Tamworth have dipped their toe into New England rugby but not with the desired result, after reigning premiers St Albert’s College spoiled the Magpies’ debut in the zone with a 42-5 win at Rugby Park on Saturday.
A good crowd turned out for the season-opener, played on a hot autumn day. Tamworth were very much in the match at halftime, down 13-0.
But as the scorelines suggests, Albies dominated the second half, with centre Tom Condon scoring two long-range solo tries. On both occasions, he cut Tamworth up the middle to score under the posts. The second try began in his own half.
Albies hooker Sam Caster also scored two tries.
Tamworth’s only try was a close-range effort to lock Alistair Doyle, which came towards the back end of the match and after one of the Magpies’ best passages of play.
Regardless of the result, it was a special day for Tamworth and rugby in the region. Up until Saturday afternoon, Tamworth had only known one authority – Central North Rugby Union. But a 60-year association has been severed; a new relationship has been formed
Tamworth captain James Bracken said there was a sense of excitement buzzing through Tamworth’s ranks in the lead up to the match. He described Saturday’s clash as a good “hit out” and something to build on.
However, he lamented the fact that Tamworth did not stick to their game plan and “respect the ball enough”.
“The standard was good,” he said. “They’re [Albies] a very fit side. And obviously they’re a very young side, being students. It was a good physical game, and I think we’re gonna enjoy it [New England rugby].
“We had patches of good footy there. We did stick to our game plan for a little bit. And then in general play it sort of went a bit scrappy at times. But hopefully we can build on that going to Armidale next week.”
St Albert’s College coach Chris Kelly said the scoreline was not a true reflection of the match. It was an intense clash, he added, and Albies had to work hard to get in the dominate position.
“It was nice to get away with the win, and our fitness looked reasonable across the field,” he said. “But we made a lot of mistakes that essentially first-grade footy players probably shouldn’t make. I really think we’ve got a fair bit of improvement on today.”