – Ben Greentree (Camden), 11 – Scott Burgess (Dubbo Roos), 12 – Lee Russell (Camden), 13 – Filisoni Pauta (Dubbo Roos), 14 – Andre Itula (Avondale), 15 - Donovan Nepia (Wollongong Uni), 16 – Steve Lamont (Hamilton), 17 – Ryan Jackson (Scone), 18 – Mitch Hardy (Shoalhaven), 19 – Joe Taylor (Terrigal), 20 – Auvasa Falealli (Hamilton), 21 – Andrew Barrett (Wollongong Vikings), 22 – Eli Sinoti (Avondale), 23 – Chris Plunkett (Bathurst).

NSW Subbies Team

1 – Josh Manson (Balmain), 2 – Tim Moule (Kings Old Boys), 3 – Joe Lynch (Brothers), 4 – Tipoma Kaveinga (Balmain), 5 – Ryan Wilson (Balmain), 6 – James King (St Patricks), 7 – Jake Wainwright (Balmain), 8 – Seva Rokabaro (St Patricks), 9 – Sam Hall (Balmain), 10 – Daniel Kelly (Colleagues), 11 – Ben Borg (Brothers), 12 – Damien Fakafanua (St Patricks), 13 – Finau MakaMaka (Balmain), 14 – Petro Satago (St Patricks), 15 – Cronan Healy (Drummoyne), 16 – Callum Black (Hunters Hill), 17 – Brad Tyher (Balmain), 18 – James Webb (Balmain), 19 – Tom Evens (Petersham), 20 – Simon Meiklejohn (Mosman), 21 – Brook Tremayne (Balmain), 22 – Alex Cheng (Colleagues), 23 – Gareth Smith (Epping).


Lee Russell 




Gavin Holder & Laurie Maher




Paul Timmins, Gavin Holder & Laurie Maher




Cockatoos Name Experienced Squad for Opening Match

The GrainCorp NSW Country Cockatoos have named an experienced squad for their opening match of the 2014 representative season.

Fifteen players in the squad of twenty three selected to play NSW Suburban at The Haven Oval, Terrigal on Saturday, 17 May have all previously pulled on the famous Country Gold Jersey.

The retention of the fifteen players from previous years gives the Cockatoos stability and shows the identification process put in place over the last few years is bearing fruit.

A pleasing aspect of the squad for the opening match is the inclusion of several young players who have progressed from the Country Colts and Junior programs.

Among these is winger Scott Burgess who has carried on his point scoring feats in senior rugby, following his outstanding form in the junior and colts ranks. He joins former Country Colts Captain Dan Ryan in the squad who made his Cockatoos debut during the 2013 representative season.

Cockatoos Coach Shannon Fraser said “the players selected for the first match of the representative season all wanted to be in the squad, and had all worked hard during the Country Championships and at the Country Training Camp to achieve the end result”.

He went on to say “Country’s program of matches against NSW Subbies, Australian U20’s, Australian Services and Australian Barbarians would really test the players, and that Country was in a fortunate position to have a strong extended training squad ready to cover all positions in the team”.

Other than the Cockatoos mid season representative program, the players have the opportunity to showcase themselves for the new National Rugby Competition, together with vying for positions in the Country Development Team which will undertake a tour to the West Coast of the USA at the end of the year.

NSW Country Rugby Union had committed to a four year cycle of Representative Rugby, with the cycle kicking off with an international tour in 2014.

Cockatoos Squad v NSW Suburban

Andrew Barrett (Wollongong Vikings), Scott Burgess (Dubbo Roos), Auvasa Falealli (Hamilton), Ben Greentree (Camden), Mitch Hardy (Shoalhaven), Gavin Holder (Camden), Andre Itula (Avondale), Ryan Jackson (Scone), Steve Lamont (Hamilton), Adam McCormack (Hastings Valley), Lachie McCutcheon (Narromine), Peter Nau (Dubbo Roos), Donovan Nepia (Wollongong University), Filiasone Patua (Dubbo Roos), Chris Plunkett (Bathurst), Lee Russell (Camden), Dan Ryan (Parkes), Eli Sinoti (Avondale), James Smith (Shoalhaven), Josh Stewart (Tamworth Pirates), Joe Taylor (Terrigal), Paul Tuala (Wollongong University) & Amoni Vea (Parkes).


Country Coaches Appointed for 2014

New South Wales Country Rugby Union has appointed their Senior Representative Team Coaches for the 2014 season.

Shannon Fraser and Stacey Sykes will guide the GrainCorp NSW Country Cockatoos, while Mat Thomas and Phil Green will be in charge of the NRMA NSW Country Cockatoo Colts.

