ALBURY Thunder reacted savagely to its last-round defeat by crushing Tumbarumba 66-0 in a spiteful Group 9 rugby league clash at Greenfield Park on Saturday.
In a typically bruising clash between the long-time rivals, the ladder leader stamped its authority in the opening minutes and showed its loss to Southcity was only a minor hiccup in its quest for a hat-trick of premierships.
Thunder forward Andrew Cowhan and Tumbarumba’s Semi Cakaunitavuki were sent off after a wild brawl erupted in the second-half while Green Aaron Sweeney and Albury’s Ben Jeffery were sin-binned.
A fight broke out in the crowd minutes later when a Tumbarumba supporter swung a punch at an Albury spectator before order was quickly restored by ground managers.
Thunder coach Josh Cale was pleased his players stayed focused.
“Overall I thought we kept our focus pretty well,” Cale said.
“There was a bit of niggle and it boiled over for a while but I thought the scoreboard told the story.
“We tried to play more direct than the Southcity game and I think we achieved that.
“It was a pretty good effort.”
Albury took only four minutes to score when big Joe Silafu crossed the line, and the scoreboard got uglier by the minute after the home team raced to a 26-0 lead at half-time.
Cameron Breust, Chris Seaton and Daniel Jacobs piled on three tries in eight minutes after play resumed, with only the brawl halting the Thunder’s momentum and preventing an even bigger win.
Lou Goodwin and Jake Grace led the avalanche, while Mitch Davis, Mitch Seaton and Jeffery also turned in strong performances.
A huge plus for the home team was the performance of Hayden Sweeney.
After playing well in reserve grade earlier in the day, the university student came off the bench and scored two tries to boost his chances of senior selection in the second half of the season.
Cale said he was confident his team’s fitness would prevail.
“The boys worked hard over the break and it was good to run out the match like we did,” he said.
“We tried to starve them off the ball as much as we could.
“We took a lot of positives out of it.”
Matt Byatt tried hard for the Greens while Cakaunitavuki also battled manfully against the odds.
Albury centre Mitch Seaton hurt his knee early but played out the match and looks set to face Young at Young on Sunday.