ROOS STAY ALIVE BUT WILL NEED A MIRACLE
By Les Muir
KANGAROOS captain-coach Ben Jeffery felt a burden lifted as the Wagga team ended a bleak month with a comprehensive 42-8 win over Junee at McDonald’s Park on Sunday.
After four straight losses, Kangaroos snapped the streak with their seven tries to two tries victory over the ravaged Diesels.
Yet again, Junee coach Matt Hands was forced to almost conjure a team minutes from the kick-off – and the players put in another wholehearted effort.
Roos bolted to a 30-4 lead by halftime but were restricted to two tries in the second half as they fell into bad habits.
Jeffery later breathed easier following a succession of disappointing results.
“It’s definitely good to get a win ... it’s been a while,” Jeffery said.
“Look at the first half and we played really well, but consistency was our problem again.”
For the Roos skipper, the significance of the success went deeper than just breaking their run of failures.
“We spoke about it during the week, each game for the rest of the season is a semi-final for us,” Jeffery said.
“We’ve kept a faint chance of sneaking in. Obviously Tumbarumba at Tumba isn’t going to be easy –and neither will Brothers and Albury be easy.”
With four runs to go before the finals, Roos are a mathematical hope of securing a spot, but they must beat Tumbarumba, Brothers and Albury to have the slightest prospect of qualifying.
Roos are currently eighth on 12 points, trailing fifth-placed Brothers by three points, with Albury and Temora sixth and seventh respectively on 14.
Although the odds are stacked against his team, Jeffery took heart from Sunday’s performance.
“It was good for the confidence,” he said.
“I thought the last 20 minutes was poor again, which has been our story all season.
“It was just lucky we were so far in front and got home.”
Roos wasted no time in putting Junee under the pump.
Jeffery worked with Kade MacDonald before scoring the opening try in the second minute before Junee struck back with a try to Aiden Sweeney off a Simon Wilson grubber nine minutes later.
It was again Jeffery at his best as Roos blasted on four tries before halftime to have the game on toast.
Jeffery threw three delightful passes to create tries for Zac Graham (15th minute), Tristan Dickson (22nd) and Jeremy Hampton (33rd) – and the result was set in concrete.
When Jeffery switched direction from a scrum win to put Dickson over for his third try in the 47th minute Roos were up 36-4 and able to coast home.
Jeffery, Dickson, Troy Barby and Hampton were excellent for the winners and Simon Wilson outstanding for the losers.
KANGAROOS 42 (T Dickson 3, B Jeffery 2, J Hampton, Z Graham tries; B Jeffery 7 goals) d JUNEE 8 (A Sweeney, S Wilson tries) at McDonald’s Park. Scrums: 8-11. Penalties: 9-7
SOUTHCITY 50 (U O’Sullivan 2, N Rose 2,S Tracey, K McCarthy, P Manawatu, J Shepherd, B Lucas tries; P Manawatu 7 goals) d GUNDAGAI 10 (T Gorman, C Barton tries; J Smart goal) at Harris Park
BROTHERS 36 (H Kirby, E Ansell, Z Wilson, L Harper, C McCauley, E Price tries; H Kirby 6 goals) d TUMUT 20 (B Draber, J Toppin, T Ioane, T Jeffery tries; J Toppin 2 goals) at Twickenham
TEMORA 30 (A Nafetalai 2, M Hughes, G Kitchingman, H Philp tries; N McGowan 3 goals) d COOTAMUNDRA 10 (J Howse, P Cameron tries; M Forsyth goal) at Les Boyd Oval. Scrums: 6-9. Penalties: 6-7