IT was certainly a ‘red letter day’ for the mighty red and white Criterion Hotel Singleton Greyhounds last Sunday.
Despite carrying the burden of expectation with teams engaged in all three grand-final matches and fresh in their minds was the Scone Thoroughbreds horror 0 – 3 result in 2011 from an identical situation, the Singleton Greyhounds delivered to its fan’s three wonderful premierships.
First Grade made it four premierships in the past six years and the club’s 10th premiership since 1947.
History may well look back on this as a dynasty of sorts and with a relatively youthful look about them it may well be just the start of a great era.
The crowd, bathed in a sea of red and white, arrived early at Resco Park in a jovial mood and certainly found its voice with each Singleton try and as each premiership started rolling in.
The main fare though as always was the First Grade clash with Singleton starting warm favourites against the unpredictable Rams who brought about the unexpected demise of the Denman Devils last week.
First Grade – sponsored by Bradken Engineering
The Ram’s got the dream start they desperately wished for after just four minutes when a stray pass was intercepted by the Muswellbrook prop forward Liam Dunn and despite some desperate efforts by Jarred Castledine, Dunn managed to pop the ball to team mate Zac Collett to score. The try was converted for a 6 – nil lead.
Singleton had their moments during the next period of play and had two certain tries called back for forward passes. It wasn’t until the 25th minute that Singleton managed to post points through five-eighth Chad Solman who regathered his own grubber in the Ram’s in-goal to score a great individual try. In windy conditions the conversion was waved away for Muswellbrook to maintain the lead 6 – 4.
The arm wrestle continued as Singleton’s big pack of forwards started to outmuscle Muswellbrook and gain the ascendency in the ruck. Chris Martin, Jason Brand and company were bending the line in attack and monstering the Ram’s in defence. In the 36th minute winger Jarred Castledine pounced on a loose ball to leave his opponents high and dry to post Singleton’s second try of the day. With Solman’s conversion the Greyhounds led 10 – 6 and were never headed from that moment on. On the stroke of half time it was perhaps the game defining moment when the Greyhounds right centre Nathan McLoughlin found himself with the ball 10 metres out and with plenty of work to do, beat one, two, possibly three defenders to crash over and score a great try out wide. The conversion from a difficult angle was again wide but Singleton carried the momentum into the break to lead 14 – 6.
In the second half, the Ram’s tried desperately to stay in the game and were aided by an 11 – 3 penalty count. However you got the feeling it was only going to be a matter of time before Singleton fully asserted its authority. It wasn’t until the 68th minute that Singleton probably landed the first of its killer blows. A nice piece involving Chad Solman and Josh Desmond who popped the ball back to Solman, the five-eighth then drew the defence sending a ball onto skipper Luke Gardner for a great team try. Solman converted from the touchline much to the delight of the soirée of Singleton ‘Old Boys’ gathered on the hill that lent it’s voice to the local lads all day. The margin was now 20 – 6 in favour of Singleton and the fat lady was finding her voice. One of Singleton’s best, prop forward Jason Brand, got into the try scoring mode with a barnstorming try near the posts to send the home side out to an unassailable 26 – 6 lead.
Muswellbrook threw everything they had left at Singleton in the final five minutes but there can be little doubt that the resolute Greyhounds defence that held steadfast all day, won the day. By full-time the Greyhounds defence had conceded just two tries in 160 minutes of football during the past two grand-finals and that above anything else will win you premierships, every time. This was a fact not lost on Coach Mark Newman who magnificently orchestrated the finals campaign for the Dog’s.
As is often the case in a champion team it was difficult to single players out, however the performances of prop’s Jason Brand and Chris Martin were enormous, workhorse Russell Richards and the Solman brothers Chad and Zac worthy of praise. Man of the match went to skipper Luke Gardner who terrorised the Ram’s right edge all day much the same as his father Gary did so successfully for many years.
Singleton 26 (tries; C.Solman, J.Castledine, N.McLoughlin, L.Gardner and J.Brand, Goals; C.Solman (3) defeated Muswellbrook 6 (Z.Collett try Goal; Marcus Bower)
Reserve Grade – sponsored by Cor Cooling
In the most thrilling game of the day Singleton overcome a massive first half deficit to storm home and record a remarkable 34 – 24 win over Denman after trailing 24 – 4 at one stage in the first half.
Singleton established an early 4 – nil lead when winger Lewyn Rapana scored in the right hand corner after 10 minutes. From that moment on thought it was all Denman who showed youthful exuberance and deft support play to race in three unanswered tries that were all converted to race to a 18 – 4 lead after 25 minutes. Things went pear shaped soon after when a Singleton attacking raid went astray and the Devils intercepted a stray pass to race 95 metres and score yet another converted try and at 24 – 4 the Dog’s had it all to do.
