By Les Muir

YOUNG captain-coach James Woolford was left perplexed after the Cherrypickers defied a depleted Junee 28-12 at Laurie Daley Oval on Sunday.

Despite Junee having to scramble to get a team together minutes before the kick-off, Young was pushed to the limit before emerging with an unconvincing victory.

At one stage the Cherrypickers seemed on target for a landslide result – they led 18-0 inside 18 minutes – but Junee rallied to take them almost to the edge.

As injured Junee coach Matt Hands later lauded his makeshift team, Woolford did a superb job of keeping under control his frustration at a 9-2 penalty count against Young.

“What do you do?” Woolford said.

“I didn’t think we were that bad; I didn’t think we were that ill-disciplined.

“Things didn’t go our way.”

Remarkably, Junee received the opening seven penalties of the game, while Young got their first penalty in the 64th minute.

Along the way, Young also had glamour halfback Ray Talimalie sin-binned for 10 minutes for an illegal tackle on Junee fullback Daniel Foley in the 31st minute.

But as Woolford admitted later, Young got distracted after roaring out to the 18-0 advantage.   

“Our start was good, but we didn’t quite play for the 80 minutes, and we got sucked into a bit of stuff, but we came through,” Woolford said.

“We’ll take the two points.

“They (Junee) did a bit of everything and a few things came off for them.”

With Young firmly entrenched in third place on the ladder, Woolford has every reason to feel satisfied five weeks out from the finals.

“We’ll go into a bye and have a bit of a rest and let everyone else bash each other,” he said.

“Hopefully we’ll come back pretty fresh with four games to go.”

Young certainly had Junee on toast early on, with Talimalie scoring a brilliant stepping try in the fourth minute and creating one for Tom Bush in the 16th minute.

In between, Woolford put William Scott blazing over for a try in the seventh minute and the Diesels were in strife.

However, Young lost momentum and Junee found some starch in defence and kept the Cherrypickers scoreless for 46 minutes.

Rising to the occasion, Junee grabbed tries to Daniel Foley (25th minute) and Simon Wilson (50th) to be down 18-12 – and looking menacing.

A couple of near-misses for Diesels were costly before a Talimalie bomb and a spectacular leap from Lachlan Jackson produced a try for Scott in the 62nd minute.

Up 22-12, Young were safe but there was still relief when Jesse Corcoran scored a super try in the 72nd minute.

With Hands only finalising the team at the end of the reserve grade game, Junee was gallant in trying circumstances.

“I’m real proud of them considering we warmed up with five fellas and used 12 ressies boys,” Hands said.

“They just went out there and had a crack.

“It got pretty scrappy but we’d spoken about frustrating Young keeping ourselves in the game.”

Hard-working prop Kyle Richens and Jackson were outstanding for the winners, but Woolford was also a tremendous contributor.

Likewise, Foley, Wilson and Trent Schuback gave the losers everything.


YOUNG 28 (W Scott 2, T Bush, J Corcoran, R Talimalie tries; R Talimalie 4 goals) d JUNEE 12 (D Foley, S Wilson tries; C Hands goal) at Laurie Daley Oval. Scrums: 5-12. Penalties: 2-9


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