Head Coach Fraser comes to the Cockatoos Coaching position with a wealth of domestic, provincial and international experience, while Assistant Coach Sykes has a long history with Country age teams and first grade Country club Rugby.

NSWCRU Executive Officer Terry Woodward when making the announcement of Shannon Fraser’s appointment said “it was a coup for NSW Country Rugby Union, and was one which would have a major impact on Country Rugby”.

He went on to say “Fraser, who has been involved with teams at the last two Rugby World Cups, would bring a new direction to the Cockatoos based on his extensive experience with the NSW Waratahs, Fijian National Team and more recently in Japan”.

“The Cockatoos over the last few seasons have enjoyed great success on the field, and the appointment of Shannon Fraser in conjunction with Stacey Sykes to the coaching roles will ensure the momentum is maintained and enhanced” added Woodward.

The reappointment of Mat Thomas and Phil Green as the NRMA NSW Country Cockatoo Colts coaches was in recognition of the outstanding results they had achieved over the last two seasons.

The 2014 representative season will be an exciting one for Country Rugby, with the Colts set to participate in a National Competition, while the Cockatoos will play their traditional program of matches before undertaking a tour to the west coast of the United States.


Wilson on Slow Road to Recovery

Long standing GrainCorp NSW Country Cockatoos player Jeff Wilson has received positive news from his specialist in relation to the spinal injury he sustained in June.

Wilson chipped his C5 and severely tore neck ligaments whilst making a tackle in the Cockatoos v Heelers representative match at Newcastle on 11 June 2013. After spending a short period of time in Newcastle’s John Hunter Hospital, he was discharged and has been in a full neck brace up until last week.

During the five weeks he was in the neck brace he was basically unable to do anything other than sit or lay down, not an ideal situation for a father of two very active sons under three years of age.

He will now commence a comprehensive rehabilitation program to strength the neck ligaments which were torn in the accident.

Whilst the news has been positive there is still a long road to recovery for Wilson, as there is still the possibility of corrective surgery should the rehabilitation program not be successful.

Jeff Wilson has been a Cockatoos representative player since 2003 when he first burst onto the Country representative scene at the Country Championships with the Central North Zone.

Since then he was a first pick selection each season up to and including 2006 which included NSW Country’s tour to Fiji, before he headed off overseas for a professional stint with Ayr Rugby Club in Scotland.

Upon his return to Australia in 2010 he settled on the state’s north coast where he again starred at the Country Championships for Far North Coast and gained selection for the Cockatoos which has continued through until the 2013 season.

Wilson had the distinction of Captaining the Cockatoos in 2012 incorporating the match against Sydney, which had been reintroduced after an absence of twenty five years.

During his eight representative seasons with NSW Country and the Cockatoos, Jeff Wilson has been capped on forty occasions and won two Australian Rugby Shield Championships.


Tuala Claims Will Tanner Award  

Wollongong University, Illawarra and GrainCorp NSW Country Cockatoos No 8 Paul Tuala has been named as the 2013 New South Wales Country Rugby Union Player of the Year.

Tuala was announced as the recipient of the Will Tanner Award at a presentation in Newcastle following the Cockatoos last representative match of the 2013 season.

The Will Tanner Award is named in honour of former Cockatoos player Will Tanner who tragically lost his life in a horse riding accident on his Quirindi property in 1997.

Paul Tuala burst onto the NSW Country Rugby Union scene this year with some outstanding performances for the Illawarra team at the Country Championships in Tamworth.

His performances at the championships gained him selection in the 2013 GrainCorp NSW Country Cockatoos squad, and he quickly laid claim to the No 8 jersey for the duration of the season.

Taula’s hard running and bone jarring defence were two very strong features of his game, and together with his all round play resulted in him polling heavily in the Will Tanner Award points for each of the Cockatoos’ matches.

Points were awarded on a 3, 2 & 1 basis by three judges for each match and Tuala polled in each match except for the last against Queensland Country in Newcastle which he missed through injury.

Even allowing for missing the last match Paul Tuala took out the Will Tanner Award by a margin of ten points from Lock Gavin Holder and Flanker Alex Burnhiem who finished second and third respectively in the voting.

