Devils bounce back with gritty win in the wet

CHARGING: Western's Jake Betts carts the ball up during Saturday's clash with Western Suburbs. Photo: ADAM McLEAN
CHARGING: Western's Jake Betts carts the ball up during Saturday's clash with Western Suburbs. Photo: ADAM McLEAN

The Western Rams remain winless in the President's Cup but they stood up to Wests Illawarra on the weekend.

The Wollongong club had a 12-nil win at their home ground on Saturday, but the coach said his side had to work hard to keep the Western side out.

Wollongong opened the scoring as heavy rain set in in just the 14th minute of play at Parrish Park.

The hosts extended the lead to 10 when Michael Appleby collected an easy try courtesy of a perfectly placed grubber from Rodrigues two minutes before halftime.

The Rams made most of the running in the second half, and looked most dangerous when five-eighth Harry Seijka had the ball in his hands.

It put the visitors within reach of points on several occasions but they couldn't break their duck, the Devils dogged defence forcing them to make the long drive back west without notching a point.

Mitch Porter's 76th minute penalty goal were the only points in the second stanza.

Western coach Cameron Greenhalgh said his side threw plenty at the Devils, but had trouble crossing the line.

"The weather wasn't the best, the conditions were pretty slippery," he said.

Despite that the Rams' defence held: the score was 10-nil at half time.

"We kept them scoreless in the second half, we just couldn't post any points ourselves," Greenhalgh said.

"A couple of decisions went against us, and that didn't help."

With players scattered from Lithgow across the western region, the Forbes-based coach is trying to get the side together at least once a week for a training session.

By the time the players travel to a central location, they'll have some pretty cold nights on the training paddock.

But Greenhalgh says they're glad to be out there: the President's Cup a unique, state-wide competition introduced due to COVID-19 cancelling a lot of club rugby league.

"It's good," he said. "And the boys that are playing are putting in the effort."

Next week, the Rams travel to Dubbo to meet CYMS in a more local clash.

"It won't be easy," Greenhalgh acknowledged.

Wests Illawarra coach Pete McLeod said his side had to be tough to hold the Rams out on Saturday.

"The conditions were tough and we played a big physical footy team," McLeod said.

"There was a period there where we didn't finish our sets very well and that put us under a bit of pressure but we defended well for long periods.

"They threw a lot at us so to keep them to nil was a big effort.

"We've got the bye now and it really couldn't come at a better time for us, and then we play Dubbo [Cyms] here at home which will be another good challenge."

Forbes players to line up for Western Rams on Saturday were Mitchell Andrews, Mitch Burke and Bailey Hartwig.

This story Rams remain winless after Devils dig deep to hold them off first appeared on Forbes Advocate.