Tigers draw a line in the sand

A FIRED-UP Railways outfit snagged their first premiership points of the 2020/21 Albany and Districts Cricket Association season after an inspired bowling performance handed the Tigers a comfortable win over Collingwood Park.

Losing a number of key players in the off-season, Railways had looked like a shadow of the team that won the past seven ADCA titles.

But as champion teams often do when they’re up against it, the Tigers responded in impressive fashion.

Although Collingwood Park batted out their 45 overs, Railways were able to restrict the Kangaroos to 8/112.

Railways Captain Coen Marwick led the way with the ball, taking three wickets for just 13 runs.

Marwick, who has a knack for snaring key wickets at crucial times, dismissed Leroy Van Den Dool caught behind for 34, just as the Park batsman was looking dangerous.

Van Den Dool was the only Park player to make it past 20 as the away team struggled to find boundaries with any regularity.

After being promoted to the top of the order, Ben Grey was clean bowled by Cooper Filip- owski for a 20-ball duck, while the dangerous Nathan Dovey was caught behind for eight.

Darting off-spinner Aubin Spurr was incredibly economical for Railways, going for just 17 runs off his nine overs.

Byron Spaanderman (17*) mounted a mini fight back at the end of Park’s innings, but it was a case of too little too late as the Kangaroos crawled to their miserly total.

Defending just 113, Park were going to need a bunch of early wickets to have any chance of making a miraculous fight back.

And Grey delivered for his captain in the fifth over, ripping straight through the defence of aggressive opener Alan Pietersen for 5.

Wickets then fell at regular intervals, with Spurr (17) and Marwick (20) back in the sheds before the end of the 15th over.

The trouble for Park was they couldn’t stop Railways scoring quick runs.

Ryan Davies notched up a run-a-ball 23, while debutant Oswin D’Sylva hit three boundaries during his knock of 18.

After losing too many key batsmen, Railways failed to secure a bonus-point win, with Jarrad Fuller smashing consecutive fours to seal victory in the 32nd over.

Just a few hundred metres away at Centennial Park, Royals notched up their second win on the trot with a 30-run triumph over Manypeaks.

Batting first, Royals reached 8/178 off their 45 overs as young gun Ryley Valli continued to show a level of maturity well beyond his years.

A classy 47 at the top of the order took Valli’s season run tally to 143 at an average of 71.50.

The 16-year-old is the ADCA’s leading run scorer in A-grade.

When Royals captain Mitch Green came to the crease, the Lions were 1-76 in the 21st over.

Green looked back to his best form as he went on to make 47 from 61 balls, including three big sixes over square leg.

Young fast bowler Charlie Walters bowled magnificently at the death for Peaks, finish- ing with 4/30 off his nine-over spell.

Requiring 179 for victory, Manypeaks’ chase couldn’t have got off to a worse start, with captain Aran Tilbury run out for a diamond duck in the first over.

Last season’s grand finalists were in all sorts after swing bowler Tyler Crommelin trapped Regan Poett LBW after facing just five balls.

When Railways recruit David Brown had Ethan Drew out for two, Peaks had slumped to 4/33 inside ten overs.

Ryan Kinnear and Kieran Howie dug in to save their side from a hefty defeat, combining for a slow-and-steady 78-run partnership.

Peaks needed about six runs an over off the last 10 to pull off an unlikely win but couldn’t find another gear as they were bowled out for 148 in the 44th over.

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Gutsy Sea Dragons make their mark on inaugural comp

THE Albany Sea Dragons punched well above their weight to reach the grand final of the inaugural Great Southern Nines rugby league tournament at Centennial Oval last weekend.

Powerhouse Perth side Fremantle Roosters were convincing winners in the Nines decider – running out 30-8 victors – but the underdog Sea Dragons gained a heap of admiration for the way they went about it on and off the field.

The Sea Dragons’ gutsy performance was summed up by the efforts of young defender Naki La’akulu, who suffered a serious head injury in the grand final and had to be taken to hospital.

Albany Sea Dragons President Gary Tutt said La’akulu was in good spirits after being flown to Perth for recovery.

