FOR the second year in succession Eastern Suburbs has taken out the cup final of the Bathurst 10s rugby tournament, running in four unanswered tries against the Newcastle Seaman outfit in the decider on Saturday.
The Beasties fielded a mix of players with experience in the top grade Shute Shield competition and promising colts who competed in their respective grand final this season.
It meant they were favourites to win the five-team competition staged at Ashwood Park and hosted by the Red Dog Rugby Club. It was billing they lived up to.
“This is our second tournament out here, we came down last year and played out at Stannies and won. It was really nice to play at the rugby club here today,” Beasties’ Beau Jones said.
“I absolutely love 10s. Sevens is a little bit tough for us larger fellas, but this is the perfect mix and we really enjoy it.
“It’s good for the guys that don’t play in the top team, they get an end of the season trip, and for a few of the top squad guys, this starts our pre-season.
“We bring out a team that’s half grade players and half colts players, the guys who are coming into grade next year, and they are definitely quicker than us blokes. It is certainly good to get them the ball out wide.
“Three in a row next year? Sounds good.”
Getting the ball wide was a tactic that worked well in Saturday’s final, contested over two 6½ minute halves.
Kicking off in the decider, the Beasties hit hard in defence and soon forced a turnover.
Poaching the ball at the breakdown, the Beasties spread it wide to the left wing where Dylan Luisi kicked ahead and won the chase to score with just over a minute of play gone.
Keeping the pressure on, the defending champions probed for another gap, attacking down the blindside from a scrum.
While Newcastle’s cover defence was up to the task in that case, when penalised for a high tackle soon after it gifted the Beasties good field position and another chance to attack.
Charlie Clifton, one of the host of players at the club to have come through the ranks at Saint Stanislaus’ College, capitalised on that chance as he stepped inside one defender, fended off another and crossed for a second try.
When play resumed in the second half, Newcastle’s short kick-off tactic worked well as they managed to win the ball.
However, the Seaman outfit struggled to string together phases as knock-ons and the Beasties’ work at the breakdown saw the ball change hands.
Following one of those turnovers, two more players who hail from the Central West combined for a third Beasties try. Stannies product Tom Nell put former All Saints’ College student Liam Berry into space.
Berry then sealed the win when he scooped up a dropped ball and ran 60 metres to score.
The plate final saw Bathurst Bulldogs get the better of Red Dog Rugby Club, while the Kids With Cancer charity also benefited from a raffle.
“When the raffle went past, there were guys arguing over who was going to give money. This year it’s great to see a fair bit of money go towards charity, it makes you feel good,” Jones said.