Greater Northern Tigers under-23s claim maiden victory in CRL Country Championships

THE Greater Northern Tigers’ first ever win came in the third season of the CRL Country Championships’ under-23 concept.

The news, however, was not so good for the Tigers’ three other sides, who also played against the Bulldogs at Coffs Harbour on Saturday.

The women’s outfit, playing in the debut tackle round of the Country Championships, was beaten 22-0.

The under-16 Tigers’ undefeated run in the Andrew Johns Cup ended at three games after they lost 26-12, while the under-18s are out of finals contention in the Laurie Daley Cup after going down 34-12.

Greater Northern under-23 coach Peter Stevens said while his team was “a little bit game shy” and “rusty”, it was exciting to get a maiden Country Championships win.

“It was good to be part of it,” he added.

Stevens said the Bulldogs were primed to be “put away” but the Tigers made too many handling errors in the second half.

“So it wasn’t good enough at that level, but probably a bit of a fatigue factor [set in],” he explained.

Despite the mistakes, Stevens said Greater Northern “definitely looked the better side in the second half, but we just couldn't put them away”.

He praised the performance of his pack including Boggabri debutant Matt Gillham, who played a full game at hooker, and Gunnedah forwards Lincon Smith and Hayden Smith, who debuted for the Tigers off the bench.

He said Gillham was “very good”.

“I know he was surprised to be probably picked in it [the squad] but he didn’t look out of place,” the mentor added.

Fullback Will Nieuwenhuise, of Singleton, was named players’ player.

“We didn’t have a bad player,” Stevens said.

The men’s side plays defending champions Northern Rivers in Armidale on Saturday.

The other Tiger sides play at the same venue, the University of New England, on the same day.

Andrew Johns Cup

North Coast Bulldogs 26 (M Donovan 3, T Bull tries; O Tyerman 5 goals) def Greater Northern Tigers 12 (M Simon 2 tries; P Dixon 2 goals)

Laurie Daley Cup

North Coast Bulldogs 34 (E Clark, M Evans, J Wood, E Duncombe, U Roberts, B Morgan tries; K Parkinson 5 goals) def Greater Northern Tigers 12 (J Butler, S Dengate tries; S Dengate 2 goals)

Women’s

North Coast Bulldogs 22 (S Long, N Binge, T Mcrae, G Smith, E Johnston tries; L Ward 1 goal) def Greater Northern Tigers 0

Under-23s

Greater Northern Tigers 26 (C French, D Nicholls, J Bradley, I Austin, M Gillam tries; W Nieuwenhuise 3 goals) def North Coast Bulldogs 20 (O Blair 2, J Lauder, D Lavender tries; O Blair 2 goals)