“As soon as the injury happened, everyone was concerned, everyone was out there making sure he was okay,” he said.

“I’ve had follow-up phone calls from the other clubs asking us for an update, which is amazing. They were all genuinely concerned.”

The incident added a sour note to a tournament that was otherwise hailed a big success.

NRLWA Operations Manager Tony Crowe said the Great Southern Nines was now a lock on the local rugby calendar.

“We are really happy with the initial outcome, given it was the inaugural year with five teams participating,” he said.

“Three of those teams have already committed to next year.

“We will use this as a platform. We believe on the back of that, there will be more teams coming down from Perth.”

As part of the tournament, over 40 local kids took part in a skills clinic on Sunday morning run by NRLWA.

“We now have a casual game development officer based in Albany as a result of this,” he said.

“The great work Gary Tutt and the Albany Sea Dragons have done is not to be underestimated.

“We are fortunate to have good people on the ground down there that are driving the game at a local level.

“Katanning has traditionally had a massive rugby union history, but we seem to have, over the last 12 months, taken a solid hold of the place and a good footprint there for rugby league.

“There is lots to look forward to.”

After losing their open- ing match against the Roosters by two points, the Sea Dragons quickly recovered to down Serpentine-Jarrahdale 12-10 in a nail biter.

And despite losing to Mandurah Storm by 10 points earlier in the day, the Sea Dragons later turned that result on its head to defeat the visiting team by 36-10 and book a place in the grand final.

Tutt said he couldn’t have been prouder of the Sea Dragons’ efforts.

“They gave all they had,” he said.

“We’ve got to remember, these teams are seasoned competitors, so they’ve been together a long time.

“Our team hasn’t had the opportunity to train a lot together and we have to try and work together from three different towns.

“For us to be a rag tag army, we did really well.”

Tutt said the Southern Nines would be back bigger and better next year.

“All the patrons, spectators and teams were really happy with it,” he said.

“A lot of the teams said they are going to bring back two or three squads next year.

“Hopefully next year we get twice as many clubs.

“I couldn’t have asked for anything more from our first tournament.”

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Rugby league teams make their way south

THE ALBANY Sea Dragons are gearing up for the biggest event in their short history, with rugby league players from across south west WA travelling to Albany this weekend for the inaugural Great Southern Nines tournament.

Play will kick off from 10.30am on Saturday afternoon at Centennial Park (corner of North Road and Campbell Road) in a round robin format that will feature visiting teams from Mandurah, Fremantle, Rockingham and Serpentine.

The top four sides will progress to elimination finals, with the remaining two teams battling it out for glory in a grand final on Sunday at 11am.

Albany Sea Dragons co-captain Elliot Price said it was a great opportunity for his team to test themselves against some class opposition.

“We have travelled elsewhere like Bunbury to play matches, but it’s great for them to come down here,” he said.

Price will co-captain his team – which is made of players from Kojonup, Katanning and Denmark – in tandem with Fineongo Halai.

“I’ve always wanted there to be rugby down in Albany,” Price said.

“As soon as there was a mention of a rugby league down here, I had to be part of it.”

Unlike your normal rugby league games where there is 13 players on each team, the Nines format – you guessed it – only has nine players per side.

It’s also a much shorter game, with each half lasting nine minutes.

“There are less stoppages, smaller scrums – it’s mostly just play on,” Price said.

“It’s a quicker version of an al- ready quick game.”

As part of the tournament, NRL WA is hosting two skills clinics for young rugby enthusiasts.

Kids aged between six and 16 can take part in either of two sessions on Friday from 4.30 to 6pm or Sunday from 9.30 to 11am at Centennial Park.

Albany Sea Dragons President Garry Tutt said the weekend’s festivities were part of a wider push to grow rugby league in the Great Southern.

“There are a lot of people in town who support rugby league,” he said.

“The main reason I think they don’t come down and watch the games is they aren’t aware it’s on.

“Once we get our footprint down, I think people will take more interest.

“We are working towards creating a Great Southern league with Kojonup, Katanning, Denmark and being able to at least play a Nines competition between us all.”

