Temora Dragons have won the Inaugural Group 9 Challenge Cup match after beating Wagga Kangaroos 30-12 at McDonald’s Park on Saturday.
In what is a fresh take on the once very popular concept, the Dragons were the initial holders of the Group 9 Challenge Cup, which was introduced by competition organisers to add extra excitement to matches throughout the season.
The concept is simple in that one team holds the Cup, and an opposing team drawn to play the holder in any round can pay the $1000 fee to challenge for the silverware.
In the instance of Saturday’s round three Group 9 fixture, the Wagga Kangaroos paid the $1000 fee and the Dragons won; meaning they are $1000 richer and still the holders of the Challenge Cup until at least Round Four.
Temora Dragons fullback Hamish Starr said winning their first Challenge Cup game meant more to the group after the result, but he explained his side now wanted to keep winning.
“It didn’t mean too much at first, especially being drawn out of a hat, but now that we have won it, it means a lot more,” Starr said.
“Of course, we want to win it again. Our plan is to go out every week and try and win, so you want to hold the Cup every week, and with it being a $1000 to the club each time we win, it’s a massive incentive and a good reason to try and play for it.”
Starr hopes the concept grows, but he admitted winning the regular season game and earning two competition points was Temora’s main focus.
“It wasn’t really harped on about until we went and started to warm up for the game on Saturday and that’s when we realised, we were playing for the trophy,” Starr said.
“For us, it was more about focusing on our goals, like completing our sets, and knowing if we play well the result will come, but winning it was good and hopefully we can hold onto it for a while.”
The Dragons already have a challenger in Round Four of the competition, with Robbie Byatt and his Albury Thunder playing for the Group 9 Challenge Cup on Sunday when they make the long trip to Temora to take on the Dragons at Nixon Park.
Albury will front up with the $1000 fee for the right to challenge for the Cup and Byatt said his side was keen to take on the Dragons for both the two Group 9 competition points and silverware.
“You want to win the game no matter what, and to potentially come out with the Cup as well; that is a bonus to go with it if we can win,” Byatt said.
“It’s an added challenge to the game, and to come away with a bit of silverware and a win, that would be great for us.”
The Group 9 Challenge Cup is only a new concept, with the Dragons named the initial holders of the trophy after being drawn out of a hat prior to their win over the Kangaroos on Saturday.
Byatt said the Cup concept could work in Group 9, indicating he had seen similar competitions work while playing Rugby League abroad.
“I reckon once everyone gets a grasp of what’s going on, it could be really popular,” Byatt said.
“They had similar things over in England when I was there playing, and everyone got up and about for them, so it could be good here.”
The Challenge Cup is reminiscent of the now defunct Maher Cup, but is different in the sense that it works in with the Group 9 draw and allows clubs to play for the $5,000 prize awarded to the team still holding the trophy once the season comes to a close.
Group 9 Chairman Andrew Hinchliffe said the goal of introducing the Challenge Cup was to add more excitement to Group 9 regular season matches, especially as the seasons wears on.
“The Challenge Cup is a new concept and it is born out of trying to create some additional excitement during the season, and it will add some value with teams trying to challenge for that $5000 prize at the end of the season,” Hinchcliffe said.
“Plus, it opens the door for teams that might look like they are going to miss finals, and it gives them something to play for later in the season.
“We are anticipating as the season draws on, and the competition gets towards the season’s end, there will be more thought and preparation put into winning it by clubs.
“We will see how it goes this year and hopefully the Challenge Cup ends up being something that has a long lifetime.”
Riverina results and standings
Group 9 Round Three results: Albury defeated Southcity 46-6; Temora def Kangaroos 30-12; Gundagai def Tumut 20-0; Young def Brothers 56-10.
Group 9 ladder: Young 6, Tigers 6, Temora 6, Albury 2, Tumut 2, Kangaroos 2, Brothers 2, Southcity 2,
Group 20 Round Four results: Hay def Tullibigeal-Lake Cargelligo 32-6; Darlington Point-Coleambally def Yenda 40-22; Griffith Waratahs def West Wyalong 14-8; Griffith Black and Whites def Yanco-Wamoon 60-nil.
Group 20 ladder: Leeton 8, Darlington Point-Coleambally 8, Hay 6. Griffith Waratahs 4, Griffith Black and Whites 4, Tullibigeal-Lake Cargelligo 4, West Wyalong 4, Yenda 0, Yanco-Wamoon 0.