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ORL trial games

Wednesday, 22nd May, 2019

Players and officials after last Saturday’s successful ORL trial games in Wilcannia. PICTURE: Supplied Players and officials after last Saturday’s successful ORL trial games in Wilcannia. PICTURE: Supplied

More players on the field and more fun was the sentiment after last Saturday’s Outback Rugby League pair of trials between Menindee Yabbies and Wilcannia Wimpaatja at Burke Oval, Wilcannia.

After Wimpaatja teamed up with the Menindee Wedge-Tailed Eagles during week one of the ORL 7-a-side tournament last Sunday, strong numbers for both clubs on Saturday meant several shortened games turned into a full-sized contest.

Players in the outback are fans of the traditional format and after consultation it was agreed to play a trial match instead of 7-a-side for week two of the pre-season.

Yabbies and Wimpaatja played 11-a-side during the first of four periods before moving into 13-a-side for the final three periods of Saturday’s games as Wimpaatja’s numbers increased on home soil.

Scores were kept across one 40-minute match (2x20-minute periods) and one 35-minute match (1x20-minute and 1x15-minute period).

In match (A) played over the first two periods, Yabbies skipped away to a 42-4 win with Curtis Smith bagging 20 points from two tries and six goals while star recruit Aleki Falepaini also bagged a double for the green-and-yellows.

However, in an encouraging sign for the new Wimpaatja outfit, Wilcannia’s Wayne Jones posted a brace as Yabbies won a much-closer match (B) 26-14.

Yabbies prop Siaki Ofa was tough to stop, bullocking over for a pair of four-pointers himself in the 12-point success.

The most pleasing aspect was players from both sides enjoying the match and each other’s company, posing for a group photo post-match.

Saturday’s fixture was about far more than the scoreboard - it was a sign of hope for 2019 after a difficult pre-season.

All three ORL clubs that have expressed interest to compete (Menindee Yabbies, Wilcannia Wimpaatja and Menindee Wedge-Tailed Eagles) have now been emailed proposals for the 2019 season.

The ORL will hold a special meeting via phone-link on Thursday to discuss the proposals.

Having all three teams viable with adequate players available to field sides regularly will be the key determinant as to whether a 2019 Musicians’ Club Outback Rugby League Senior Men’s Premiership can be staged.

However, all possible formats will be considered with maximum possible player participation in 2019 a key priority for the Outback Rugby League, Murdi Paaki Regional Rugby League Council and Country Rugby League.

The professionalism of the Yabbies will mean they will be tough to beat if a competition is formed as hoped, but Wimpaatja’s strong second-game showing proved they would relish the challenge.

Next Sunday (May 26) a Murdi Paaki Regional Rugby League Junior Gala Day at Burke & Wills Park, Menindee will be held in conjunction with the “Dancing on the Darling” Festival.

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