2022 JR Henderson Cup GF: Meet the Teams – Randwick

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Randwick’s 4th (or 4rd!) Grade captain Tim Reeves looks ahead to tomorrow’s JR Henderson Cup grand final showdown against Sydney University, and takes us through his side’s extended squad…

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Randwick 4th (4rd) Grade started the 2022 season with a pre-season of varying lengths, with many slogging it out from early in the year while others benefitted from a longer break. After a non-contest in 2021 the Galloping Greens looked to defend their 2020 title, and beginning with a number of games having to be moved away from their intended location the 4’s benefitted from the familiarity of Latham Park. This proved to be a fruitful move with wins against Eastwood, Warringah and Easts. An early loss to grand final opponents Uni was the only blemish to our record at Latham Park, although it provided one of the highlights of the season with coach Chubbs taking the field to steer the boys around in the number 10 jersey. Chubbs has brought his boots to multiple games since but is yet to take the field since, despite warming up ‘incognito’ in trackies in a few games. The verdict is still out on if this is due to the presence of his wife and/or mother.

Another highlight from our stint at Latham came against the Rats with a try to Ben Howard, who pinched a ball from an opposition players grasp after play had seemingly stopped for a Warringah knock on – a great lesson on playing to the whistle. Before 4th Grade were able to grace the clubs ‘preferred’ home ground for the season we took on the Marlins at the home of Randwick Juniors’ Nagle Park. With numbers looking thin at this stage of the season, in stepped veteran Tom Hiddleston to slot a 50m penalty after the bell to secure the win in his first game back in the Myrtle Green.

After some early weather effected rounds 4th Grade looked forward to a trip to Chatswood Oval to face Gordon. Unfortunately, the weather had other ideas but we were still able to take away the 4pts in muddy conditions. Then finally in Round 10, we ran onto Coogee Oval for a strong win against Norths followed by a solid showing at club karaoke night following 1st Grade. Particular mention must go to singing Scotsman Rob Irvine and Irishman Cillian Monahan – go on lads!

After bearing the brunt of the clubs’ injury and European holiday crisis, 4th Grade were taught some valuable lessons with losses away to Western Sydney Two Blues and Easts. This slump however came to a halt after returning to this year’s spiritual home of Latham Park for a strong team win in the wet against Gordon. I am not sure who was more unhappy with the ground changes this season – the opposition teams travelling for an early warm up in South Coogee, or Randwick GM Mark Harrison. The match with Gordon was also a special moment for 4rd Grade with club stalwart Jeremiah Morkos running out for his 100th Grade game for Randwick, or so we thought…..with details later emerging that Jerry had already celebrated his 100th game – in 2016! This brought up the question around Randwick of who, if anyone, is counting?

Despite these clerical issues 4th Grade looked to use this win as a launchpad into the business end of the season, and finished off with a strong win away at Rat Park against Warringah, and home victories at Coogee Oval against West Harbour and Eastwood helping to secure top place on the ladder leading into the final round. In a match that would decide the Minor Premiership, 4’s were beaten by a strong Southern Districts team in a result we would get a chance to flip two weeks later. In the first week of finals 4rd Grade faced Norths, and after a close defeat we benefitted from the hard work done earlier in the season which allowed us to advance to Finals Week Two. This set up a rematch with Souths at Coogee Oval for a place in the GF, and after an early red card 4rd Grade were able to secure a tough victory and book our place in the big dance. The addition of a home grand final emphasised the victory.

Some other notable highlights from this season…. Pushing the scrum machine up ‘Piccone Hill’ each week – “I just want the forwards to get some good feel before the weekend” Coach Joe Piccone. Max Dempsey’s ballsy effort against West Harbour – what a guy. Mouse’s post-match speech vs Parra. Countless barnstorming runs from outside backs Kalan Talefanua, Heath Hall-Muir and Garang Garang to name a few. Tommy Wallace’s facial hair. Beating 3rd Grade in every opposed training drill/team run. Singing McNamaras band with Stutch, Ian and Matty. Eshay themed Karoake night. Rev ups from club legends Stephen Hoiles, David Campese, Simon Poidevin and Eddie Jones. And this Saturday’s Home Grand Final.

Unfortunately, the nature of 4th Grade (and rugby) means that there are a number of players who have contributed to our team immensely this season but won’t to take the field on Saturday. 4th Grade is a grade which tests the strength of a squad and of a club, and without the contributions of these players we would not have had our success this season. Thanks to everyone who has contributed to 4th Grade this year on and off the field.

Up The Wicks!

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All photos: Ric McLallen

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1. PAT HODGETTS: Club legend Hodge will be leading from the front like he has for over 200 games for the Wicks. After benefitting from a long pre-season, ‘Hodgey’ will look to let the opposition know he is out there early on Saturday. After a return from ‘retirement’ this year, the coaches are hoping to see him back in the myrtle green for a few more seasons.