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Inaugural rugby league comp part of wider push to grow sport in Great Southern

RUGBY league fanatics from around WA will converge in Albany later this month for the inaugural Great Southern Nines tournament.

About 500 people are expected to make their way south to take part in the event on November 21 – featuring teams from Rockingham, Mandurah, Jarrahdale and Fremantle.

Host club Albany Sea Dragons is fielding two competitive sides made up of players from Kojonup, Katanning, Denmark and Albany.

The matches will be played on the corner of Campbell and North Road in the Centennial Oval Sports Precinct from midday.

The event is part of a wider push to grow rugby league in the south of the state, with the Sea Dragons planning to start their own local rugby league competition next year.

“The local Albany community are right behind us,” Albany Sea Dragons President Gary Tutt said.

“Everyone is happy for a new sport to take place. “Covid slowed down having games this year, but we are still having kids rock up every Sunday for training.”

Tutt said the Sea Dragons would field four teams next year and play intraclub matches against each other across the Great Southern.

“At the moment it’s hard for anyone else to create a team,” he said.

“So we are using the Sea Dragons as a footing to grow potentially what will become the Great Southern Rugby League.”

In the lead up to the Great Southern Nines, Tutt said NRL WA would be holding school clinics – culminating in an open day with Perth players on Sunday, November 21.

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Revamped Bulls set early season marker

A NEW-look Mount Barker side have made a big statement in the opening round of the A-grade Albany and Districts Cricket Association, thrashing 2020 grand finalists Manypeaks by 100 runs at Sounness Park.

Star off-season recruit Nathan Crudeli top scored for the home side with a classy 65 on debut, while former Zimbabwean test player Neil Ferreira was a rock at the top of the order for the Bulls.

After winning the toss and batting first, Ferreira put on a 59-run opening stand with Alex Fergie before the latter was run out for 26.

Peaks veteran Ryan Kinnear was up to his old tricks with the ball, snaring Bulls Captain Jeremy Wood for 12 to give the away side a bit of momentum.

But that was quicky snuffed out when Crudeli walked to the crease, as the former Railways captain combined for a 52-run partnership with Ferreira.

When Ferreira was dismissed for a well-compiled 64, Mount Barker were 132-3 at the end of the 32nd over.

With plenty of batsmen left in the shed, the Bulls upped the ante late in their innings to pile on 92 runs from the final 13 overs.

Chasing 224, Manypeaks were going to need one of their batsmen to make a big score.

But when Crudeli snagged Peaks opener Regan Poett for 7, the outlook was grim at 2-19.

Peaks couldn’t manage to get a meaningful partnership going, losing wickets at regular intervals to eventually be bowled out for 114 in the 34 over.

Seb Stanton (26) and Kieren Howie (35) were shining lights on an otherwise disappointing day for last season’s minor premiers.

In a man-of-match performance, Ferreira finished with figures of 4/22.

Over in Albany, Royals failed to chase down 146 as Collingwood Park secured their first premiership points for the 2020/21 season.

Winning the toss and electing to bat on a muggy overcast day, Park were in trouble early after losing their top three batters in the first six overs.

Former Railways fast bowler David ‘Tractor’ Brown snared his first wicket on debut for Royals with a lovely line and length delivery that clipped Nick Barrow’s off-stump.

Big hitters Matt Heberle and Nathan Dovey then went about resurrecting their team’s innings with a crucial 42-run partnership.

Dovey was looking in ominous form before he held out on the square leg fence off the bowling of paceman Marcus Mellon for 18.

Four overs later Heberle (40) was also caught in the deep as spinner Angus Thompson went to work with his dipping leg breaks.

At 6-76, Collingwood Park were in trouble of being rolled for under 100. But young talent Dustin Boyce was able to play a mature knock to guide his side to a defendable target of 146.

In reply, Royals’ chase couldn’t have got off to a worse start as openers Daniel Robson and Tyler Crommelin were dismissed for ducks.

Star batsmen Mitch Green and Ryley Valli steadied the ship for the Lions, putting on a 44-run partnership at quick fire pace.

