Tigers roar into GF

Gundagai five-eighth Tyron Gorman about to plant the ball over the tryline amid the attention of Junee fullback Daniel Foley. The Tigers were convincing 32-14 winners at Harris Park to earn a spot in the Group 9 grand final.
Gundagai five-eighth Tyron Gorman about to plant the ball over the tryline amid the attention of Junee fullback Daniel Foley. The Tigers were convincing 32-14 winners at Harris Park to earn a spot in the Group 9 grand final.

Gundagai will be gunning for back- to-back Group 9 premierships in this week’s Group 9 grand final after hammering Junee, 32-14 in the preliminary final at Harris Park last Sunday.

The Tigers will now take on South City in a decider many had been predicting since the start of the season.

The grand final combatants have, for the majority of the season, clearly been the best two teams of the competition.

The decider features a South City side full of flair and speed against a Gundagai side that generally controls the mid-field via its big forward pack.

The contrasting styles should ensure an entertaining battle at McDonald’s Park next Sunday.

Gundagai always appeared to have Junee’s measure in the preliminary final, though the scoreboard didn’t always reflect that.

Down 10-4 at one point in the opening stanza, the Tigers were level at 10-all at halftime before storming away in the final 40 minutes.

Gundagai has a clear edge in the forwards over the Diesels – as they do against just about every team for that matter – and even without star hooker James Luff and tough as teak lock Brett Eccleston, the Tigers’ pack earned a clear points win against their rivals.

Brock Dunn came into the side at hooker to replace Luff, a late withdrawal with due to an infection, and Dunn had a big game, while the re-emergence of Cameron Woo has been timely given Eccleston’s pectoral injury.

Junee’s only real weapons were out wide, courtesy of veteran centre Peter Little – who scored one try and helped set up another – and the elusive Daniel Foley, who was largely held in check.

Gundagai, in contrast, rolled forward with relative ease and enjoyed all the benefits that go along with being on top in the forward exchanges. Big Vinnie Brown led the way and Dunn took advantage of the roll-on, while Dane O’Hehir delivered a superlative performance at the back.

O’Hehir has emerged this season as Gundagai’s most dangerous attacking player.

The victory puts the Tigers into their sixth grand final since 2006. They’ll be joined on grand final day by the reserves.

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Gundagai exerted all the early pressure against Junee as the forwards ploughed ahead effectively.

A show of strength from hooker Brock Dunn, who appeared held but kept struggling to get the ball over the tryline, got the Tigers in front after five minutes and the black and golds continued to win the field position battle.

Junee’s goal line defence though held up well, and they scrambled on the occasions the Tigers managed to break free, with Dylan Cole and O’Hehir both pulled down by the last line of defence

Junee didn’t have too many scoring chances but a towering Jordan Walker bomb produced an error and from the scrum win veteran centre Peter Little dispatched Tyron Gorman with a terrific don’t argue to score in the corner for 6-all after 24 minutes.

Gundagai’s forwards again wrested back dominance but the Diesels were now moving the ball laterally and chanced their arm near their own line to good effect, with Little drawing in two and sending nuggety winger Tom Brandon racing 60m upfield, before he was hauled in by O’Hehir.

Cameron Hands then produced a pearler of a cross-field kick for Trent Fields to mark and score.

Junee wasn’t winning most of the metrics that matter in league; time in possession, play-the-ball speed, metres gained nor time in the opposition half, but they were in front 10-4 on the scoreboard.

Soon after, influential Junee hooker Trent Schubach was sin-binned for a professional foul and that was all Gundagai needed to get on the front foot and stay there.

Gorman sliced over just before half-time to make amends for his defensive lapse and then Josh Smith burst over to score on an edge, and by the time Schubach made it back onto the field his team were down 14-10 and looking weary.

Foley almost scored a long range try that may have lifted the Diesels, but Gundagai’s cover got there in the nick of time, and moments later Cameron Woo popped a neat pass for Smart to get over to score.

When O’Hehir touched down in the 56th minute the Tigers looked unstoppable at 24-10, with the left-side Gundagai attack having its way.

Junee had a couple of chances to get back into it but made some strange choices with the ball, including kicking on tackle two while attacking the tryline. They paid the price when the kick ricocheted off a Tiger and 90m later Dylan Cole was scoring for Gundagai.

An individual effort from Junee five-eighth Jordan Walker came too late, and just before full time Damian Willis, who rarely misses out against his old club, found his way to the tryline.

 

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