Our thanks to Andrew Ferguson for his 2014 piece recounting the story of Edward Larkin, who among ot...
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On a very hot and humid Saturday 5th February, the Western Sydney Outlaws took on the Eastern Sydney Stingrays in an exhibition match, the third match between the two teams since the sports inception late last year. The game was played in front of a decent-sized crowd at the 10th Annual Rugby League International Nines tournament held at New Era Stadium, Cabramatta and was played over three eight minute periods prior to the Cup final between Balmain-Ryde Eastwood and Australian Fiji.
Both teams consisted primarily of players who possessed cerebral palsy, brain injuries and muscular-related disabilities but also included a few able-bodied players to assist them around the field.
The match itself was fast-paced and demonstrated good attacking raids which helped showcase the sport of Physical Disability Rugby League to the audience. The crowd were very appreciative of the efforts made by all on the day and the match proved a success.
The Outlaws went on to win the match 28-14 in a good display.
The Stingrays took an early lead two minutes into the first period when Marik Gleizer put in a deft grubber kick for himself ten-metres out from the line and scored. The ball rolled straight between defender George Tonna's legs before Gleizer touched-down. Gleizer went on to convert his own try from in front.
The Outlaws levelled the score three minutes later when David Grech saw space on the right-hand side before offloading it to Kyle Schaberg who went straight through the gap to score. Schaberg converted his own try from the right-hand side of the posts.
The Outlaws were on the scoresheet again soon after when John-Paul Tonna went over the stripe thanks to a 35-metre break from older brother George which gave them great field position. Grech successfully converted to give the Outlaws a 12-6 lead at the conclusion of the first period.
On the resumption of play the Stingrays thought they had scored when Gleizer threw a dummy-pass five-metres out before going over himself. George Tonna's try-line tackle on Gleizer did enough to deter him from scoring when the ball was seen to have bounced and he was deemed to have knocked-on.
The Stingrays' missed opportunity would hurt even more when the Outlaws were the first to score three-minutes into the second third thanks to a superb 50-metre dash down the left-hand side by Eddie Sharp before he was taken down ten-metres shy of the try-line. Unfortunately for the Stingrays, quick thinking from the Outlaws two plays later saw the Stingrays short back on the left-hand side. The ball was quickly shifted there to the man who started the attack, Sharp, as he placed the ball over the line in the corner to score. Grech was unsuccessful with his second attempt at goal and the score remained 16-6 in the Outlaws favour.
The Stingrays soon got on the score board when Gleizer scored his second try of the match after showing a nice turn of speed to beat three players from 20-metres out. Anthony Moufarrege was unsuccessful at conversion as the Outlaws would only lead by six-points.
With less than a minute to go before the end of the second period, George Tonna made a weaving run towards the line before offloading to his younger brother who went over to score to the right of the posts. Grech missed his attempt at goal and the Outlaws led 20-10.
In the first minute into the final third, George Tonna made a 35-metre break providing the impetus for another attacking raid by the Outlaws. They increased their lead from the next play-the-ball when Sharp scored his second try by barging his way over the line. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful by Grech as the Outlaws led 24-10.
The Stingrays were the next to score after a number of long passes were thrown and a gap opened up on the right-hand side of the field. Gleizer then laid the ball off for Moufarrege to score. Moufarrege was unsuccessful with his second attempt at conversion as the Outlaws led 24-14.
With less than five-minutes on the clock, the Outlaws would score again thanks to some good lead-up play which saw Ch