By: Jacqueline Magnay
at Leichhardt Oval
Wests Tigers 24
South Sydney 38
The hill, standing room only, was packed with passion and flags and screaming kids. Souths and Tigers can do that.
There was even some biffo between Willie Manu and South's Andrew Hart, and it would have been no surprise if a scrum had been won against the feed to complete the nostalgia.
Souths were trying to avoid the wooden spoon and, with a seven tries-to-five victory, may just have done that. The Tigers were trying to stay in finals contention but poor handling and other errors may have killed that idea.
Yet the crowd of 16,266, alegiances virtually split down the middle, witnessed something memorable:
the debut of a rising star flanker for Souths.
Joven Clarke could have been headed for this month's Manchester Commonwealth Games but, instead, scored a dream try in the corner on his first grade debut and was otherwise electrifying with the ball.
Clarke won the national under-20 100m sprint title last year but decided his real love lay in tackling men nearly twice his size (he is only 73kg) and out-pacing them on the sidelines (his quickest time for the 100m is 10.49s).
"I was waiting for it all day," the former Canley Vale Kookaburra junior said. "It's every player's dream to make first grade, and to score in my debut is, well just ecstatic. I didn't think I scored it, to be honest."
Joven played all his junior football at Canley Vale Kookas starting prior to his 7th birthday- He also played for Smithfield Public School and later Westfields Sports High School. He had 4 years with Parramatta Jnr Reps, Matthews, S.G.Ball & Jersey Flegg.
Joven was a member of the 2000 Australian Schoolboys team.
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