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Narrandera sweep Proten Community Cup knockouts

The Narrandera Lizards enjoyed one of their finest days in recent history at Hillston last Saturday, with their men’s and women’s teams winning the Proten Community Cup pre-season knockout.

The always-popular competition is a precursor to the Proten Community Cup regular season, which officially kicks off in Narrandera on May 21.

For the third consecutive year, the Lizards men’s team won the competition, registering a 10-6 win over Ivanhoe in their first match before accounting for rivals Barellan in their second contest. In the final, Narrandera were too strong, coming away with a 16-6 win over hosts, Hillston.

Lizards coach Kye Longford never travelled to Hillston expecting to win but put the result down to individual brilliance.

“It was a surprise,” Longford said.

“I had new players turn up on that Friday, and we had an ordinary training session, but everyone came out of the woodwork on the day, and we played some good footy and it worked out well in the end.”

Longford, who is coaching Narrandera for the first time following a stint with Leeton, wants to see his side build ahead of the 2022 Proten Community Cup competition. He added that his players needed to buy into a full season of Rugby League.

“Individual brilliance shone, and while it was only 15 or 20 minute halves, we were able to get the job done, but heading into the main season, we will have to be able to play for longer and have some formation about us,” Longford said.

“After the win, we got together and spoke about everyone buying in and making that little extra bit of effort to get to training and everyone was on board.

“We are over winning the knockout and not going good in the season, and this year we want to change that.”

In the women’s competition, Narrandera teamed up with Rankin Springsto defeat defeated Hillston 6-4 and Goolgowi 14-4 in their opening games. In the final, Narrandera/Rankin Springs were too good for the hosts once again, beating Hillston 8-0.

The Narrandera women were over the moon taking out the nine-a-side tackle competition; coach Owen James putting it down to a solid foundation and playing smart Rugby League.

“It was just good basic footy,” James said.

“We went back to the basics of footy and there was no fancy stuff.

“The girls kept it really tight, and defensively, we were 100% and with attack it was just about possession.

“We spoke about it before the game that good defence and possession wins games, and that’s what we stuck to.”

James said the 2022 knockout victory was a massive turnaround for the Lizards women, who are really starting to buy into the club and women’s Rugby league.

“This is my first time coaching them and I’m pretty sure it’s the first time the girls have won it,” James said.

“Last time we went over there, we got flogged 40-nil, so for us it’s a massive difference.”

When asked about the sudden improvement, the Narrandera coach said his players were committed to training and playing for one another.

“I think training helps,” James said.

“We have had a good sprinkling of people turning up each session.

“At training, the ones that are turning up, they are 110% committed and that’s what brought it home at the end.”

There was a big celebration back in Narrandera following the club’s historic pre-season knockout double. James said it meant the world to him seeing his side’s hard work turning into good results.

“I have got 18 willing to play, and they all have their own story, and footy for them is a good break form normal life, and they love playing,” James said.

“They came home, and you would have thought they had won the Sydney premiership; they were stoked.”

Now the pre-season knockout has been played and won, Proten Community Cup clubs Narrandera, Barellan, Rankin Springs, Goolgowi, Ivanhoe and Hillston will prepare for the season proper, which kicks off in Narrandera later this month and runs for nine weeks.

The Grand Final will be played at Barellan on July 23.

Proten Community Cup draw: May 21 – Narrandera; May 28 – Rankin Springs; June 4 – Barellan; June 18 – Ivanhoe; June 25 – Goolgowi; July 2 – Hillston; July 9 – Semi-finals; July 16 – Preliminary final; July 23 – Grand final in Barellan.

Riverina Rugby League results and ladders

Group 9 round 2 results: Young def Albury 50-14; Wagga Brothers def Tumut 20-6, Wagga Kangaroos def Southcity 38-16.

Group 9 ladder: Young 4, Gundagai 4, Temora 4, Tumut 2, Kangaroos 2, Brothers, 2, Southcity 2, Thunder 0.

Group 20 round 3 results: Leeton def West Wyalong 54-0; Hay def Yanco-Wamoon 30-28; Darlington Point-Coleambally def Griffith Black and Whites 28-16; Griffith Waratahs def Yenda 40-28.

Group 20 ladder:  Leeton 6, Darlington Point-Coleambally 6, Griffith Waratahs 4, Hay 4, Lake Cargelligo-Tullibigeal 4, West Wyalong 4, 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.