After his side completed a comfortable, if not comprehensive 24-4 opening round win in the Andrew Johns Cup, Western under 16s coach Kurt Hancock talked up the Rams’ effort.
The defending champions, Western was at times scrappy in its execution and, Hancock admits, drifted sideways in attack for most of the match against the Penrith Panthers under 15s at Glen Willow on Saturday.
But in terms of heart, Western had, to borrow a line from Gene Hackman in the wonderful NFL movie The Replacements, miles and miles of it.
“To be able to be a bit off and still win 24-4, it’s a good sign,” Hancock said on Saturday.
“They just give you the best effort every time they go. If they’re a bit off or not, they’ll give you that. I’m really pleased.”
No one more than young hooker Josh Dominello gave more effort for the green and white jumper.
He personified it.
The diminutive rake punched well above his weight against the powerful pack of the western Sydney giants, bagging a try for his efforts with a sneaky dart out of acting half.
Not once did he, or back-up hooker Elijah Colliss, take a backward step.
“We’ve got two nines that are exactly the same, we played with that today and it didn’t quite work. Our attack was a bit sideways, all over the shop, we couldn’t get those boys going direct,” Hancock admitted.
“But young Josh Dominello, he’s a terrior, he gives you everything. You know what you’re going to get with Josh.
“I know he had a stint with the Raiders, he’s come back and you can see the difference.
“He’s a good little talent, if they can look past his size.”
The Rams built up a 24-0 lead thanks to tries from Aiden Nunn, Harry Sullivan, Dominello and Jayden Fisher - the left boot of gun fullback Tyler Colley nailing four conversions – before the visitors nabbed a late consolation try through big prop Lachy Whitehouse.
Nunn’s four-pointer opened the scoring, the Blayney flier latching on to a pass from gun half Noah Griffiths, who was also sensational for the Rams.
The 2017 Australian Schoolboys under 15s No.7, whenever Griffiths ran the ball he tore Penrith to shreds.
But as Hancock mentioned earlier, his side’s attack was a touch off in the championship opener.
“We were clunky today, but (Penrith) is a tough group,” he said.
“I thought last week at camp might have taken the edge off them, but it’s funny, I can afford to do that with the football side I’ve got.
“They were just a bit over keen and just forgot a bit of the structure and tried to make a difference individually rather than help each other.”
Bloomfield brothers Mason and Marlin Pollack were brilliant for the Rams in the 20-point win, as well, while, for the Panthers, Byron Aiolupotea and John Sagaga showed flashes of brilliance and power in their sides’ debut in the country championship.
- WESTERN 24 (Josh Dominello, Aiden Nunn, Harry Sullivan, Jayden Fisher tries; Tyler Colley 4 goals) def PENRITH PANTHERS 4 (Lachlan Whitehouse try).