Iluka Cossacks battle on to a victory over Yamba

A courageous Iluka Cossacks upset the highly fancied Yamba Buccaneers 20-12 last Saturday at a very windy Yamba Rugby Ground. The Cossacks only ever dream of beating Yamba but twice in one season is fairy tale stuff. Before the game, the Cossacks had a number of key players ruled out with illness and concussion, yes we do care for players well-fare, and we knew it would be a tough day at the office. There was uneasiness during the warm up as coach Wiseman was still trying to finalise the run on side with some players still putting their boots on as the referee blew the whistle to start the game. Neither team could crack each other’s defence during the first half with the teams looked like going to the break scoreless. With 10 minutes to the break, enter one Lenny Anderson who with his first touch scored under the posts for a 7-0 lead. Unfortunately, Lenny appeared to have broken his arm in the process and his afternoon ended early. The try seemed to inspire the Cossacks and from a set play captain Kris Thomsen wound back the clock and sliced through some sloppy Buccaneer defence and suddenly the Cossacks led 14-0. The news worsened for Iluka when inspiration hooker Isaiah Mutton was forced out of the game succumbing to a shoulder injury at half time. The Cossacks knew they had to dig deep to win the game and needed to play smart rugby in the second half. Unfortunately the understanding of the phrase “smart rugby” has not filtered through the team as they had countless brain explosions in the second half which gave Yamba a sniff of victory they almost accepted with both hands. The second half see-sawed from end to end and then the Cossacks had two lapses of concentration just when they thought they had won the game. Firstly, a quick tap 5 metre from Yamba’s line saw the Buccaneers go the length to score and make Iluka nervous. A converted penalty gave Iluka breathing space with 5 minutes to go, but as the players gathered around back slapping Yamba took a quick kick off and scored to get within winning distance. The final whistle couldn’t come quick enough for Iluka and the many supporters who made the trip breathed a huge sigh of relief when the referee blew time. Happy days 20-12 Cossacks. This game will go down as one of the most courageous efforts by the Cossacks given players unavailable and injuries sustained during the game. Lenny Anderson arm, Isaiah Mutton shoulder, Ben Corfe leg and Jason James hamstring look like being out for some time. When the game was in the balance, man of the match, seasoned campaigner Glenn Ayres stood up and said “follow me boys” as he led the team out of trouble with some stirring surges. The Cossacks depth this season shone through on the day but we are going to need all hands on deck this week as we make the tough road trip up to Kyogle. We will be vulnerable but this team has a belief this year that they can overcome any adversities in their way. A special mention must go to our loyal supporters who have only seen one home game in nine weeks. Yes, the day is coming in three weeks, so mark down Saturday June 18 treat the family to a day out at Iluka Rugby. The players are looking forward to this day and will not disappoint. Tony Wiseman