Will Tanner Winners

• 1998 – James Quinn – Central North
• 1999 – Rod Petty – Illawarra
• 2000 – David Lubins – Newcastle Hunter
• 2001 – James McCormack – Monaro
• 2002 – Nick Lavelle – Central West
• 2003 – Anthony Gowing – Central West
• 2004 – Adam Winter – Central Coast
• 2005 – Ross Duncan – Western Plains
• 2006 – Paul Elliott – Central West
• 2007 – Nick Leseberg – Newcastle Hunter
• 2008 – Mike Te Moana – New England
• 2009 – Mike Te Moana – New England
• 2010 – Matt Waterford – Central West
• 2011 – Sam Stewart – Far North Coast
• 2012 – Josh Stewart – Central North                  


Border Cup Heads North

The Battle of the Border Cup has been claimed by the GrainCorp Queensland Country Heelers following their 21 – 20 win over the Graincorp NSW Country Cockatoos.

The match was played as the curtain raiser to the Combined Country v British & Irish Lions Tour Match at Hunter Stadium, Newcastle on Tuesday, 11 June 2013.

The Cockatoos were on the front foot from the kick off when the Heelers were penalised at the breakdown, but the thirty metre penalty attempt from the sideline shaved the upright.

From the restart the Heelers were able to regain possession and set about working play into the Cockatoos twenty two, and after several forward drives a sweeping backline movement saw the Cockatoos defence caught short and their winger Lydon Minnaar raced in for an unconverted try for the Heelers to take a 5 – 0 lead after five minutes of play.

A close range penalty goal to five-eight Dudley Parsons four minutes later saw the Cockatoos close the gap to two, but this was short lived when the Heelers a minute later replied with their own penalty goal by Lee Anderson to lead 8 – 3.

The Cockatoos then started to put their game together and mounted a series of attacking raids which had the Heelers defence under the pump. Their efforts were rewarded at the fifteenth minute mark when hooker Peter Nau finished off a series of pick and drives to crash over for a converted try to see the Cockatoos take the lead 10 – 8.

Play was evenly shared over the next five minutes, but it was the Heelers who were the next to score when the Cockatoos were penalised at the breakdown and Lee Anderson slotted a close range penalty goal for the Heelers to regain the lead 11 – 10 after twenty minutes.

The ensuing restart resulted in Cockatoos flanker Jeff Wilson sustaining a serious neck injury which resulted in the match being suspended for eight minutes while he was stabilised and transported from the field of play.

On the resumption of the match the Cockatoos went on the attack until half time with the play being situated mostly in the Heelers’ twenty two, but the Heelers defence held on. During this period the Cockatoos mounted numerous attacks which featured passages of play with ten to fifteen phases, but each time the movements broke down or where denied by the Heelers’ defence.

The second half opened in sensational fashion with the Cockatoos’ five eight Dudley Parsons being sent to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle in the second minute of play.

It only took the Heelers a couple of minutes to capitalise on their extra man advantage, as from a lineout win on halfway their fullback Lee Anderson raced through a gap to cross for a converted try to increase their lead to 18 – 10.

The Cockatoos then started to play catch up and their structure suffered with several promising attacks breaking down due to poor option taking or ball security. The Heelers were playing a controlled game and were keen to keep the play in the Cockatoos half with strong defence and well placed kicks.

A further penalty goal to Lee Anderson in the forty ninth minute increased the Heelers’ lead to 21 – 10, which placed the Cockatoos under even more pressure. The Cockatoos tried to lift the tempo of the game, but they continued to let themselves down with some basic mistakes, and at the same time the Heelers also lifted their intensity.

An injection of players off the bench had an impact for the Cockatoos as they started to put together some promising attacking raids which had the Heelers having to defend strongly in their twenty two.

A close range penalty goal by Donovan Nepia in the sixty second minute saw the Cockatoos close the score-line to 21 – 13, and this was further reduced to 21 – 20 four minutes later when replacement centre Luke Sherwood crossed for a converted try.

With ten minutes left on the clock the Heelers were reduced to fourteen when a player was sent to the sin bin for repeated team infringements at the breakdown. As much as the Cockatoos tried to capitalise on this advantage, the Heelers continued to hang on, and on several occasions mounted attacking raids which had the Cockatoos defending strongly.

The Heelers continued to defend strongly and whenever they gained possession the ball was kicked into the Cockatoos twenty two which they backed up with strong chases.

With the siren about to sound the Cockatoos won a scrum on their twenty two and worked play up field, and from the ensuing ruck they were able to work an overlap which gave replacement winger Matt Moloney a clear run down the sideline.

As had been the case throughout the match this attacking raid broken down when a pass was pushed and the Heelers were able to kick the ball into touch to end the match.

Flanker Alex Burnheim had an outstanding match and was deservedly awarded the Players Player Award, while No 8 Gavin Holder and young Lock Dan Ryan toiled hard all match.

The disappointing loss brought to an end the Cockatoos five match representative season, and saw the Battle of the Border Cup head north to Queensland for only the second time in seven years.

