Iluka Cossacks outgun Buccaneers

The Iluka Cossacks continued on their merry way with a hard fought win against arch rivals, the Yamba Buccaneers at Iluka last Saturday. Both clubs have been crying out for some competitive games of rugby and this game certainly delivered in spades. The last time these two clubs met the Cossacks overpowered a much smaller Yamba outfit but like in any local derby, the Cossacks knew they had to be at their best against their cross river neighbours.
In recent weeks the Cossacks have been sluggish at the start of games and during the week, the team, after lengthy discussions made a commitment to begin with a bang. Iluka kicked off and within minutes had scored a try under the sticks and the locals led 7-0 while the supporters were still finding their seats. This was the start the Cossacks desired but that’s where it all stopped as the Buccaneers took control for the next twenty minutes and peppered the Cossacks line mercilessly. In times gone by the Cossacks would have folded, but in some of the most courageous defence seen in recent times the Cossack players just kept turning up to nullify the Buccaneers attack. Eventually with sheer weight of possession the Buccaneers were rewarded with a try. With a few of the forwards running on empty, coach Wiseman went to his reserve bench and made four urgent changes. With fresh legs on the park, the Cossacks lifted the tempo of the game and were rewarded with three quick tries. At this point Yamba were on the ropes and only the half time whistle saw an end to the onslaught. The half time score may have read 28-5 but the Cossacks knew Yamba would fight back with the wind at their backs in the second half.
If the half time instructions were to chip kick, run the ball and throw flick passes on our own try-line, then the players followed the instructions to a tee and were rewarded with 30 minutes of defensive work on their own line. Combined with three players being sin binned for professional fouls, the Cossacks found the going tough in this period. On two occasions, Yamba looked certain to score and in last ditch defensive heroics by the Cossacks, the ball was spilt over the line much to the delight of the local supporters.
Yamba ran in two late tries, but the horse had bolted and Iluka had run out 28-17 winners. The game was character building for the Cossacks as they played with only forty per cent of the ball, but learnt to dig deep when it mattered and the resolve shown will pay dividends latter on in the year. Best players for the Cossacks were our big Kiwi Nathan Callister while the veteran Glen Ayres bounced back with his best performance of the year. In the backs, Kris Thomsen led by example and troubled Yamba both in attack and defence while Dom Faddy played himself to exhaustion and inspired his team mates when the game was in the balance. The Cossacks have only had a hand full of home games this year and the players certainly appreciate the huge crowd which turned out on a bitterly cold day. Iluka have one home game left in three weeks time and the win against Yamba has secured second spot so the Cossacks will be playing in the major final somewhere. This Sunday starting at 9am the Cossacks will be having a fund raising bowls day at their major sponsor’s venue, the Iluka Bowls Club. Teams of three and $20 will get you a feed and a great day out, so come along and support your local legends.