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Old foes back

Saturday, 10th May, 2014

United skipper Ben Franklin (left) and Saints skipper Mitch McKenny (right) go head-to-head in the opening round of the Outback Rugby League competition. PICTURE: Ethan James United skipper Ben Franklin (left) and Saints skipper Mitch McKenny (right) go head-to-head in the opening round of the Outback Rugby League competition. PICTURE: Ethan James

By Ethan James

United and Saints start ORL season

A traditional rivalry will be reignited when Saints and United do battle in round one of the Outback Rugby League at Lamb Oval today.

The two Broken Hill teams dominated the 1980s, winning a total of nine premierships in a ten-year period in what was then the Group 12 competition.

Saints won five titles (1980-83 and ‘89), while United claimed four (‘84, ‘85,’87 and ‘88) with the clubs contesting in two grand finals.

United disbanded at the end of 1997 and were granted entry to the ORL at the beginning of this year.

Prop Ben Franklin said it was an honour to skipper the club in their first game in sixteen years.

“For us young blokes we probably do feel a little bit of pressure to uphold the tradition of the club,” he said.

“But the support from old boys and fans has been fantastic and hopefully we can get a big crowd out to the game.”

United President Harry Prescott said players would draw on the club’s history for inspiration but stressed that round one was a new beginning.

“We’ve had a look at some old videos, but for the boys this is a chance to make their own history,” he said.

“I think the heart will be beating a little faster come kick off, not just for the match but for all the hard work at the beginning of the year that has finally come to fruition.”

The club has had two trials, they were beaten comprehensively by Menindee Eagles before an improved showing in their second hit-out.

“We’ll try and stick it to ‘em today and do the best we can,” Franklin said.

“They are the defending premiers though, so we’re realistic in that we have a lot more learning to do.”

Saints President Paul Kemp played in the ‘89 decider between the two clubs, which Saints claimed 18-14.

“The games were always fierce and back then we had a lot of scrimmaging for the ball which made it even more intense,” he recalled.

“They were always physical, entertaining games but we had a lot of respect for one another off the field as well.”

He said that the red-and-white’s admission added an exciting element to the ORL.

“The revival of United shows that the competition is growing which is great to see, this will now be the new era,” he said.

“I think Broken Hill rugby league is the winner here.”

Saints claimed the 2013 premierships and captain Mitch McKenny was confident his side would hit the ground running despite not having played a trial.

“I don’t want to name anyone in particular but we have picked up some AFL converts who are just good athletes with good balls skills and general fitness,” he said.

“We started training at the beginning of January in the heat, so hopefully we have a bit of cardio under our belt.”

With the addition of United, the ORL has shifted to a top four finals system.

Geebungs and Boomerangs will officially open the season at 1.30pm followed by the United/Saints clash at 3.15pm.

Outback Rugby League - Round One
Geebungs v Boomerangs at Lamb Oval - 1.30pm
United v Saints at Lamb Oval - 3.15pm
Eagles v Warriors at Menindee - 1pm
Yabbies - BYE
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