The Bombala Blue Heelers took to their home ground with great pride on Sunday, keen to take the win from the Merimbula/Pambula Bulldogs, to give themselves the best shot at a grand final spot.
From the kick off the Bombala first grade were tested in defence but proved solid. Not long after receiving possession Wame Belolevu was able to strongly fend off players, as they flocked to him he was able to find the ever reliable Alex Rosten on his outside. As Alex strode away he was forced in-field, but of course, the lightening Tyler Jones would be steaming up the middle in support. Alex was able to get to ball across to Jones who would stride away to score first points of the match. With Blake Robinson’s conversion the score went to 6-0.
This seemed to fire the Bulldogs up. As they put together back to back sets they would set up a play close to the Heelers line. With a lapse in judgement from the Heeler defenders, the Bulldogs would end up with an easy four pointer. The scores were again locked at 6-6. The next 10 minutes saw Merimbula/Pambula looking good as Bombala struggled to contain the attack of the away team. They would eventually score next points taking the score to 12-6. The Bombala lads held their heads high and were able to gain composure through solid running from Jackson Standen and Malcolm Stone. It was again the left side combination of Belolevu and Tyler Jones that would see Jones stride away being held up just metres from the try line.
Alex Rosten had the awareness and presence of mind to take the quick dart from dummy, his quick elusive footsteps couldn't be stopped and he would score in close to the sticks. This allowed Robinson to even things up again 12-12 slotting the two pointer. The wind seemed back in the Bombala lads sails at this point and it was captain coach Joe Bobbin who courageously led from the front, managing to muscle through defenders getting a brilliant offload to the strike weapon outside of him, Boro Navori. Navori would score for the Heelers, with Robinson’s great conversion from out wide, the score was taken to 18-12.
With Merimbula/Pambula getting some back to back sets, Bombala were forced to defend hard taking some petrol out of the tank. With possession finally back in the Heelers hands it was Jackson Standen who put in a great kick that Joe Bobbin would eventually retrieve. Bobbin would land another brilliant offload to Standen who would claim the next four pointer.
At 24-12 the Bulldogs weren't giving in, and just in time before the break they were able to get over the line spreading it wide with an overlap. The score at half time had the Blue Heelers leading by one converted try, 24- 18.
With the game still within the grasp of either team it was always going to be a big second half. The Heelers came out looking pumped. Only minutes in Joe Bobbin would make another barnstorming run to allow Adam Rodwell to come in and bulldozer over the line. The Heelers were starting to seem like a win was on the cards as they would lead 30-18.
Bailey Jones was an absolute standout in fullback. Retrieving high balls with such ease and confidence and then able to carve the defence up as he ran the ball back. Sami Buinimasi provided brutal impact from the bench making much need yardage for the Heelers.
So too did Murray Jackson, inserting some welcome enthusiasm in attack, able to break the line on numerous occasions gaining great metres for his team. Paul Perkins and Blake Robinson were solid up in the middle, especially in defence. Zack Slater also proved extremely strong in defence and also made some great solid runs. As Merimbula would soon be awarded various penalties it would seem momentum would shift and right when it felt like Merimbula would hit back to close in the gap, it was Malcolm Stone whose legs kept pumping allowing him to step multiple defenders and muscle his way through to score his own try out wide for the Heelers.
At 34-18 it would seem the Heelers would have done enough to take the victory. However as a great sweetener minutes from the full time siren, Boro Navori would bust open the defence out wide to stride away. Navori had about 80m to outpace his opponents, with Merimbula/Pambula’s lightening fast Kyle Shepherdson on his tail, it looked like he might be run down but Navori was too classy, able to fend off his opposing winger and stride away to score under the black dot sealing the win for the Heelers with a convincing 40-18 victory.
The win for the Blue Heelers First Grade team means they will head to Cooma with the High Heelers ladies league tag team, where both teams will be playing for a chance to go straight to the grand final.
The High Heelers will take on the Moruya Sharkettes and the Blue Heelers will take on the undefeated Cooma Stallions.
A massive thank you from the club to all committee members, players and volunteers who have helped out through the year to make our home games a success. Your tireless dedication, support and hard work is very much appreciated.
Thank you to all the sponsors that have made this year possible for all the Heeler sides, especially the Bombala RSL Club. The Bombala & District RLFC would like to especially acknowledge the dedication and great achievement from all their players, having two sides make the major semi playing for a spot in the grand final is a massive achievement for our little club and town.
The club and players encourage as many supporters as possible to please make the trip up to Cooma on Sunday, August 6 to cheer on the Bombala teams and help get them over the line.
Next Sunday’s games in Cooma are:
10am Ladies League Tag
11.15am: Under 18s
12.45pm: Reserve Grade
2.30pm: First Grade