Central North Rugby: Gunnedah thumps Tamworth

On the burst: David James looks for support as this Tamworth defender clings to him during the Red Devils' big win on Saturday. Photo: Sarah Hickey Photography.
On the burst: David James looks for support as this Tamworth defender clings to him during the Red Devils' big win on Saturday. Photo: Sarah Hickey Photography.

Aisea Raitala pursed five tries as Gunnedah celebrated Ladies Day with a champagne performance at Gunnedah on Saturday.

The Red Devils turned on the razzle dazzle, thrashing the Magpies 50-5 to leapfrog Moree into third.

Raitala was a destructive force at outside centre and a standout performer in what was the Red Devils’ most impressive performance so far.

“It was unreal,” Red Devils coach Jason Waerea said.

“The boys played very well. There was minimal mistakes and it was only at the death that there were any decent line breaks.”

It wasn’t until around the 78th minute that the Magpies were able to break the Red Devils’ “brick wall” defence.

“The defence was just great,” Waerea said.

They carried on from where they left off against Quirindi the week before. 

Fortunately it wasn’t the same story with their attack.

“When we had the ball we did much better things with it,” Waerea said.

“We dropped less ball and didn’t get isolated, which we were doing against Quirindi.”

He had reiterated to them before the game about keeping it simple, and was initially a bit worried that they had taken him to the letter, but the points quickly started to flow and by half-time they were up 31-nil. Waerea joked that he should have stayed in the stands at the break. He had “nothing to add”.

“They were very clean. The penalty count was a lot lower,” he said.

“And they had a lot of ball because of it.”

He said what made Raitala so dangerous was his straight running. A couple of his tries he just hit the gap perfectly and went over almost untouched.

The set pieces were also a strong feature with second rowers Sam Casey and Matthew Neilson dominating the lineout in attack and defence.

Loose forwards Alistair Buchanan, Sanimo Navatu and Joe Duffy were also very solid and had most of the run of play at the rucks.

Navatu picked up the one point behind Raitala and skipper Jamie Mitchell.

Mitchell had another great game at five-eighth.

“He really distributed well and again was defensively very strong,” Waerea said.

Waerea was also impressed with David James, coming on at inside centre for Zac Newcombe, who suffered suspected ligament damage to his shoulder, and Brendon Willoughby at half back.