Rams start the year in strong fashion
Clean sweep over Hawkesbury Valley.
The Epping Hotel Rams 1st Grade have had a positive start in the Irish Magners Cider Clark Cup fixture against Hawkesbury Valley. The Rams ran in two tries to 1 in a stop-start encounter, to finish 15-7 winners. The Rams headed to Valley full of confidence and were presented their jersey by club legend Mike Wagstaff. It was ten years ago that Wagstaff was first grade halfback when the club won first and third grade titles, and a club championship.
On the field, Epping took very little time opening their account with a flashy try to winger Sam Trickett in the corner, to lead 5-0. Hawkesbury Valley hit back with an intercept try, their only try of the game, leading 7-5 midway through the first half. Moments before the break though, The Rams would regain control of the game when Amena Bushell sliced through and offloaded to James Scully to score under the posts. The Rams took a 12-7 lead into the break. The second half was quite frustrating with several opportunities just falling away at the end. It was a half that was very stop start and lots of errors from both teams. In the end it was Eppings rock solid Defence and well disciplined approach to the game that got them over the line. Daniel De Santis kicked a penalty goal to take the Rams out to a 15-7 lead, the same score that the game finished. James Scully was awarded players player for a strong all round performance.
2nd Grade started their year against the same side who eliminated them from the Farrant Cup semi finals in 2015. The Semi final replay well and truely went to the Rams, with a dominant 53-7 victory. The Rams forward pack laid the platform, and the team controlled the game from start to finish. The Rams were very quick around the park, and the backline looked dangerous with every touch. Halves Jordan Mulhearn and Scott Palmer controlled the game and gave their backs plenty of opportunities. In the forwards Tim Mcalpine made an impressive debut in the forwards, while Hugh Stahel and Blake Cabot also lead the charge in the middle. Wingers Nick Miller and Aron Dendle quickly showed Hawkesbury that they would have to quick the ball out with some strong kick returns and dangerous running. Though it was Harry Byrnes who made the inroads, crossing 3 times for a hattrick. Zac Johnson also crossed twice, while Blake Cabot and Dendle also scored tries. Scott Palmer kicked 13 points off the boot, in the process passing 1000 points for Epping Rugby the first player to do so.
3rd Grade recorded a 26-17 victory. With the Rams trailing 17-16 late in the game, Nathan Harvey kicked a crucial penalty to put the away side up 19-17. Beau Levy then crossed in the dying minute to give Epping a 26-17 victory.
4th Grade came up against a very competitive Hawkesbury Valley outfit. The game was an even tussle in the first half, with a few Hawkesbury legends coming out of the woodwork. The rams accumulated two penalty goals to take a 6-0 lead, before Michael Hunt scored against the run of play. The Rams went to the break 13-0 in front. The Rams hammered home their lead early in the second half, creating numbers early for Todd Palmer to go in untouched. Moments later, Todd Palmer sliced through again with a beautiful display of hole running, linking up with AJ Gray on the inside to put the Rams 25-0 in front. Luke McKinnon in his return game for the club, crossed two times in the dying minutes as the Rams blew away Hawkesbury Valley in the end. A late try to Valley put them on the board, as the Rams finished 40-5 winners.
The Rams clean swept Hawkesbury Valley, a strong turn around from 12 months ago when the club left McQuade without a victory.