Green hit Peaks paceman Mitch Woods for consecutive boundaries before the Royals captain tried one too many big shots and was bowled for 34.

Valli (49*) played a lone hand for Royals as the lower order collapsed to be all out for 131 in 36 overs.

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Bishop’s global football crusade

WA FOOTBALL Commission Regional Development Specialist Matt Bishop led a varied life getting to his current role; from wanna-be veterinarian, to agriculture, to being awarded life membership to the United States Australian Football League.

Bishop also coached against Hawthorn star and 1986 Brownlow medallist Robert ‘Dipper’ DiPierdomenico at the 2011 International Cup.

Dipper had the reins for the Peace Team – a side with players from Israel and Palestine, a humanity story that was made into a documentary.

But let’s get back to the start.

Bishop was born in Victoria and also lived in NSW and Queensland where he finished high school.

He initially wanted to be a veterinarian and commenced university studies before changing to, and completing, an agricultural science degree.

Working for Meat and Livestock Australia, including visiting Fletchers which played a part in his moving to Albany in later years, he relocated to Washington DC with the organisation.

He was then offered a job in Sacramento, California and along with wife Amy, moved west.

“When I moved to the US I was aware that footy was played in places but I had no idea what to expect,” Bishop said.

“I had played club footy since I was young and I always had a footy or cricket bat/ball in my hands from very early on.

“So when I turned up to my first training session in Washington DC, I was blown away to find out there was a competition involving teams from north-eastern cities such as Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington and North Carolina.

“Full games of footy would only be played against one or more of these teams on a monthly basis.

“In the meantime your local team would be split up into smaller teams to play Metro Footy. This is essentially what AFLX is modelled on.”

A highlight was Bishop coaching a representative side in 2006 that won the Division Two at the National Titles in Las Vegas, commentated by Dipper and Peter Schwab.

Bishop said an exciting aspect of the Nationals was the numerous AFL identities that visited and were fantastic in making themselves available.

Visitors included, Mark Thompson, Kevin Sheedy, Steven Silvagni, Dermott Brereton, Jobe Watson and Nick Riewoldt to name a few.

After moving to Sacramento, Bishop coached the Golden Gate team in 2010-11 and began coaching the USA men’s team in 2009, holding that role until the completion

Bishop also became close with AFL legend Paul Roos, who is married to an American and spent a year in San Diego after finishing his playing career.

Roos coached the first USA men’s team and is credited with growing the popularity of footy in the US when it was in its infancy.

Bishop also assisted in the AFL Combines, to identify athletic talent with potential to play AFL and met those that were successful such as Shae McNamara and Mason Cox (Collingwood), Jason Holmes (St Kilda) and Eric Wallace (North Melbourne).

These events were also attended by several AFL Recruiters such as Stephen Silvagni, Gavin Wright and Jason Cripps.

Bishop returned to Australia in 2017, by then he had two young children and did not want to commit to educating them in the US system.

“And we weren’t ready to endure the Trump regime,” he added.

Bishop’s role covers everything from Auskick, juniors through to senior football, coach and umpire development, league and club support through to working with Local and State governments on facilities.

Bishop said the most exciting development is the interest in female football.

“There is no doubt that female footy is going to explode throughout WA in the short to medium term,” he said.

“In some ways WA is behind the eastern states in this area but it will catch up very fast.

“The GSFLW was very successful in 2020, prior to covid, and the opportunity to establish competitions for girls of all ages is there for the taking.”

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Redbacks’ pace attack venomous

REDBACKS opened their account with a thrilling win over Griffins in the opening round of the Albany and Districts Cricket Association Under 14s at Collingwood Park last Saturday.

Griffins batted first and started horribly when Hayden Leo was run out without facing a ball.

But opener Vincent Bascombe was joined by Jed Kowald and they put on an entertaining partnership of 38, dominated by Kowald who was scoring at a run a ball.

Kowald hit two fours in his 25, and once Bascombe departed for 18, Griffins collapsed to be all out for 91.

For Redbacks, Xavier McGregor and Bryden Guelfi both took a couple of wickets.

