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Roos too smart for Blues in Group 9 Grand Final replay

James Smart rewound the clock at Tumut on Saturday after guiding the Wagga Kangaroos to a convincing 34-4 victory over the Blues at Twickenham.

In a replay of the 2023 Grand Final, the Gundagai product, who now calls Wagga home, was a man on a mission as he pulled all the right strings in attack.

Leading 4-0 at half-time, the Kangaroos added 30 points in a second-half blitz to win the all-important Round Ten Group 9 fixture.

The first 15 minutes of the match were a feeling-out period as the two packs aimed to assert dominance.

Zac Masters, Shay Thomas, and Lewis Arragon made significant contributions for Tumut, while James Hay and Dakota Ruta played vital roles for the visiting Kangaroos.

The ‘Roos came close to open the scoring in the 16th minute through fullback Jacob Mascini, who returned a 70-metre kick before setting up a perfect pass for Jake O’Regan but unfortunately he fumbled the ball just before scoring.

It took until the 26-minute mark for another try-scoring opportunity to arrive with the ‘Roos attacking the Blues right edge. Ned Cooper found space and passed to Chantz Carey, but a try-saving tackle by Malik Aitken kept the visiting side out.

The pressure finally told on Tumut, and following a penalty against the play, the ‘Roos marched downfield before Ruta crossed for a good try on the right edge.

Smart missed the conversion attempt, but the Kangaroos still had a 4-0 lead which they took into the break.

The first 15 minutes of the second half were much the same as the first, with both sides grappling for field position.

After a penalty, Wagga eventually broke through, with Mascini cutting through the Tumut line to score an entertaining try on the left edge. Smart slotted the difficult conversion attempt, and the visitors led 10-0 after 57 minutes.

The floodgates had opened, and following points, the Kangaroos forced a repeat set via a well-placed kick by Smart. They took advantage of the field position, with Smart crossing on the right edge and converting for a 16-0 lead.

Wagga didn’t take long to cross again, and a sweeping right-side play saw Jake O’Regan score on the right wing.  Smart was again on target, and the Kangaroos led 22-0.

Tumut finally found the try line, with captain/coach Zac Masters storming over on the right edge. Billy Bridgeman missed the conversion attempt, and Tumut trailed 22-4 after 66 minutes.

The Roos responded through a determined run from Dakota Ruta who crashed over for his second try of the match. Smart maintained his excellent form, and Wagga led 28-4 after 70 minutes.

Adding insult to injury, Wagga front-rower James Hay crashed over from close to the sticks. Smart converted on the siren, rounding out a dominant 34-4 victory to the Kangaroos.

In other Round 10 Group 9 fixtures, Gundagai moved into outright third position on the ladder following their 28-16 victory over Albury at Anzac Park.

Temora bounced back to defeat the Junee Diesels 32-14 at Nixon Park, with the Dragons now in outright second.

In the game of the round, the ladder-leading Young Cherrypickers won a ten-try thriller, defeating Southcity 30-24 at Harris Park.

Click here for Group 9’s ladder, draw, and results.

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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.

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