THE Steamers have given a right royal send-off to English second rower Dave Cooper-Dunn with a win against Wagga City.
The giant second rower played his last game in the blue and gold at Murrayfield on Saturday in a pack that dominated the ruck, line-out and scrum in the 38-8, six tries to one victory.
The Steamers were able to create turnovers against the feed and at the line-out, while their ball control allowed them to dictate long periods of play.
But for some simple handling errors, the scoreline could have blown out to last season’s regular hidings, while Blake Le Cornu’s unusually inaccurate boot also let the Boiled Lollies off the hook.
The Steamers led 8-3 at the break.
But a penalty just 10 metres out saw the home side call on inspirational front rower James Kora, the 120-kilogram prop too much for City’s defence.
New season English import James Wilmore showed his class with a kick return from halfway that left defenders in his wake and added to the try tally.
City’s only consolation came with a try late in the second term and only after a series of Steamer errors.
Steamers coach Mick Raines paid tribute to Cooper-Dunn who took the players’ player award.
“He has been a great servant of the club in the past two years and he is a huge loss,” Raines said.
“But at the same time we have to look to the future and on Saturday we had Ash Le Fevre, Tom Rowan and Liam Krautz, who all played in last year’s grand final — Krautz winning man of the match, on the sidelines.
“And by the end of the game we had four of the starting pack on the bench.
“We certainly don’t lack depth in the forwards.”
Ryan Schischka was given the man of the match after another non-stop performance.
“He really is the meat and bones of the forward pack,” Raines said.
“Ryan is very good technically and in addition to his work rate is able to break other sides down.
“Halfback Lucas Boyes was also very good for us.
“He’s got pace to burn and that showed in the second half when the game opened up for him.”
Raines defended a series of handling errors in the backline that derailed several promising breaks.
“The backline has had a number of changes not just from last year but from the start of the season,” he said.
He’s confident precision play at speed will improve over time.