The first round of Toowoomba Rugby League fixtures were completed at the weekend with some interesting results.
Defending premiers Pittsworth started their defence with a win over Warwick 24-10, whilst Highfields and Wattles announced their intentions for the season with good wins over Brothers and Souths respectively.
Oakey and Goondiwindi’s woes continued from last season with large losses to Gatton and Valleys.
Key players - Wattles’ Matt Duggan and Jackson Green and Gatton’s Billy Jackwitz and Shannon Hicks - made successful returns to the competition.
ROUND 1 REVIEW
Goondiwindi Boars v Toowoomba Valleys
A new-look Valleys side travelled to Goondiwindi to take on the Boars and comprehensively outclassed their opposition.
A sternum injury prevented TRL’s prize signing of Brett Seymour taking the field, but he will be happy with his troops first outing given they are forging combinations. He may even find it hard to find a place for himself given his team’s performance.
Winger Emmanuel Cerei chalked up 20 points which included two tries and eight goals.
The Boars on the other hand have some homework to do or it’s going to be a long season.
Roosters’ Nathan Simpson and Aaron Sillitoe also scored doubles with youngsters Dylan Chown, Liam Capewell and Balay Viane also impressing.
A-GRADE: Valleys 56 (Emmanuel Cerei 2, Nathan Simpson 2, Aaron Sillitoe 2, Dylan Chown, Liam Capewell, Ryan Stevens, Balay Viane, Marc McGrady tries; Emmanuel Cerei 6 goals) defeated Goondiwindi 0
RESERVE GRADE: Valleys 50 defeated Goondiwindi 0
UNDER 18: Valleys 24 defeated Goondiwindi 10
Wattles Warriors v Southern Suburbs Tigers
Wattles lived up to their preseason potential with a nice win over last year’s Madsen-Rasmussen winners Souths at Platz Oval Clifton on Saturday night.
The Warriors coach was happy with his troops, especially his younger brigade who supported their senior players with distinction, but the story of the night was the return of former Webcke-Price dual-medallist Matt Duggan.
He came through the game confidently and rallied his team when needed.
TRL All Star and Englishmen Jordan Gale also played well and will make a formable combination with Duggan. Each player crossed the line with winger James Johnson scoring a double.
The score did not indicate the game as Souths were very competitive.
Captain/coach Daniel Holmes injured his knee and may be looking at time on the sideline.
Halves combination of Matt Gainey and Luke Nolan tried hard for the Tigers.
A GRADE: Wattles 30 (James Johnson 2, Matt Duggan, Jordan Gale, Brayden Wilson tries; Matt Duggan 5 goals) defeated Souths 4 (Trent Baker try)
RESERVE GRADE: Wattles 28 defeated Souths 12
UNDER 18: Souths 34 defeated Wattles 22
Toowoomba Brothers v Highfields Eagles
In the Toowoomba Sports Club match of the day, Highfields commenced this year’s campaign with a clinical win over a spirited Brothers outfit.
In a sometimes scrappy and fiery affair, man of the match Nick Bambridge went a long way to being the difference with a wonderful individual try just after half time from 50 metres out, beating several players to score near the posts.
Highfields led 10-0 at halftime after tries to Jake George and Jarrod Lee.
Brothers came out of the tunnel after halftime firing and played their best footy when Michael Cochrane finished a good period of play for the Brethren, scoring the first points for Brothers this season. Cochrane’s try got Brothers within four points of the Eagles.
The turning point of the match was when Bambridge scored for Highfields, capitalising on Brothers’ ill-discipline.
Shortly after Bambridge’s heroics, Jake George and Jarrod Lee both bagged their second tries of the night to take the Eagles to an unassailable lead of 34-6 with 10 minutes remaining.
The game did have periods of “stop-start” as well as plenty of niggle, but in the end, Highfields’ discipline and minimal mistakes won them the game.
Despite the loss, Brothers were good in patches and should still be a force this season but time will tell, especially next week when they take on Valleys.
A GRADE: Highfields 34 (Jack George 2, Jarrod Lee 2, Nathan Smith, Nick Bambridge tries; Jarrod Lee 5 goals) defeated Brothers 12 (Michael Cochrane, Jeff Nielsen tries; Brayden Barrett, Brandon Cubby goals)
RESERVE GRADE: Brothers 12 drew Highfields 12
UNDER 18s: Highfields 27 defeated Brothers 26
Gatton Hawks v Oakey Bears
It was always going to be a tough trip down the range for the Oakey Bears as the Hawks were relentless in their execution.
Hawks coach Nicki-John Harch praised veteran hooker Daniel Marsh who tackled everything and dominated the game with everyone following.
Billy Jackwitz and Shannon Hicks did not let their home crowd down with sound performances, in fact Jackwitz continued where he left off from two seasons ago scoring a hat-trick.
Brendan Dolan said that he was disappointed his side did not stick to the what they have been doing at training and was fairly gutted given their preparation has been long and hard.
Oakey did finish the game off with three tries, but it’s back to the drawing board for the Bears.
They have a bye this week to recouple.
A GRADE: Gatton 72 (Billy Jackwitz 3, Tye Gray 2, Josh Ryan 2, Riley Godwin, Callum Woolacott, Dennis Burgoyne, Dom Haak, Francis Han tries; Callum Woolacott 11 goals) defeated Oakey 24 (Josh Stanton, Tristan Hooper, Jeremy Long, Aaron Cherry, Peter Petrie tries; Aaron Cherry 2 goals)
RESERVE GRADE: Gatton 52 defeated Oakey 4
UNDER 18: Gatton 38 defeated Oakey 12
Warwick Cowboys v Pittsworth Danes
The grand final replay lived up to its lead up with a very good contest at Father Ranger Oval.
Pittsworth’s halfback James Dempsey and captain Daniel York led their side by example.
Their execution and combinations were just a little better than their opponents whereas the Cowboys pushed their passes and were found wanting in broken play.
Both teams started well and were locked up at 8-8 after 12 minutes as the game settled into a closely fought contest until two late first half tries to the Danes turned out to be the difference in the game.
Dempsey seemed to be in the right place at the right time and was rewarded with two tries and the Hutchies Man of the Match.
The Cowboys can take a lot out of the game with captain Dylan Galloway inspirational at fullback and halfback Paul Cantwell continuing to keep the opposition guessing.
In the end, Pittsworth’s relentless defence mixed with the two tries before halftime won them the day.
Pittsworth 24 (James Dempsey 2, Braydon Gibbs, Nicholas Schnitzerling tries; Alex Sinclair 4 goals) defeated Warwick 10 (Joe Fuimaono 2 tries; Daniel Watson goal)
RESERVE GRADE: Warwick 44 defeated Pittsworth 18
UNDER 18s: Warwick 46 defeated Pittsworth 16
SECOND DIVISION: Warwick 20 defeated Pittsworth 18
For full results, ladders and upcoming fixtures of the Toowoomba Rugby League, visit the TRL website.