CENTRAL West coach Matt McRobert is not a man who wants to get ahead of himself, but he is also a man who has reason to be optimistic ahead of this year’s NSW Country Championships.
Much of that optimism can be justified given his Blue Bulls smashed a third grade Sydney University side 45-7 at Ashwood Park on Saturday.
While not playing the elite members of the powerhouse Shute Shield club, Uni was still expected to provide the Blue Bulls with some stiff opposition in their final trial match before the Country Championships.
However, that is not what happened as the hosts dominated possession for large periods of the match and conceded only one try through the three 25-minute periods.
“Really for us, today it was about getting ready for Country Week and getting our patterns and processes right throughout the game,” McRobert said.
“The fact we scored so many points throughout the game shows we are doing something right and we are particularly pleased with the execution of the guys. It started off strongly and continued ball the way through even when bringing on numerous changes.
“Sydney Uni, let’s be realistic, that was their third grade side with emerging colts coming through, but it’s a good sign our guys can keep the foot on the throat for the entire game.”
It did not take long for Central West to show their attacking intent, fullback Jack Garrad getting his side into good field position with an impressive kick return.
The hosts went on to surge inside Uni’s 22 and after an attacking line-out feed some three metres out from the line, Dan Ryan helped Hugh Medway push his way over.
Uni put the resulting kick-off out on the full and the Blue Bulls made sure they punished the mistake when Garrad charged onto the ball and through the visitors defence soon after.
That made it 10-0 after nine minutes and while Uni created a half chance to switch momentum in their favour when finding space up the middle of the ruck, Medway took a timely intercept.
The CSU openside flanker was rewarded for that sharp reaction 18 minutes in when crossing for his second try, club-mate Garrad adding the extra to make it 17-0.
With 88 seconds left of the period Uni picked up what was to be their only try of the trial, hooker Tim Reed barging over before Jason Hofmeyer added the extras.
In the second period it was Parkes product Joe Nash who was a standout in both attack and defence.
The winger made three covering tackles to bundle a Uni rival into touch when seemingly set to score, put Phil Tonkin into space in a promising move that ultimately broke down when the final pass went forward, and crossed under the sticks.
His try came after some sustained pressure and patient phasing from the Blue Bulls, and with the resulting conversion it was 24-7.
The Blue Bulls did have to play out the period a man short after a yellow card, yet they remained resolute in defence as they did their best to impress McRobert.
In the final 25 minutes there was no relaxing either as the hosts ran in three more tries, the left corner a particularly profitable area of attack.
A Peter Nau pick and drive following a scrum was the first of those tries, Scott Burgess converting then showing more than just his kicking skills when making a 30 metre break.
Parkes’ Israel Symington was also heavily involved in driving the Blue Bulls deep into Uni’s territory and Chris Plunkett had him to thank when the towering lock threw the pass which had him over in the corner.
With just under two minutes left it was an Orange City combination that sealed the win, Josh Tremain crossing before Duncan Young added the extras. They made it a comprehensive 38-point win - a display which will make it hard for McRobert to decide on his final squad.