GrainCorp Qld Country Heelers – 21
Lee Anderson & Lydon Minnaar Tries
Lee Anderson 3 Penalty Goals & Conversion
Defeated

GrainCorp NSW Country Heelers – 20
Peter Nau & Luke Sherwood Tries
Donovan Nepia Penalty Goal & Conversion
Dudley Parsons Penalty Goal & Conversion


Cockatoos v Heelers
1 – Joel Diggins, 2 – Peter Nau, 3 – John Adams, 4 – Dan Ryan, 5- Va Talaileva, 6 – Jeff Wilson, 7. Alex Burnheim, 8. Gavin Holder (C), 9 – Paul Dan, 10 – Dudley Parsons, 11 – Eli Sinoti, 12 – Jade Gardiner, 13 – Lee Russell, 14 – Ben Harriss, 15 – Donovan Nepia, 16 – Hori Leef, 17 – Chris Plunkett, 18 – Peter Altona, 19 – Brad Sheridan, 20 – Luke Sherwood, 21 – Sam McNeil, 22 – Matt Moloney, 23 – Kevin McNamara


Battle of the Border Resumes

The Battle of the Border Trophy will again be at stake when the GrainCorp NSW Country Cockatoos and the GrainCorp Qld Country Heelers face off in Newcastle.

The second match of the year between the two Country provinces will be played as the curtain raiser to the Combined Country v British & Irish Lions match on Tuesday, 11 June at Hunter Stadium.

Both the Cockatoos and Heelers have had to make changes to their respective line ups following the selection of nine players, Cockatoos (4) and Heelers (5), in the Combined Country match squad.

Cockatoos John Adams (prop), Dan Ryan (lock), Paul Dan (halfback), Luke Sherwood (centre) and Ben Harriss (wing), have earned their first run on caps for the season, while Matt Maloney (utility back) has been drafted onto the bench.

The two teams last played against one another in Townsville early in May, with the result being a 24 all draw, which saw the Cockatoos retain the Battle of the Border Trophy.

All the past will be forgotten and everything will go on the line when the two teams meet on Tuesday, with the Cockatoos keen to maintain the dominance they have exerted over the Heelers in recent years.

The Cockatoos v Heelers match kicks off at 4.30pm and will be followed by the tour match which kicks off at 7.30pm. Tickets are available online from www.proticket.com.au

NSW Cockatoos v Qld Heelers

John Adams (Moree), Peter Altona (Tamworth Pirates), Alex Burnheim (Coonamble), Paul Dan (Hamilton), Joel Diggins (Wollongong Vikings), Jade Gardiner (Wollongong Uni), Ben Harriss (Hamilton), Gavin Holder (Camden), Hori Leef (Wollongong Uni), Kevin McNamara (Warnervale), Sam McNeil (Port Macquarie), Matt Maloney (Avoca Beach), Peter Nau (Dubbo Roos), Donovan Nepia (Wollongong Uni), Dudley Parsons (Lismore), Chris Plunket (Bathurst), Dan Ryan (Parkes), Lee Russell (Camden), Luke Sherwood (Wanderers), Eli Sinoti (Avondale), Brad Sheridan (Ourimbah), Va Talaileva (Southern Beaches), Jeff Wilson (Lennox Head).


Heartbreaking loss for Cockatoos

The GrainCorp NSW Country Cockatoos have suffered a heartbreaking 38 – 31 loss to the ACT Griffins in Canberra.

A converted try one minute after the fulltime siren saw the Griffins snatch victory over a courageous and never say die Cockatoos team.

In a high scoring match which saw eleven tries scored, both sides didn’t hold anything back with players from both teams visiting the medical room during and after the match.

ACT got away to a flying start when in the fourth minute their inside centre sliced through a gaping hole to race forty metres for an unconverted try to set up a 5 nil lead.

The GrainCorp Cockatoos reacted quickly and went on the attack and piled on twelve points in the next eight minutes with tries to No 8 Paul Taula and fullback Donovan Nepia, one of which was converted by Nepia.

The next twenty minutes saw play go from one end of the field to the other, with both teams electing to run the ball at every opportunity. This period of play was marked with some very physical defence with players from both sides requiring medical attention as a result of the strong but legal body contact.

At the thirty second minute mark the ACT fullback found space on a tight blindside to sprint twenty metres down the sideline to cross for a converted try in the corner to lock the score up at 12 all. The next five minutes saw the Griffins go on the attack and after pressuring the Cockatoos’ line they were rewarded when their outside centre powered over for a converted try to go out to a 19 – 12 lead.