The classy Rory Sutherland got the Redbacks off to a promising start, before he was run out unnecessarily for 19 including a couple of boundaries.

Fynn Kelleher-Bird with 19 and a quick-fire 10 from McGregor had them closing in on the target but with wickets running low, before Harvey Taylor steadied the ship with a patient 11 and the Redbacks finished on 7/98 off their 25 overs.

Ryan Hams was the pick of the Griffins bowlers finishing with 3/7 off his three overs.

Blues went straight to the top of the ladder after they belted Plantagenet White by 150 runs.

At one stage the Blues were 1/147 with Teague Valli retiring on 50 with five boundaries, Charlie Cousins also retiring on 38 and a host of batsmen getting solid starts.

John Righton took 3/12 off his four overs to be a shining light for Plantagenet.

Maxwell Wright (17) and Ryan Bedford (13) had their side well placed at 1/32 but once they departed the tail collapsed and they were all out for 79 in the 31st over.

Warriors moved into second place with a 43-run victory over Denmark at Tigerland.

Opener Milan Jaggi set the tone with 39 off only 42 balls and son-of-a-gun Rory Luscombe made a quick-fire 31 before he was run out.

For Denmark, Jackson Ross hit four boundaries in a well-compiled 36.

The final game saw Kings 9/141 defeat Plantagenet Green, all out for 101.

Extras top-scored for the Kings with 51, including an astonishing 37 wides which cost Plantagenet the game.

Next week, in the game of the round, Redbacks take on Warriors at Collingwood Park on Saturday.

Denmark are at home to Plantagenet Green, Kings play Griffins at Tigerland and Plantagenet Green clash with an in-form Blues at Sounness Park.

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Junior rugby event hailed as a success

THE Great Southern isn’t renowned for producing star rugby players, but you wouldn’t have guessed it watching the weekend’s Junior 7s rugby tournament.

Coming up against metropolitan and country teams from around the state, Albany Storm’s under 11s side were a cut above the rest as they ended the competition cup winners.

Palmyra were crowned the under 10s cup winners, while Kalamunda took home the under 12s title.

The local rugby community would be toasting another highly successful year hosting the Albany Junior 7s tournament after more than 400 kids from 40 different teams descended upon the port city for the two-day carnival.

RugbyWA Regional Development Manager Dane Lazarus said it was a record turnout.

“It’s growing each year,” he said.

“It has been well-received. There were teams that couldn’t get accommodation in Albany this time of year, so no doubt there would have been even more.

“It will go up to the under 13 age group next year.”

Mr Lazarus said the Great Southern was an untapped gold mine for rugby talent.

“We want to make sure every kid in WA has the opportunity to play rugby and showcase their skills,” he said.

“We’ve been trying to get more kids involved in the rugby club down there in preparation for the tournament.

“I have no doubt the crop of young kids coming through, in 10 year’s time they will form the colts team and grow into a seniors team.

“It will flourish.”

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Kowald overcomes injury to star

SHERIDAN Kowald wasn’t even supposed to be playing in this year’s Albany Netball Association (ANA) grand final, but the Narrikup goal shooter ended up carrying her team to a famous underdog victory.

When the 21-year old tore her ACL playing footy for Mount Barker in March, participating in any kind of sport in 2020 seemed a long way away.

That fateful March day wasn’t the first time Kowald had seriously damaged her knee, either.

Less than three years earlier she had done the same injury playing netball for Lake Grace.

“It’s a weird feeling,” Kowald explained.

“There’s pain for about two minutes, you hear it snap and you can’t put weight on it.

“Then there’s no pain, but there’s no support so you can’t walk on it. You try to get up but you just fall over.”

Injuring her ACL for the second time, Kowald’s thoughts immediately turned to the long, agonising road back to recovery.

“Straight away I was in hysterics,” she said.

“I was a mess for five to six weeks just crying every day. The mental battle is really tough.”

With professional sportspeople typically taking anywhere between 9-12 months to fully recover from a torn ACL, Kowald certainly didn’t think she would be playing competitive netball in 2020.

But as the old saying goes, never write off a champion. And you get the impression the 21-year old relishes a challenge.

