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Cherry ripe Young off to winning start in Group 9

Jeff Hanson

Before a ball was even kicked in 2022, the Young Cherrypickers had been hyped as the team to beat in the Group 9 competition, with many Rugby League pundits even spruiking the Tricolours to be one of the strongest sides in country NSW.

Led by new coach Nick Cornish, Young ensured they lived up to that reputation after beating the Wagga Kangaroos 38-12 in the opening round of the competition at McDonalds Park on Sunday.

The Cherrypickers were simply clinical, leading 14-6 at half time before scoring four second half tries to win comfortably in the end.

“It was perfect, and exactly how we wanted to start the season,” Cornish said.

“We played really structured footy, and apart from a small period of 15 minutes or so, we played how we wanted to, and it actually suspired me with how well we played and how quickly we gelled.”

Cornish, who took over from the long-serving Nick Hall, praised his predecessor for laying a good platform leading into 2022.

“I think ‘Hally’ made my job pretty easy and he built a pretty good base,” Cornish said.

“Going on from that, everyone stuck around and everything we do is similar, but we have built on that, and added a few experienced players, and everything is looking really good.”

Young have not won a Group 9 first grade premiership since 1991, and Cornish admitted there were expectations from outside and within the playing group to perform well this season.

“For me personally, I’m not really worried about what other teams are saying about us,” Cornish said.

“It’s nice that teams think those things, but we are focusing on ourselves, and we understand that we have a good shot to win it this year, but we are trying not to let it get to us.

“We will just go out there and do our job every week and try and do what everyone expects we can do.”

Young do boast a strong line-up, with the additions of Josh Ayers and Jonah Latu in the second row, creating one of the more damaging forward packs in the competition, but Cornish believes his squad is strong across the park, and more importantly, the Cherrypickers coach believes his group is willing to play for one another.

“I think from 1 to 17 we are very lucky,” Cornish said.

“There are no weak links, and everyone has gelled, and the best thing about the team we have this year, is that we have a very tight-knit group, and you can’t teach or train that, and everyone wants to play for each other.”

Young will get a chance to play at home on Saturday when hosting the Albury Thunder, and all eyes will be on the Cherrypickers, especially if they keep up their winning ways.

 

Group 9 Round One: Gundagai 42 Brothers 16, Young 38 Wagga 12, Tumut 28 Albury 12, Southcity def Junee (forfeit).

Group 9 standings: Young 2, Gundagai 2, Tumut 2, Southcity 2, Temora 2, Albury 0, Kangaroos 0, Brothers 0, Junee 0.

Group 20 Round Two: Tullibigeal-Lake Cargelligo 40 Yanco-Wamoon 10, Griffith Black and Whites 30 Griffith Waratahs 20, Leeton 32 Yenda 20, Darlington Point-Coleambally 32 Hay 22.

Group 20 standings: Darlington Point-Coleambally 4, Leeton 4, West Wyalong 4, Griffith Waratahs 2, Hay Magpies 2, Tullibigeal-Lake Cargelligo 2, Griffith Black and Whites 2, Yenda 0, Yanco-Wamoon 0.

Acknowledgement of Country

New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.