With the half time siren set to sound the Cockatoos regained possession and after putting together fifteen phases of play, five eight Ben Greentree sidestepped his way past several defenders to cross for a converted try to lock the scores up at 19 all at the break.

The second half saw the Cockatoos continue on the front foot with very aggressive defence and ball running, which had the Griffins under a lot of pressure. Seven minutes into the half they were rewarded when lock Gavin Holder stormed across for a converted try to take the Cockatoos out to a 26 – 19 lead.

Two minutes later the ACT mounted a concerted attacking raid which was stopped just short of the line, but after forcing a turnover the Cockatoos dropped the ball which was pounced on by the Griffins No 8 for an unconverted try to close the score-line to 26 – 24.

This score changed the tempo of the match with the Griffins going on the front foot, which basically saw the match being played in the Cockatoos’ half, but the Cockatoos to a man dug deep and continually repelled the ACT attacking raids.

It looked as if it was only a matter of time before the floodgates would open, but it was the Cockatoos who were next to score when winger Eli Sinoti backed his judgement and intercepted a pass to race fifty five metres to score an unconverted try in the corner to take the Cockatoos out to a 31 – 24 lead.

The ACT responded almost immediately and after working play into the Cockatoos’ twenty two which saw the play sweep from one side of the field to the other on several occasions their winger scored a converted try to again lock the score-line up at 31 all.

With only minutes left on the clock the Cockatoos launched several attacking raids which stretched the Griffins defence, but two against the head scrum wins by the Griffins close to their line defused these attacks.

The Griffins were able to work play back into the Cockatoos’ twenty two, but the Cockatoos again held them out with very solid defence and the match look set to be a draw.

With the full time siren about to sound the Griffins had a mid field scrum feed from which they launched their last attacking raids, and after several phases their replacement lock found a hole in the defensive line to cross for the match winning converted try.

The Cockatoos to a player all performed well, with flanker Alex Burnheim and debutant centre Lee Russell sharing the Players’ Play Award, while prop Dylan Evans, No 8 Paul Tuala, lock Va Talaileva, halfback Adam McCormack and five-eight Ben Greentree all having very strong matches.

ACT Griffins – 38
6 Tries & 4 Conversions

Defeated

GrainCorp NSW Country Cockatoos – 31
Ben Greentree, Gavin Holder, Donovan Nepia, Eli Sinoti & Paul Tuala Tries
Donovan Nepia 3 Conversions

Cockatoos v Griffins
1 – Joel Diggins (Vikings), 2 – Peter Nau (Dubbo Roos), 3 – Dylan Evans (Wanderers), 4 – Va Talaileva (Southern Beaches), 5 – Gavin Holder (Camden), 6 – Jeff Wilson (Lennox Head), 7 - Alex Burnheim (Coonamble), 8 - Peter Tuala (Wollongong Uni), 9 – Adam McCormack (Hastings Valley), 10 – Ben Greentree (Camden), 11 – Sam McNeil (Port Macquarie), 12 – Lee Russell (Camden), 13 – Lewie Catt (Wanderers), 14 – Eli Sinoti (Avondale), 15 – Donovan Nepia (Wollongong Uni), 16 – John Adams (Moree), 17 – Chris Plunkett (Bathurst), 18 – Kevin McNamara (Wanervale), 19 – Peter Altona (Tamworth Pirates), 20 – Brad Sheridan (Ourimbah), 21 – Paul Dan (Hamilton), 22 – Dudley Parsons (Hamilton).


Cockatoos Team Changes for ACT Match

The GrainCorp NSW Country Cockatoos have been forced to make three changes to the squad for their upcoming match against the ACT Griffins at Canberra Stadium.

The annual fixture against the ACT Griffins will kick off at 5.05pm on Friday, 31 May and will be the main curtain raiser to the Brumbies v Chiefs SupeRugby match.

Family bereavements and work commitments have seen Filisoni Pauta, Dan Ryan and Ben Harriss drop out of the squad, with Sam McNeil, Peter Altona and Lee Russell coming in as their replacements.

NSW Country Rugby Union would like to take this opportunity to pass on the Union’s condolences to the Pauta and Ryan families in this very difficult period of time.

The GrainCorp Cockatoos will go into the match with a lot of confidence following on from their three tries to two win over NSW Suburban at ANZ Stadium two weeks ago.

Coach Col Jeffs said “the loss of Harriss, Pauta and Ryan was disappointing, but the three replacement players had all earned their selections via their respective performances at the Country Championships”.

He went on to say “the Griffins have come away with the wins over the last two years, but a change to the Cockatoos’ program this year has given the team the benefit of playing three matches together, which has been an ideal preparation”.

