Monaro Colts defeated by Illawarra Dragons in Country Championships final

On Saturday April 6, the Monaro Colts Under 23s side lost the Country Championships grand final for the second year in a row. 

Duck and weave: Zac Patch on the field for Monaro during their semi-final clash against Illawarra in 2018, which the Colts won comfortably. Photo: Zac Lowe.

Duck and weave: Zac Patch on the field for Monaro during their semi-final clash against Illawarra in 2018, which the Colts won comfortably. Photo: Zac Lowe.

The Colts were up against perennial rivals, the Illawarra South Coast Dragons, who they beat in the semi-finals in 2018. 

The difference this year? 

"They didn't make any mistakes, and we seemed to make every possible mistake," Monaro coach Justin Giteau said. 

The final score was 42-12 in favour of Illawarra at Mudgee's Glen Willow Stadium, and the scoreline was a fair reflection of the extremely high standard set by the eventual champions. 

"They didn't make any mistakes. If you don't make any mistakes, you're not going to lose many games," Giteau said.  

"We made a lot of mistakes, and as a result of that, when you make a lot of mistakes, you're going to lose most of your games. 

"The boys tried, I couldn't fault them for their effort, their effort was outstanding." 

Giteau refuted the suggestion that the pressure of playing in a grand final may have contributed to the team's sub-par performance, and said that it was merely an off day for the players. 

"These days happen occasionally, and unfortunately for us it was the last game that we played," he said. 

He did, however, concede that the Colts "probably didn't have an ideal preparation", as they had been forced to consistently change the lineup due to injuries in the early rounds. 

The Monaro side featured eight Queanbeyan players: Isaiah Latu, Tre Williams, Zac Patch, Josh Stuckey, Nukurua Ngere, Lachlan Cooper, Sione Afemui, and Nicolas Halalilo. 

Latu, Williams, Stuckey, and Halalilo were all selected in the NSW Country Under 23s side, and Giteau said it was representative of their consistent form. 

"I think the selectors saw that it was an off day [in the grand final]," Giteau said. 

"For us to get five selected in the Country side probably shows that they had seen previous games and seen the way that some of the boys had played and rewarded them on those efforts rather than penalising them on the one game when they probably didn't play their best." 

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