A MAGIC moment from brothers Jai and Kade Barrow helped to quell a Federation of Italia Rugby League Australia resurgence and lead the Western Division under 20s side to a 28-14 victory on Saturday.
Playing their club football for Bathurst Panthers, the Barrows were at home on the turf of Carrington Park.
When the visiting Azzuri under 20s got within four of the lead in the second half the pair responded, linking down the left flank before Kade finished the move by scoring.
Together they had carried the ball almost the entire length of the field.
Jai slotted the sideline conversion and moments later crossed for a try of his own, the brothers having given their Rams a match-winning buffer.
“The Barrow brothers – that was a bit of backyard football there on the left-hand side to seal the game for us, so that was fantastic. It was great from them,” Rams coach Paul McDonald said.
Their efforts relieved the pressure the Rams had put themselves under in the second half, penalties and handling errors having gifted large amounts of possession to their rivals.
“We had a good breeze behind us and we spoke about it at half-time, trying to get some field position, but I think we gave away six or seven penalties in 15 minutes,” McDonald said.
“We spent the whole half tackling and to have only one try put on us is fantastic, but the discipline was a little bit disappointing.
“Still, I’m super happy, we went in at half-time and I thought we were by far the better side even though the score was fairly tight.”
It took 15 minutes for the hosts to open scoring, with hooker Ryan Griffin catching out the FIRLA defence as he darted out of dummy half.
He ran 10 metres to score, with Jai Barrow then adding the extras to make it 6-0.
The Rams continued to take advantage of some poor marker defence to make yards, while prop Ethan McKellar also provided good go forward for the hosts.
However, while the Rams were able to work the ball within reach of FIRLA’s line on a majority of their sets, the Azzuri did enough to prevent that from translating into points.
Fifteen minutes out from the break, following a penalty, the Rams finally earned reward for their dominance as second rower Riley Allen crashed over between the sticks.
Again it gave Barrow an easy conversion attempt and he duly added the extras to make it 12-0.
The Rams put themselves under pressure from the resulting kick-off when allowing the ball to bounce dead in-goal, giving FIRLA the opportunity to attack from a line drop out.
While the visitors could not capitalise on that chance, knocking on to hand the ball back to the Rams, moments later five-eighth Ryan Del Ponto made amends.
He took an intercept and ran away to score, Josh Natoli adding the extras to close the gap to 12-6.
Just over six minutes out from the break FIRLA was in again, Del Ponto winning the race to a grubber to score. The conversion was waved away to leave the Rams ahead by two.
With seven seconds left on the clock, the Rams gave themselves more of a buffer as Tyrell Charters crossed in the right corner following a smart cut-out ball.
From the sideline Barrow kept up his perfect record with the boot to see his side go to the sheds with an 18-10 lead.
FIRLA started the second half the stronger of the two sides, forcing consecutive line drop outs.
But with the wind at the Rams’ backs, both kicks travelled deep into the visitors’ half and when Jacko Gordon did get over the line, the Western defenders held him up in goal.
The Rams continued to put themselves under pressure through penalties, and finally the defence broke with prop Callum Franchi over 17 minutes from time.
But with 11 left the Rams attacked from deep inside their own territory through Kade and Jai Barrow. It ended with Kade crossing in the left corner and Jai nailing the conversion from the sideline to make it 24-14.
Four minutes later Jai Barrow continued his good afternoon with a try, and while missing the conversion, it ensured the Rams would emerge victorious.
With just over three minutes left, FIRLA was reduced to 12 men when Gordon was sent off for headbutting McKellar, the Rams prop sin-binned for his role in the incident.
From there the Rams closed it out to win 28-14.
“Our front rowers of Ethan McKellar and Jarred Seager really put them on the back foot and they played really tough. The two edge players from Lithgow, Mitch Case and Riley Allen, they were outstanding,” McDonald said.
“So our forwards were really dominant which allowed our fringe players to have a bit more freedom in the first half, but we didn’t have any ball in the second half, so it was a bit tough.”
WESTERN RAMS 28 (Tyrell Charters, Ryan Griffin, Riley Allen, Jai Barrow, Kade Barrow tries; Jai Barrow 4 goals) defeated FEDERATION OF ITALIA RUGBY LEAGUE AUSTRALIA14 (Ryan Del Ponto 2, Callum Franchi tries; Josh Natoli goal)