Cockatoos Squad v ACT Griffins

John Adams (Moree), Peter Altona (Tamworth Pirates), Alex Burnheim (Coonamble), Lewie Catt (Newcastle Wanderers), Paul Dan (Hamilton), Joel Diggins (Wollongong Vikings), Dylan Evans (Warren), Jade Gardiner (Wollongong Uni), Ben Greentree (Camden), Gavin Holder (Camden), Hori Leef (Wollongong Uni), Adam McCormack (Hastings Valley), Kevin McNamara (Warnervale), Sam McNeil (Port Macquarie), Peter Nau (Dubbo Roos), Don Nepia (Wollongong Uni), Dudley Parsons (Lismore), Lee Russell (Camden), Eli Sinoti (Avondale), Brad Sheridan (Ourimbah), Paul Tuala (Wollongong Uni), Va Talaileva (Southern Beaches), Jeff Wilson (Lennox Head).


Cockatoos Claim Maher-Ross Cup

The GrainCorp NSW Country Cockatoos have claimed the Maher-Ross Cup with a hard fought 26 – 20 victory over NSW Subbies at ANZ Stadium.

The win was the first for the Cockatoos in the three year history of the Maher-Ross Cup which was named in honour of Laurie Maher (Country) and Ian Ross (Suburban) two long term icons of their respective Unions.

As has been the case in previous encounters there was nothing seperating the two teams, with this being reflected in the 10 all half time score and the Cockatoos having to defend grimly after the full time siren to claim the victory.

Subbies opened the scoring with a long range penalty goal in the first five minutes, but the Cockatoos quickly equalled the score with a penalty goal to full back Donovan Nepia.

The Cockatoos had the better of the ensuing play and placed Subbies under a lot of pressure with the majority of the play being situated in the Subbies twenty two. At the twenty minute mark the Cockatoos were rewarded when a well worked backline move saw winger Eli Sinoti charge onto to five-eight Ben Greentree’s delayed pass to touch down under the black dot for a 10 – 3 lead.

This score spurred Subbies into action which saw them regain possession from the re-start and set about mounting a series of attacking raids from within the Cockatoos twenty two.

Country’s defence held the try line, but they did concede several penalties which enabled Subbies to maintain the pressure, but without gaining any result on the score board.

At the thirtieth minute the Referee lost his patience with the Cockatoos infringements at the breakdown, and prop Dylan Evans was sent to the sin bin for ten minutes.

Subbies were quick to capitalise on this advantage and within minutes caught the Cockatoos defence short and crossed for a try which was converted from the sideline and locked the scores up at ten all, which remained as the half time score.

Subbies opened the second half on the front foot and within the first five minutes had taken a 13 – 10 lead with a penalty goal after the Cockatoos had again been penalised at the breakdown.

From the restart the Cockatoos went on the attack, and at the fifty first minute winger Filisone Pauta burst through a tackle and skirted the touch line on a thirty metre run to score in the corner. The sideline conversion was unsuccessful, but the GrainCorp Cockatoos had regained the lead 15 – 13.

Three minutes later a Subbies clearing kick was charged down and from the ensuing ruck flanker Alex Burnheim charged over in the corner for an unconverted try to take Country out to a 20 – 13 lead.

The Cockatoos continued to mount pressure and at the sixtieth minute Subbies were penalised at the breakdown and replacement five eight Dudley Parsons kicked a neat penalty goal to increase the lead to 23 – 13.

Subbies finally came to life and after a series of attacking raids and some fine tactical kicking which placed the Cockatoos under immense pressure, they were rewarded with a converted try which closed the score-line to 23 – 20.

This set up a frantic closing stage for the match which saw both teams go on the attack, with the Cockatoos gaining some breathing space with another penalty goal to Dudley Parsons to round out the scoring.

GrainCorp NSW Country Cockatoos – 26
Alex Burnheim, Filisoni Pauta & Eli Sinoti Tries
Donovan Nepia Penalty Goal & Conversion, Dudley Parsons 2 Penalty Goals

Defeated

NSW Suburban Rugby Union – 20
2 Tries, 2 Penalty Goals & 2 Conversions
Cockatoos Squad v Subbies

John Adams (Moree), Alex Burnheim (Coonamble), Lewie Catt (Newcastle Wanderers), Paul Dan (Hamilton), Joel Diggins (Wollongong Vikings), Dylan Evans (Warren), Jade Gardiner (Wollongong Uni), Ben Greentree (Camden), Ben Harriss (Hamilton), Gavin Holder (Camden), Hori Leef (Wollongong Uni), Adam McCormack (Hastings Valley), Kevin McNamara (Warnervale), Peter Nau (Dubbo Roos), Don Nepia (Wollongong Uni), Dudley Parsons (Lismore), Filisone Pauta (Dubbo Roos), Dan Ryan (Parkes), Eli Sinoti (Avondale), Brad Sheridan (Ourimbah), Paul Tuala (Wollongong Uni), Va Talaileva (Southern Beaches), Jeff Wilson (Lennox Head).


