Follow the leaders: Western skippers urge Rams to refocus ahead of finals

LET'S STEP IT UP: Western captains Nathan Ward (Daley Cup) and Finnley Neilson (Johns Cup) after both Rams sides secured top spot in their respective southern pools. Photo: NICK McGRATH
LET'S STEP IT UP: Western captains Nathan Ward (Daley Cup) and Finnley Neilson (Johns Cup) after both Rams sides secured top spot in their respective southern pools. Photo: NICK McGRATH

Daley Cup skipper Nathan Ward has hosed down expectation surrounding both junior Rams sides ahead of next week's semi-finals saying while it's good to see the pair of Western teams on top of their respective ladders "it all means nothing now".

Western completed undefeated southern pool campaigns in both the under 16s and under 18s country championships at Bathurst on Saturday, knocking off GSR Wests Tigers 32-0 and 24-4 respectively to secure top spot in each group.

Western has long been considered a powerhouse in the junior championships with the under 16s making three straight finals, winning in 2017 and 2018, and two of the last three under 18s deciders.

After storming through the group stages of the 2019 competition as well, without a loss in either age group, that stature continues to grow.

But heading into the semi-finals next week Ward says form means nothing.

"We're working well towards the end but there's plenty to work on," Ward said following a pretty scrappy 20-point win over the Tigers at Jack Arrow Oval.

"We're top of the table which is good but it all means nothing now. We've got to win next week to make that grand final."

In the Daley Cup, Rams star half Rylee Blackhall sat out of the final round match while gun Dubbo CYMS prop Colby Peckham injured his knee early in the contest.

Western still ran in six tries to the Tigers' none in the 24-point win, goal-kicker Tyler Colley endured a nightmare day with the boot missing all of his chances at two points in extremely windy conditions.

Ward said it was a forwards game and Blayney big-bopper Liam Henry was a stand-out, scoring a try in a huge game up front.

"We all went well but as a team it wasn't our best game," Ward said.

Our defence has been winning games and that's what we've worked on.

Western under 16s skipper Finnley Neilson.

Rams' Johns Cup skipper Finnley Neilson said while Saturday's effort against the Greater Southern Region wasn't Western's best, his side's defence stood firm again.

It's been a feature of Western's campaign to date, conceding a touch over nine points per game.​

"Our defence has been winning games and that's what we've worked on," Neilson said, highlighting hooker Fletcher Haycock and five-eighth Kyle Mawhinney as stars in the shut-out win over the Tigers.

"But overall it wasn't a great game ... it was a bit scrappy. We had a lot of drop ball.

"It's been good winning each week and we're getting better every week and, yeah, I think we've got another level we can find."

Gun Western finisher Brandan Hamilton extended his try-scoring numbers in the 2019 Johns Cup with another hat-trick against the Tigers, taking his tally to nine in five games.

Western will take on Greater Northern Tigers in the Johns Cup semi-final while the Rams' Daley Cup boys will take on the Parramatta Eels in their semi, the location is still be to confirmed.

UNDER 16s

  • WESTERN RAMS 32 (Brandan Hamilton 3, Mitch Wilson, Aston Warwick, Finnley Neilson tries; Matt Noakes 3, Cooper Egan goals) def GSR WESTS TIGERS 0

UNDER 18s

  • WESTERN RAMS 24 (Noah Ryan, Liam Henry, Jack Hartwig, Nic Barlow, Nathan Ward, Ash Cosgrove tries) def GSR WESTS TIGERS 4 (M Bantin try).