Only the bravest of supporters, hand on heart at that stage believed a Singleton victory was possible. Significantly it was Jake Hardy that redeemed himself by producing a great solo try just before half time to put the Red Dog’s within reach at 24 – 10.
It was imperative that Singleton be the first team to score after the break and they did just that inside two minutes when Rapana grabbed his second of the afternoon. The Greyhounds were beginning to dominate the ruck with strong defence and the momentum gathered saw Jake Smith throw a great ball onto the chest of the centre three-quarter Daniel Robins who sliced his way through to score. In difficult conditions into the breeze the conversion was astray but Singleton had more than a sniff at 24 – 18. The classy Jacob Rinkin crashed his way over soon after to level the scores at 24 – 24 following Zac Howlett’s conversion.
Singleton by this stage was full of running and Denman simply had no answer to the powerful charges led by John Boyle. Hardy picked up a loose Devil’s ball 60 metres out and linked with crowd favourite Jimmy Bonnar who raced down the left touch line, saluting the crowd on the way and improved the position to score rather unconventionally under the posts to give Singleton the lead for the first time in over an hour of play. A fitting finish was realised when skipper Ben Deaves carried at least three defenders over to score (probably eight by the time last drinks were called on Sunday night) to put his team into a commanding 34 – 24 lead and one that was able to carry until the full-time siren. Best for Singleton were John Boyle, Nick Cox, Lewyn Rapana and Taison Morgan. John ‘Busta’ Boyle won the official man of the match with a brutal display up front. Well done to Captain-Coach Ben Deaves who will step down after a very successful reign in the position, a class act if ever there was one.
Singleton 34 (tries; Lewyn Rapana (2), Jake Hardy, Daniel Robins, Jacob Rinkin, Jimmy Bonnar and Ben Deaves Goals; Zac Howlett (2), Jake Hardy defeated Denman 24 (tries; Tyler Wolfgang (2), Brodie Smith and Daniel Thompson goals; Shawn Kidd (4).
Under 18’s – sponsored by Singleton Tyre and Battery Centre
Earlier in the day, Singleton was pitted against arch rivals Scone in the decider. A tight game was expected and a gripping contest duly unfolded. The pup’s proved their recent dominance over the Thoroughbreds could be taken to the next level to emerge narrow but decisive victors by 10 points to nil.
Both sides gave as good as they got in the opening physical exchanges as these two teams went at it. Centre Jayden Stewart who wreaked havoc on the right edge for Singleton opened the scoring with a try in the 14th minute off a Mitchell Carroll offload. Scone certainly had their chances in the opening half and perhaps with a better kicking game might have created more with their opportunities. However Singleton’s defence was more than up to the task and they repelled the visitors with a rock solid display. Singleton too were guilty of not making the most of their chances to post more points as they headed into the break with a slender 4 – nil lead.
In the second half the young pup’s enjoyed good field position on the back of a few penalties which resulted in hooker Brodie Rinkin scoring under the post’s from close range just five minutes into the half. Shortly afterwards the game was held up for approximately 30 minutes by a serious injury to a Scone player. Singleton through their big men up front Josh King and Jake Willis started making inroads and on the back of that Eligh Miller and in particular Damien James were creating opportunities for the rest of the team.
Although no more points were added in the final twenty minutes of play following the injury, Singleton was camped deep in Scone territory for the remainder of the game. The pups were able to close down the game in good style to record a strong 10 – nil win over the Scone Thoroughbreds.
Best for Singleton was ‘Man of the Match’ Brodie Rinkin as well as Josh King, Jayden Stewart and Damien James. Coaches Paul Neely and Matt Kenny were thrilled by the result of this tight knit group who are ensuring the next wave of Junior Greyhounds are ready, willing and able.
Singleton 10 (Tries; Jayden Stewart and Brodie Rinkin Goal; Jordan Watson defeated Scone 0.
On an otherwise perfect weekend the club’s Third Grade side lost their elimination semi-final against Gateshead on Saturday. It was the first time Singleton had entered a team in the Newcastle senior competition. With many players coming in from the relative football wilderness it was a tremendous effort from these guys under the guidance of club stalwart Pat Ling. The team developed a cult following throughout the season and it is hoped that the great work can continue again next year.
The club’s annual presentation night will take place on Saturday October 6 at Club Singleton. Tickets for what promises to be a great celebratory night are available by contacting Katrina Solman on 0418 243 888 or Bronwyn Dunstan on 0428 764 070. Finally the c lub would like to thank all of it’s sponsors and supporters who can feel very much part of these collective victories. Without that level of support, the players and the club could not hope achieve the success it has not only on Sunday but in recent times. With a robust junior league system and quality coaching in place it’s upwards and onwards for 2013 and beyond.