2. BARNABY BICKMORE-HUTT: After a successful #FREEBBH movement, Barnaby will take to Coogee Oval ready to tear into the Students. Hopefully his studious nature, which prevented him from coming to trainings on Tuesday nights, will also come in handy this Saturday. Owner of the best stitch up this season for his trip out to Parramatta this year.

3. WILL SERHON: Serhon’s ability to show himself to be the best trainer is a skill few front rower possess. But after not participating in a full warm up at all this year, I am not sure if he is fooling anyone currently. Willy is set to dominate at scrum time and in the contact zone all game long.

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4. DAVE AKKERSDYK: Packing into the second row – much to his discontent, goldilocks Akkers brings a hard edge and strong communication to the squad. While some may call it shit chat, Dave leads the comp in most giggles from refs and opposition players at scrum time. Listen for Dave’s conversationalist rugby style on Saturday as he reminds the opposition forward pack that “we love scrums” before riding 3rd Grade home from the stands.

5. TOM WEATHERILL: Standing at 7ft, Tom ‘Jungle’ Weatherill will be hard to miss out there on Saturday for the Wicks – hopefully this includes Uni’s hooker. Another club veteran whose experience has helped the 4rd’s stick around til the pointy end of the season, Tom will be looking to add another Premiership to his tally.

6. TIM REEVES (c) (written by Cillian Monahan): Tim Reeves began the 2022 season with three priorities: continue his search for the Papali’i Budgie Smugglers, identify any “weak gutter dogs” and become a specialist loose head prop. Tim has had limited success across all three areas, blaming the burden of captaincy for taking his focus and energy away from the tasks at hand. When asked about his teams chances for Saturday, Tim said “Wicks 4th Grade and a Premiership would make for a tight fit, not unlike the pair of Josh Papali’i budgies I dream of every night”.

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7. NOAH JENKINSON: The jury is still out on whether Jenko owns a pair of shoes besides his boots after arriving to training and games (home and away) barefoot. Nonetheless, once he gets them on Noah has ripped into the opposition in both attack and defence all year. Hopefully this Beatles lookalike will trouble the opposition like his personal hygiene has troubled his teammates this season.

8. HARVEY AUSTIN: In his first year in grade, Harvey spent a long a stint on the sidelines due to injury and has returned at the business end of the season with a vengeance. No doubt he will impose his big frame on the Students on Saturday afternoon in the hope of long celebrations on Saturday night.

9. BELTRAN VERGARA: With Beltran’s inclusion in the 4rd Grade side he brings the teams total international test caps to 29, and is one of few players in the club to play in all grades this season. Look for our hot blooded South American “Chile” to marshal us around the park on Saturday and trouble the oppositions defensive line.

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10. DAVE TEJCEK: At number 10 Dave has led from the front all season. With his bright smile and gorgeous eyes he fits the build of your typical 10, but this great man will get down and dirty for the boys on Saturdays. Dave will control the game for the Wicks on Saturday and take on the line with his classy ball playing. Dave is also looking to win house bragging rights against his roommate this weekend – party at Daves!

11. JACOB TOMASIELLO: JT has been a sight for sore eyes in 4rd Grade in recent weeks after returning to the Wicks mid-season. He has been outstanding on the wing and will look to partner with side kick Jenko before, during and after the match. If you are reading this Sydney Uni – please kick the ball to number 11. Also a smokey in the teams run-it-straight challenge on Sunday.

12. NIC ANDREWS: Andrews brought a smile to faces around the club when he returned to training after enjoying a long pre-season followed by time out with injuries. This versatile playmaker is a valuable asset in 4rds, and after a key goal-kicking session under the watchful eye of coaches Piccone and Hiddleston has taken the tee for the team. Look for the experienced Andrews to dominate in the midfield and keep his foot on the gas.

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13. HAMISH MacDONALD: A victim of the clubs outstanding depth in the outside backs, Hamish has been dominant for the Wicks this season. This quietly spoken heart throb is what Akkers believes he sees when looking in the mirror. We can be sure to see another dominant display from Hamish on Saturday helping the Wicks bother the Coogee Oval scoreboard attendant.

14. GARANG GARANG: (Try) Scoring machine G-Banger has been on fire for the Wicks all year long and will look to add to his impressive tally this weekend. Look for Garang to continue his humiliation of opposition wingers against Uni on both sides of the ball. Teammates have advised that the best thing about winning on Saturday will be partying with the G-Banger, so fingers crossed.

15. CILLIAN MONAHAN: A member of the 2020 Premiership side Mono looks exactly like Ronan O’Gara, and our own Irishman is just as valuable to our team – apart from him having to leave Coogee Oval one Saturday advising “I will be right back I need to charge my headphones”. His leadership and spark on the pitch has been matched with some solid post-match performances, including a memorable outing on karaoke night. Hopefully the sun is out and Mono can catch some well-deserved rays this weekend.

