Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
3 days ago
Wyong Roos v US Tomahawks ? Game one of the Tomahawks tour The Wyong club is, historically, one of the strongest clubs in NSW outside of Sydney. They last won the Country Challenge Cup two seasons ago and have three members of the Country sevens side that went so well in the International Sevens playing for them, including Captain/Coach Troy Prezet, fullback sensation Dean Amos, and powerful second rower Danny Sommerville. The only one of their ?stars? not playing against the Tomahawks was Danny Sommerville, although both Prezet and Amos were named on the bench, and several established firstgraders made way for new imports and younger players in this trial match. The Tomahawks had only arrived in the country three days before this match, and the adjustment from a freezing New England Winter to a sweltering Central Coast Summer could not have been an easy one. The Tomahawks side looked to be a strong one on paper, with many experienced American based players being joined by Jade Porter from the Moree Boomerangs and Steve Watene from the North Sydney Bears. An interesting inclusion in the side was Nate Smith, a 23 yo American football player who has spent the last three seasons playing for the University of Louisville. The game, which was played in front of over 800 paying fans, started with some fierce forward clashes. The Tomahawks forwards were clearly bigger than their Wyong counterparts and they set out to try to dominate in both attack and defence. David Faimanifo and Nate Smith in particular did some powerful and damaging runs, but Ed Woodbridge, Shayne Mains and Steve Watene were also more than holding their own in the forward clashes. Well inside the first quarter of the game the referee called out the two captains for a general warning after Wyong prop Alex Thompson and Tomahawks replacement forward Nate Smith traded blows, and blows were traded on at least three occasions during the game. Despite the determined and enthusiastic play of the Americans, it very quickly became apparent that the Wyong backs were able to cut through the American defence nearly at will, with them rattling up three breakout tries before quarter time to lead by 16-0. All of these tries came against the run of play, with the American forwards doing powerful hitup after powerful hitup, only to see the Wyong team put together brilliant passing and running moves to score from well within their own half. Play continued in this fashion for most of the game, with Wyong leading by 34-0 at halftime and 54-0 at three quarter time, but only being able to post 10 points in the last quarter to finish the game with a 64-0 scoreline. The Wyong playmakers, Prezet and Amos, both came off the bench in the first quarter and Amos in particular had a devastating effect on the American defence. Amos is one of the best attacking players outside of the NRL with a long list of credits to his name including staring for Country in their 2002 tour of the UK, staring for the London Broncos in a trial match against Wests Tigers in 2002 (he scored all of London?s points) and staring for Country in their win over Widnes in the recent International Sevens. Amos also played 11 games for the Newcastle Knights Premier League side last season, in which he scored 6 tries and was players player on 4 occasions. Towards the end of the game the Tomahawks five-eight, Mike Mulvihill, tried every trick he could think of to get the Americans over the line. He tried short kickoffs, big kick and chase moves downfield in an attempt to find the fullback sleeping, chip and chase moves, and anything else he could come up with. The Americans came very close to the line on several occasions, but the Wyong defence always looked comfortable in holding them out. The clearest impression of the game is that the American one on one defence was simply not good enough, with the nimble and fleetfooted Wyong backs being able to beat their man with monotonous regularity. Amos in particular was able to turn the American defence inside out at will, with him regularly stepping through large numbers of flat footed defenders. Despite the one sided nature of the score line, the Americans probably won the clash of the forwards and were definitely becoming more accustomed to the pace of the counter attacks by the end of the game, and were defending much better.