Cockatoos & Subbies in ANZ Showdown

This Saturday will see the GrainCorp NSW Country Cockatoos face off against the NSW Suburban Rugby Union at ANZ Stadium, Homebush.

The annual fixture kicks off at 5.15pm and will be the curtain raiser to the HSBC Waratahs’ v Brumbies SupeRugby clash, and based on previous years will provide plenty of action for the Rugby purists.

Having narrowly lost their last two encounters with Subbies, the GrainCorp Cockatoos will be looking to have reversed their fortunes come the final whistle on Saturday.

Coached by Col Jeffs and led by Camden’s Gavin Holder there’s plenty to motivate the Country team, as the match will also act as the last chance for the players to be considered for selection in the Combined Country (NSW & Qld) team to play the British & Irish Lions in Newcastle on 11 June.

“Every game up until this point has been a trial in some regard, but as a squad we’re not concentrating on selection for the Lions match and all of our focus will be on coming away with the win at the weekend” said Holder.

“Every match against Subbies in the past has been fiercely contested and is always a very physical encounter, but the Cockatoos are looking forward to the clash and are very keen to take the Subbies boys head on” added Holder.

Coach Col Jeffs said “Subbies have got the best of us over the last couple of years, and we’re looking to get one back over them and put the GrainCorp Cockatoos back on the front page”.

He went on to say “coming into the match we’re bouncing back from a disappointing draw with Queensland Country, a match in which we didn’t play to our full potential, especially after the strong hit out against the Rebel Rising the previous week”.

Both teams will be striving to win the match and claim the Maher/Ross Cup, which was struck to acknowledge the long service provided to the respective Unions by Laurie Maher (NSW Country Rugby Union) and Ian Ross (NSW Suburban Rugby Union).

The GrainCorp NSW Country Cockatoos have made two changes to their squad with halfback Paul Dan returning from injury and prop John Adams coming in to replace the injured James Smith.

Cockatoos Squad v NSW Suburban

John Adams (Moree), Alex Burnheim (Coonamble), Lewie Catt (Newcastle Wanderers), Paul Dan (Hamilton), Joel Diggins (Wollongong Vikings), Dylan Evans (Warren), Jade Gardiner (Wollongong Uni), Ben Greentree (Camden), Ben Harriss (Hamilton), Gavin Holder (Camden), Hori Leef (Wollongong Uni), Adam McCormack (Hastings Valley), Kevin McNamara (Warnervale), Peter Nau (Dubbo Roos), Don Nepia (Wollongong Uni), Dudley Parsons (Lismore), Filisone Pauta (Dubbo Roos), Dan Ryan (Parkes), Eli Sinoti (Avondale), Brad Sheridan (Ourimbah), Paul Tuala (Wollongong Uni), Va Talaileva (Southern Beaches), Jeff Wilson (Lennox Head).


Cockatoos & Heelers Share the Spoils

The GrainCorp NSW Country Cockatoos and the GrainCorp Qld Country Heelers shared the spoils in the annual Battle of the Borders match with a twenty four all draw being the end result in Townsville on Saturday night.

The match could be best summed up as one which didn’t rise to any great heights, and one of missed opportunities, with both teams having several chances to put the match out of the reach of the other, but neither could deliver the telling blow which would have sealed the match result.

Queensland Country had the better of the first half, but failed to capitalise on a lacklustre Cockatoos team which continually struggled to get into any pattern in both attack and defence, and it was only due to poor finishing and option taking by the Heelers that the score line stayed close.

After kicking out on the full at the commencement of the match, the Cockatoos received a reprieve two minutes later when the Heelers were penalised for being offside, and five eight Dudley Parsons kicked a forty metre penalty goal to take a three nil lead.

This lead was short lived with the Heelers kicking two penalties to lead 6 - 3 during the next ten minutes following indiscretions by the Cockatoos in the defensive line and at the break down. During this period of time the Heelers were being enterprising in attack, with their slick outside backs finding numerous holes in the Cockatoos defence, but these breaks weren’t converted into tries.

The Cockatoos best try scoring opportunity came in the twentieth minute when they forced a turnover just inside their half, which saw the ball reefed down field and regathered by winger Donovan Nepia who was tackled just short of the try line. The Heelers managed to slow the ball down and when the Cockatoos cleared the ruck the pass was knocked down and a penalty was awarded which was duly kicked by Dudley Parsons to tie the score up at six all.

