Narrandera Lizards stamped their dominance on the ProTen Community Cup 2021 season by steamrolling Ivanhoe Roosters in the pre-season knockout on Saturday.
The Lizards were the host club for the knockout carnival at the Narrandera Sportsground, retained the 2019 premiership field won over Barellan.
Narrandera drew first blood in the knockout final with prop John Williams scoring under the sticks in the opening five minutes, and D’Andre Williams making the conversion.
A minute before half time break, veteran Richie Bamblett crossed for a try and D’Andrew Williams added the extras to take Narrandera to a 12-0 lead.
With five minutes left to play, Kyle Archibald barged over for Ivanhoe with Brendan Kitson converting for a final score of Narrandera 12 Ivanhoe 6.
The Lizards had kicked off their first game with an 8-0 win over Rankins Springs with tries to Kyle Prior and Wade Williams.
They went on to dominate Hillston 34-0 with tries to Jack Cooper, D’Andre Williams, Travis Simpson, Troy Prior and Shaun Williams, and goals to Williams, Richie Bamblett and Kurt Longford.
In other matches, Goolgowi 14 (Marty Brown, Henry Taylor, Rowan Matthews tries; 1 goal) defeated Barellan 0.
Ivanhoe 12 (Kyle Archibald, Robert Clark tries; Brendon Kitson 2 goals) defeated Googlowi 0.
Rankins Springs 10 (Jamie Parsons, Malik Lyons tries; Ben Maslin goal) drew with Hillston 10 (Hugh Helps, Manase Panase tries; Panase 2 goals).
Ivanhoe 16 (Tomasi Dusilele, Hayden Robinson, Brendon Kitson tries; Kitson 1 goal, Leon Malcolm 1 goal) defeated Barellan 0.
Lizards coach Troy Prior said the team started off slowly in the first match against Rankins Springs.
“Our goal was to score the first try and we ended up coming away 8-0,” Prior said.
“We have a few new blokes coming into the side – once the cobwebs were blown out we proved ourselves.
“This style of football suits Narrandera – flashy, nice and quick, a few points in front and then defend.”
Prior conceded there was some emotion among the team after a year off.
“We are trying to get the discipline and structure back in the (team),” he said.
Lizards secretary Shaun Lyons said the club was going into the 2021 season full of confidence. “There are between 500 and 600 people here today – this concept of having all six teams is great.”
Lizards president Tommy Lyons said the Community Cup was a boon for the western Riverina’s smaller communities.
“We are the biggest town in all the group so it is great to see football back around smaller towns, encouraging the juniors to come on board,” Lyons said.
“And it’s been a good concept so far with three games played in the one day. “Our little halfbacks really played well today – it’s the younger blokes who stood up and had a crack.
“It’s been a good hit out today and we will see how we go once the competition starts. “The club has a three year plan which finishes this year and hopefully the young blokes will step up and take over.”
Troy Prior said there were a few father and son combinations playing during the carnival.
“We have 140 plus juniors registered and they are watching us – some of these younger blokes have never played on this ground before,” he said. “I went to a game last week where there were 50 people – this is a great concept to get the crowd in and everyone should get behind it.
“With the older players we have one more year left in us and hopefully the younger blokes can stick together and make Narrandera a force.”
The Lizards now face a four hour trip for their first game of the season at Ivanhoe against Goolgowi on May 29 in a replay of the 2019 grand final.
Rankins Springs Dragons will take on Barellan Rams while the Ivanhoe Roosters will face off against Hillston Bluebirds.
This article appeared in the Narrandera Argus, 13 May 2021.