Deniliquin Pastoral Times
Format change allows play
The Deniliquin Drovers returned from Albury on Saturday with a round 16 loss in the Southern Inland Rugby Union second grade season.
The Steamers easily accounted for Deni, 52-17, showing that a home advantage and few extra legs are beneficial.
It was uncertain until game day if the match would go ahead, given ongoing struggles for numbers for both sides due to COVID and border restrictions.
Drovers’ player Staci Richardson said both teams agreed to a format change to account for the lower numbers and allow play to go ahead.
‘‘Both teams were short of numbers so we agreed to play 13 versus 13,’’ Richardson said.
‘‘In the second half, we a had one of our players leave the field and they had more players show up so it was 14 versus 12.’’
Richardson said it started out a fairly close game, but Albury soon found an edge.
‘‘The field was wet so we tried to play a bit safer and have our backs closer together, rather then going wide and having to throw long dangerous passes,’’ Richardson said.
‘‘Our game plan was mainly to have possession for as long as possible.
‘‘Having less players on the field means there’s plenty of room to run and we knew Albury were a fit team, so the longer we kept the ball out of their hands the less chance they had to run.
‘‘They had a few really good players who stepped up, with a few very strong forwards who had pace, and then their backs were light on their feet and could run all day.’’
The Drovers did manage to get three balls across the line, through Richardson, Todd Thocolich and Scott Ison.
‘‘We appreciated the opportunity to play,’’ Richardson said.
‘‘At the end of the day we were happy with our performance and we’re just grateful we could still play.
‘‘Our strengths were our great tackling and good ball runners.’’