The next ten minutes saw the Heelers continue to mount pressure, but indecision and scrambling Cockatoos defence saw no change to the score line. On one of the few occasions the Cockatoos did mount an attack in the Heelers half the ball was knocked on, and from the ensuing the scrum win the Heeler’s backs worked an overlap, with the centres and wingers then interchanging passes before the movement was finished off with a spectacular dive for a try in the corner. The conversion wasn’t successful, but the alarm bells were ringing for the Cockatoos as the Heelers were gaining confidence and play seemed to be swinging their way.

The Heelers continued to attack at every opportunity, but the Cockatoos managed to hang on with Dudley Parsons kicking another forty metre plus penalty goal to close the score to 11 – 9 in the favour of the Heelers.

A Heelers’ penalty goal two minutes later saw them increase their lead to 14 – 9, which remained the score until the half time break.

The second half opened with the Heelers being on the front foot, and after two minutes of play their lead was increased to 17 – 9 when the Cockatoos were again penalised at the breakdown and the ensuing penalty goal was kicked.

This penalty goal spurred the Cockatoos into action and from a line out win on their own twenty two centre Lewie Catt broke through to make a fifty metre surge down field before picking up the trailing flanker Alex Burnheim who passed to winger Eli Sinoti who in turned off loaded to winger Donovan Nepia who scored midway in from touch. Dudley Parson’s conversion never looked like missing and the Cockatoos had closed the score to 17 – 16.

The Cockatoos at last came to life and the play started to go their way, with the forwards making ground with pick and drives up the centre of the field which had the Heelers on the back foot. Scores still weren’t coming their way and it wasn’t until the sixty fifth minute that Dudley Parsons kicked his fourth penalty goal to see the Cockatoos hit the lead 19 – 17.

With ten minutes remaining the Cockatoos continued to have the better of play and it looked as if it would only be a matter of time before the flood gates opened and the match would be put out of the reach of the Heelers.

It was at this point disaster struck for the Cockatoos, when a ball was put down and with several players seemly having it covered a Heelers player scooped it up and ran thirty metres untouched to score a converted try to take the Heelers out to a 24 – 19 lead.

The Heelers then started to run the clock down and at every opportunity the ball was drilled into the Cockatoos’ half and it was a real effort for the Cockatoos to make any headway against a Heelers team which had their tails up.

With less than five minutes remaining on the clock centre Lewie Catt again made a long mid field charge, and from the ensuing ruck the ball found its way into the hands of Dudley Parsons who managed to squeeze between several defenders to score a try which locked up the scores at 24 all.

Parson’s conversion attempt from the fifteen metre line looked home and hosed until it swung in to hit the upright and bounce back into the field of play.

The final minutes of play were very frantic, but neither team could get into a scoring position and full time was blown with the scores locked at 24 all.

The Cockatoos Player’s Player was hooker Peter Nau, while No 8 Paul Tuala, flanker Alex Burnheim and centre Lewie Catt all tried hard in a team which couldn’t seem to get into their stride throughout the match.

GrainCorp NSW Country Cockatoos – 24
Dudley Parsons & Donovan Nepia Tries
Dudley Parsons 4 Penalty Goals & Conversion

Drew with

GrainCorp Qld County Heelers – 24
2 Tries, 4 Penalty Goals & Conversion

Cockatoos Squad v Heelers

Alex Burnheim (Coonamble), Lewie Catt (Newcastle Wanderers), Joel Diggins (Wollongong Vikings), Dylan Evans (Warren), Jade Gardiner (Wollongong Uni), Ben Greentree (Camden), Ben Harriss (Hamilton), Gavin Holder (Camden), Hori Leef (Wollongong Uni), Adam McCormack (Hastings Valley), Kevin McNamara (Warnervale), Peter Nau (Dubbo Roos), Don Nepia (Wollongong Uni), Dudley Parsons (Lismore), Filisone Pauta (Dubbo Roos), Dan Ryan (Parkes), Eli Sinoti (Avondale), Brad Sheridan (Ourimbah), Luke Sherwood (Newcastle Wanderers), James Smith (Shoalhaven), Paul Tuala (Wollongong Uni), Va Talaileva (Southern Beaches), Jeff Wilson (Lennox Head).


Battle of the Borders Resumes

Two of Australia’s traditional Rugby Provinces resume hostilities this weekend when the GrainCorp NSW Country Cockatoos and the GrainCorp Qld Country Heelers go head to head in Townsville on Sat