Camden have secured their position in the Group Six Rugby League finals after a difficult and hard fought 32-12 win over Thirlmere on Saturday night at Kirkham Park.
The Rams booked a semi final appointment with Picton next Sunday afternoon at home, after their 20 point win, and also ensured Appin would finish fifth on the ladder, with the Roosters not being able to compete in the finals as a result.
Conditions were not conducive to open and expansive football, with cool, wet conditions prevailing and making basic handling and footwork difficult for both sides.
Thirlmere actually surprised many by opening the scoring after 14 minutes, but Alex Canham returned serve eight minutes later, and that was all the scoring in a dour first 40 minutes in front of a disappointing crowd.
Both sides knew there was plenty on the line at halftime, and the Roosters would have known even a draw would have seen them progress to the finals, but they would have focused on the win.
Nick Crouch opened the scoring for Camden 10 minutes after the break, with a nice solo effort after a Roosters turnover to give the hardy local fans something to cheer about.
Hooker Todd Pes extended the lead for the Rams on the hour, before another try to inspirational Camden front rower Ray Cashmere which gave the Rams breathing space, and all but ensured the Roosters wouldn’t be playing beyond this weekend.
Michael Wright finished a nice move down the right wing to extend the lead, before a late consolation try to Thirlmere’s Yileen Gordon with five minutes left simply added respectability to the scoreline at 28-12.
The Rams finished off the night with a spectacular try on the siren to Chris Browne, and took a 32-12 win over Thirlmere to finish second on the ladder and condemn Thirlmere to the sidelines during the finals.
Rams coach Mitch Newton was pleased with the effort from his side, in the trying conditions, and said they were happy to record consecutive wins heading into the finals.
Newton said his side’s defence was the key, and admitted ‘we defended sensational’, in the trying conditions on Saturday night.
Newton said he wasn’t worried about the amount of dropped ball from his side, but allowed for the conditions which contributed to their errors.
Newton was confident when looking forward to their semi final with Picton, who are the reigning premiers, and said ‘they know it (the ground) well, but it’s our home ground, so we’ll be giving it a good shot’.
Newton said Chris Browne, who played halfback on Saturday, was among the better players for the Rams, and Ray Cashmere, who was among the best forwards on the park for Camden.
At Victoria Park, The Picton Magpies secured a win in Round 18 of the Group Six Rugby League Premiership on Sunday afternoon, in atrocious conditions.
Both sides struggled with handling and footwork during the afternoon, but considering the conditions at hand, attempted to play attractive football, with some glimpses of quality being shown among the mud and rain.
Picton winger Nick Taylor bagged the first of his double after 15 minutes, to open the scoring, when ducks would have been the only spectators happy in the conditions.
Alex Peters scored five minutes later to double Picton’s lead, after some nice handling and structure down the Picton left.
Taylor bagged his double after 25 minutes, and a tough conversion saw Picton take a 14 point lead into the sheds, with no further scoring being seen before the halftime siren sounded.
Picton wore their alternate jerseys in the second half, in one of the few highlights during the match. Erin Blackshaw scored Mittagong’s only try of the afternoon 8 minutes into the second half, but their fightback was short lived, as they trailed 14-6 and struggled to handle the extremely heavy and difficult conditions.
Picton fullback Donny Thompson scored the last try of the day, with still another 19 minutes remaining on the clock, but handling wasn’t at its best from either side, despite valiant attempts from both clubs.
The Magpies recorded the 20-6 victory, which wasn’t able to move them up the ladder from third position, following Camden’s win over Thirlmere on Saturday night, while Mittagong couldn’t be dislodged from the top of the table, despite their loss to the Magpies.
Picton coach Gary Dowse was pleased with the performance from his side in the trying conditions, but admitted his side would need to be on their game to defeat Camden in next week’s Qualifying Semi Final.
Dowse said ‘we needed to play footy and we needed to have a good hitout and we did’ when talking about the win.
Dowse admitted ‘our handling in the first half was as good as what it’s been, even in dry weather, this year, so it’s good for us’. Dowse said his side all tried hard, and didn’t want to single out a particular player for.
A Mittagong spokesman after the game said coach Scott Borg was disappointed with the effort in the first half, but they improved in the second half.
The other match between Campbelltown City and The Oaks didn’t go ahead, due to the inclement weather, and won’t be rescheduled, as neither side can reach the finals, which begin next weekend.
Week 1 of the Group Six Rugby League Final Series, which commences on Saturday afternoon/evening at Thirlmere:
2.40pm – Thirlmere Roosters vs Narellan Jets (U/18-1) Qualifying Semi
4.15pm – Bundanoon Highlanders vs Picton Magpies (2nd Div) Elimination Semi
5.50pm – Robertson Spuddies vs Mt Annan Knights (2nd Div) Qualifying Semi
7.30pm – Mittagong Lions vs Picton Magpies (Res) Qualifying Semi
Sunday at Kirkham Park, Camden:
8.40am – The Oaks Tigers vs Thirlmere Roosters (U/18-2) Elimination Semi
10.15am – Mittagong Lions vs Picton Magpies (U/18-1) Elimination Semi
11.50am – Narellan Jets vs Camden Rams (Res) Elimination Semi
1.25pm – Camden Rams vs Picton Magpies (1st) Qualifying Semi (loser continues into Week 2)
3.00pm – Narellan Jets vs Appin Dogs (1st) Elimination Semi (loser eliminated from finals)
The following teams will play next weekend, as they finished Minor Premiers.
U/18-2 – Mt Annan Knights (1st) vs Warragamba Wombats (2nd)
U/18-1 – Camden Rams
2nd Division – Narellan Jets
Reserve Grade – Thirlmere Roosters
1st Grade – Mittagong Lions