Replacements (to be selected from):

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DREW FERGUSON: Scrum Doctor Drew has dominated at set piece for the Wicks this season and in many past. The club is hoping he takes up refereeing after his lengthy playing career is finished as he seems to be one of the only people who knows what scrum penalties are called for (allegedly).

MOLANAI MAKALIO: Mo has been dominant for the Wicks on both sides of the scrum this season and adds mobility and punch to the pack. Hopefully Mo turns up on time this week and puts in another solid shift for the 4s.

SAM LOLO: Big Sammy Lolo has sent fear into opposition players this season as he has many seasons before. 4rds have benefitted from his experience in the scrum and regular trips over the advantage line.

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LEWIS WILLIAMS: Another new player at the Wicks this season, 4rds have enjoyed Lewy’s Coogee Oval pitch reports on Saturday mornings. Lewy also turned down dinner with Chris Hemsworth one Thursday night in favour of a hit out on the scrum machine at Latham Park (allegedly). Team first.

ROB IRVINE: After joining the Galloping Greens from Scotland this year this fierce red head has been strong around the park all season. Highlights for Robbie this year were his wild game and ensuing night out after Easts away, and his three week holiday in Fiji. Robbie looks forward to the off-season, where he doesn’t have to hear teammates speak with a Scottish accent and can enjoy the Aussie sun.

ETHAN McGUIGGAN: McGuiggan narrowly pips Hamish Macdonald for the squads best looking/scariest player (sorry Will Serhon). He has had a tough year of working night shifts and filling in multiple positions every Saturday for the 4rds, not to mention having to put up with roommate Akkers’ chat at home (see No. 4.). Eth adds punch to the side wherever he plays and will be looking to dominate the opposition and get his hands on the trophy.

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SAM CANTARELLA: Sam has been a solid contributor to 4rd grade this year after returning from a long stint on the sidelines due to injury. Sam reported his motorbike (scooter) missing during the year after leaving it after a long afternoon at Coogee Oval. A week later he was pulled over for driving said stolen scooter. Another highlight for Sam this year was welcoming Scotsman Robbie into Australian Surf Club Culture.

MICHAEL O’CONNOR: Irish maths teacher Michael joined the Wicks this year and made his presence felt every time he’s been on the pitch. While some teammates have struggled to comprehend his sharp Irish drawl he has already nailed the words to MacNamaras Band.

LACHIE ROBERTSON: A big lock, this man of few words does the tough stuff well. Allegedly a member of the ‘military’, Lachie has been a valuable member of the 4rds pack this season, excelling in both set pieces.

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JEREMIAH MORKOS: Jeremiah became the first player ever at Randwick to play 100 games twice. After enjoying a day in his honour details emerged on the Sunday of Jerry’s previous 100 game celebration in 2016. Despite this miscount Jerry has put his body on the line for the 4rds this season and our spiritual leader will continue to contribute late into the hours of Saturday. The coaches have told Jerry the game is still at 10:30 in the hope he arrives to warm-up on time.

PAT PHIBBS: Randwick legend Pat Phibbs’ inclusion in 4th Grade this season has brought a huge amount of experience and confidence to the squad. Phibbsy returned from (another?) retirement this season and will be looking to cross the line after being robbed of multiple tries throughout the year. After being spotted doing extras after training in recent weeks look for Phibbsy to steer the game home for the Wicks on Saturday.

SOSEFO SMITH: Club stalwart Seff is a versatile back who has been winding back the clock all year long for the 4rds. Hopefully he can show his class out wide and help the Wicks retain the Premiership. Now sporting a beautiful moustache, hopefully Seff keeps this for the fans on Saturday.

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LACHIE ANDERSON: After a torrid run of injuries Ando has returned late in the season for the Galloping Greens and made his class felt. A great clubman Ando will look to add a couple of Premierships to the Wicks mantlepiece on Saturday.

MAX DEMPSEY: After being brought up to grade early in the season for being a naughty boy in colts, Max has added youthful exuberance to the 4rds squad. A highlight from Max this year was when he and brother Hugo took on Easts. A lowlight, the outcome of his match against the Pirates.

CAILLAN PORTER: Caillan joined 4rd Grade from colts this season and has been a great addition. A passionate member of the squad, CP brought energy to trainings and game days all year long. Unfortunately for CP he has lost every multi he has tried to get teammates to back this year – too many try-scorers CP.

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SEAN HUDSON: Another enterprising Irishman who joined the club at the start of the year before departing on an unsuccessful stint of ‘farm work’ in Northern Queensland. Seany returned two weeks later to the dismay of teammates, who once again had to look after him on the piss.

ALEX PETERSON: This crafty halfback returned from his time away from the game enjoying his Saturdays without rugby. He immediately made an impact on and off the field with strong performances home and away.

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