Determined to get back fitter and stronger than ever before, Kowald went about doing everything she could to reach full fitness in record time.

“At the six week mark I got back to running – they recommend about double that time,” she said.

“Sometimes I would do a two-hour gym session and go to netball training.”

About five months after the injury, Kowald’s Narrikup coach Lisa O’Farrell noticed the young star was moving pretty smoothly out on the court and asked whether a return date was possible.

At the time, Narrikup had lost four of their first seven games.

“Lisa came up and asked me if I wanted to set a date to play a game,” Kowald said.

“She gave me confidence. She was relying on me to lift the girls.”

Thrilled with Kowald’s progress, her surgeon gave the all clear to return to competitive sport just six months after that dark day in March.

But the 21 year-old’s physiotherapist and parents were more sceptical.

“It’s not that they didn’t support me, they were just worried about what could happen,” she said.

“I had people recommending I never go back to sport. But sport is my whole life.”

The Katanning product did however have the undying support of her Narrikup teammates.

“There were so many signs just pushing for yes, rather than no,” she said.

“The whole team support system was massive. It was a big boost.”

Making a return to the court, albeit under limited game time, Kowald immediately made an impact.

“I think I shot at 85 per cent my first game,” she said.

“It felt like a reward. It was the best feeling.”

After finishing the season in third position behind the likes of Railways and Royals Saints, who had both only lost one game all year, Narrikup looked on paper to be making up the numbers.

But with Kowald now back playing full minutes, an inspired Narrikup outfit dismantled each of their finals opponents.

Narrikup tore Royals apart in a preliminary final before spoiling Railways’ first ANA A1 Grand Final appearance with a commanding 10-point victory.

Kowald was untouchable upfront for Narrikup in the A1 decider, taking home the Lucille Holt trophy as best player of the day.

“It was pure satisfaction,” she said.

“Literally, it was so surreal. I was in the zone.

“As soon as the final whistle went in the grand final, my body was done. I had nothing left in the tank.”

What’s next for the young netball star?

She still has dreams of one day playing either football or netball at a professional level, but is very much taking it one step at a time.

“I’ve just got to perform now,” Kowald said.

“Hopefully this time next year I will be stronger than I’ve ever been.”

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Claremont suffer triple tragedy on WAFL’s big stage

THREE Claremont sides littered with Great Southern talent couldn’t make the most of their opportunity on the big stage as the Tigers’ colts, reserves and league teams suffered agonising grand final defeats on Sunday in the WAFL.

Not even a dominant performance from Denmark-Walpole product Kalin Lane could power Claremont’s colts side to premiership glory, with Subiaco upsetting the minor premiers by a whopping 79 points.

After leading by 14-points at the main break, Subiaco put Claremont to the sword in the second half as they piled on nine goals to run out 15.12 (102) to 6.7 (43) victors.

Lane almost played a lone hand in the ruck for the Tigers, finishing with 14 disposals, five marks and 32 hit outs.

Albany Sharks talent Kieran Gowdie was Claremont’s only multiple goal kicker with two majors, while Railways defender Jacob Blight (16 disposals) wouldn’t have lost any admirers.

It was a much tighter, lower-scoring contest in Claremont’s do-or-die final against South Fremantle in the league decider as the Bulldogs held on for a memorable three-point win in front of 10,179 fans at Fremantle Oval.

Claremont midfielder Jye Bolton (35 disposals) was awarded the Simpson Medal as best on ground, winning ahead of Bulldogs utility Zach Strom (two goals and 16 disposals).

In terms of Great Southern representatives, Declan Mountford worked hard at the coalface for Claremont to end the grand final with 16 disposals and a mammoth 12 tackles.

Jerramungup talent Tom Baldwin finished with eight possessions, while Royals’ Tyron Smallwood amassed four kicks and five tackles in their side’s 6.10 (46) to 6.7 (43) defeat.

Katanning’s Haiden Schloithe was a colossal presence in the engine room for South Fremantle as the Bulldogs held on in the final moments of a see-sawing contest to seal their first WAFL premiership since 2009.

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