Junee comeback to take down Pickers

Thursday, July 5, 2018

JUNEE captain-coach Matt Hands paid the Diesels a supreme compliment after they made their best start to the Group Nine premiership in four years on Saturday.

Backing up from a hollow victory over Brothers a week ago, Junee produced a sterling recovery to beat Young 30-26 at Laurie Daley Oval.

The Diesels got a flying start to lead 4-0 after 11 minutes, but were quickly in trouble as Young pounced for three straight tries to be up 18-4 in the 30thminute.

TRY TIME: Junee’s Hayden Diggins crashes over as the Diesels score a come from behind win over Young at Laurie Daley Oval. Picture: Kieren L Tilly

With the signs ominous, Junee refused to buckle and came storming back to eventually nail the Cherrypickers in a dramatic finish.

In the process the Diesels were awarded a controversial eight-point try when hooker Hayden Diggins was fouled after scoring – and also earned fulsome praise from Hands.

“The boys showed plenty of character today,” Hands said on Saturday.

“A lot could have happened when we were down 18-4.”

Making a belated start to2015after missing Junee’s opening win, Hands was in wonderful touch, but was just shaded by Trent Schubach as the Diesels’ hero.

Schubachturned Saturday’s game on its head with three great plays in the second half.

Trailing 18-12 at the break, Junee levelled up 18-all when a Schumack chip kick in the 44thminute produced a try for sizzling Peter Little, who was also in magic form.

Likewise, Schubachserved up the ball on platter for Little in the 48thminute for the freakish centre to bolt over for his second try.

By the time Hands converted Junee was in frontfor only the second time, but Schubachwas not finished.

Clinging to a 24-22 advantage, the Diesels got the break they needed when Schubachoffloaded brilliantly for Hands to score a sweet try in the 69thminute, leaving Young to make a last gasp fightback.

For Junee, the two wins in two games to open the competition is the best for the team since 2011, further raising expectations of the Diesels having a shot at a drought-breaking Group Nine title.

Not since Laurie Daley played first grade as a 17 year old in 1986 has Junee won the Group Nine title but far from getting carried away,Hands is treading warily.

However, he believes Junee had the firepower to be a force in a most competitive premiership.

First and foremost, Junee has Little to take advantage of the skill of Schubachand Hands, while electric fullback Daniel Foley is another game-breaker.

Unheralded forwards Jackson Metcalfe and Simon Wilson were outstanding coming off the bench as stormtroopers on Saturday, but big Patrick Sagigi and Clifford Morris also had lots to offer.

On a day when the cards fell badly, Young had several top rating players, notably Tui Samoa, Matt Wakefield and skipper Luke Branighan.

In fact, barnstorming lock Wakefield was close to the best on the paddock and Samoa showed he is all quality.

Young lost winger Jayden Wakefield to the sin-bin in the 39thminute after he was penalised for an indiscretion on Hayden Diggins as the Junee hooker scored a try.

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