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Albury down Bulls on the border

Albury Thunder put their Group 9 rivals on notice at Greenfield Park on Saturday proving a class above the South City Bulls in a 34-18 win.

The home side’s defence struggled early against the Bulls, who were led from the front by barnstorming Rhys Weldon. But it was his front-row partner Tim Hurst crossing for the first try to the left of the posts.

Kyle McCarthy made easy work of the conversion attempt and the Bulls led 6-0.

With McCarthy pulling all the strings at acting half Weldon maintained his excellent form for the Bulls, while Brody and Joel Tracey were also happy to charge forward.

They did lose momentum when referee Ben Whitby sin-binned player-coach Cleveland McGhie for using his elbow.

Then Albury speedster Keanau Wighton read a lofted pass well, intercepted the ball, and sprinted 95 metres before wrong-footing Bulls fullback Jumarne Little-Kearnes to score.

Wighton was able to catch his breath before slotting the difficult conversion from the right touchline, levelling the scores at 6-6 after 16 minutes of play.

Albury’s Blake Grounds was smart in and around the ruck, making some telling runs while getting his forwards on the front foot.

Thunder captain Lachy Munro got involved and offered a deft pass to a charging second rower, Isaac Carpenter, who breezed into a gap on the left edge, before finding Sebastian Nelson in suppter. He strolled over for his side’s second try to the left of the sticks.

Wighton hooked the conversion attempt, and the Thunder led 10-6 after 20 minutes.

McGhie returned to the field, and South City lifted as both sides went at each other hammer and tongs. 

The Bulls then enjoyed an attacking period in Albury’s half. Josh Siegwalt was able to hold the ball up long enough to put Clayton Couley over for a try as the big man strolled over untouched.

McCarthy potted the easy conversion attempt from the right of the sticks and South City led 12-10, which remained the score at the break.

Entering the second half, the lights were turned on, and a home crowd started to get into the match as the Thunder came out with some spring in their step.

Albury was next to score, and it was an exhibition of attacking rugby league.

Coming out of their half, Munro got involved again. With his soft hands, the custodian put Couly into space.

The front-rower passed to Carpenter, who passed back to Nelson, and the centre strolled over for his second try.

Wighton converted from the left of the posts and the home side went ahead 16-12 after 49 minutes.

The Bulls shot themselves in the foot by giving away back-to-back penalties, which were compounded by an error in their own 10 metres.

From the ensuing scrum, the Thunder were on the attack. They swung the ball left for Jade Duroux, who brushed off two defenders on his way to a good try.

Wighton added another two points following an impressive conversation from the left touchline, and Albury led 22-12 after 68 minutes.

The floodgates had opened, and the Thunder was storming past the advantage line.

On the back of good momentum, Paul Karaitiana then put in a well-placed kick for Nelson, who was gifted a lovely bounce. The centre was quick to pass back inside for Carpenter, who crossed for a well-earned try.

Wighton made light work of the conversion attempt to the left of the posts and Albury led 28-12 with just over 15 minutes left.

South City wouldn’t go away and they were able to take advantage of some Albury ill-discipline, with McCarthy putting Weldon over for a well-deserved try (28-18).

But Thunder put the game to bed when Munro chased through a kick and scored under the posts.

Wighton chipped over the easy conversion attempt, extending Albury’s lead to 34-18.

In other games, Young bounced back from their surprise Round One draw with South City put on a clinic against the Junee Diesels 24-4 at Laurie Daley Oval.

Tumut was no match for a fit and firing Temora Dragons at Nixon Park. The Dragons were helped by doubles to Joel Kelly and Maleke Morris as they piled on seven tries to win 38-8.

While it was great to see a Wagga Brothers back in first grade, they ran into a slick Wagga Kangaroos at McDonald’s Park, going down 78-6. Bowie Foster and Jacob Mascini crossed for trebles in the big wins.

Click here for all Group 9 draws, results, and ladders. (Photo: Cat Butler Photography)

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