Smart lands first win as Roos coach

Kangaroos captain/coach James Smart, pictured here playing in round one against the Young Cherrypickers, was forced to sit out Sunday’s win over the Southcity Bulls at Harris Park. Photo: Paul W. Kerr Photography.

Despite being forced to sit out Sunday’s game with Covid, James Smart has officially landed his first victory during his tenure as Wagga Kangaroo’s coach, with his side defeating Southcity 38-16 at Harris Park on Sunday. 

The multiple Gundagai premiership-winning player was a late omission after testing positive to Covid, but the Roos were still strong in the second half, capitalising on a 12-10 half time lead before winning comfortably in the end.

“I watched it online, and honestly, it’s a relief to get that first win,” Smart said.

“I was disappointed that I didn’t get to be in the sheds with the boys and have a beer with them, but it was nice to see the boys happy and walking off with smiles.

“We still have a lot of work to do, but we want the boys to enjoy their football, and that is something we have focused on the last few months, and it was good to get that win.”

Smart and his squad were forced to deal with a difficult week leading into their contest against the Bulls.

“We didn’t have the best week,” Smart said.

“We had a few injuries leading into the game, and it was not ideal for me to pull out the day before the game, but in situations like that, it is up to the boys and how they are going to respond, but from all reports, they were really positive, the talk was great, the prep was good in the warmup, and I thought we started really well.”

Following a tough opening round loss to Young, Smart was happy to see his side playing good rugby league for extended periods, which laid the platform for the strong win against their Wagga rivals.

“We were able to put ourselves in the contest for longer periods than we did against Young, and it was pleasing to watch,” Smart said. 

“The boys were trading set for set with the opposition, and then we found some joy on the edges, and some guys put in really strong performances. 

“They laid a good foundation in the first half which set up the win, and while it was a good win, there is definitely improvement in the side, and we will get better each week.

“There were some encouraging signs there with our younger fellas coming through and we will continue to work on that improvement and development, which I think is the most important thing.”

In the only real negative coming out of the game, the Roos will lose Ben Cronin for an extended period after the lock-forward suffered a broken jaw.

In other Group 9 games played over the weekend, Albury gave up a 10-nil lead against the Young Cherrypickers before going 50-14 at Alfred Oval on Saturday. 

Mitch Cornish had the ball on a string, and orchestrated try after try, while scoring one himself, and Jahnayah Freeman scored a treble.

The Cherrypickers have started 2022 as strongly as expected, scoring 88 points in two games. 

In the surprise result of the round, the Tumut Blues fell to Wagga Brothers 20-6 at home.Playing at Twickenham, the Blues lacked any real energy and enthusiasm, and errors and discipline cost the home side as they trailed 18-6 at the break before losing 20-6

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