The opening round of the Brisbane XXXX Second Division in Open 1 North saw Pine Rivers Bears – fresh off their Pine Cup final against Dayboro – go head to head with the Ricky Bird-coached Brisbane Natives.
From the opening exchanges, both teams put on some massive hits with neither side taking a backward step. From the outset this was going to be a battle up the middle with both packs keen to outmuscle each other.
Natives piled on the pressure in attack and went close to scoring early, but the Pine Rivers defence led brilliantly by second-rower Daniel Culgan, held out the Natives right on their tryline.
Natives let some good opportunities to score go by the wayside and turned over possession to the Bears who capitalised on the Natives’ mistake which resulted in Pine Rivers Purpalala Pearce scooting 20m upfield to put the pressure right back on the Natives.
A quick play the ball and slick passing resulted in bullocking Bears prop Kevin Sherriff scoring. Halfback Jesse Anderson made no mistake with the conversion to take a 6-0 lead.
Some quick fire passes by the Natives backs sent winger Jordan Malone into score in the 23rd minute. The try was superbly converted by Anthony Gadd from the sideline making it 6-6. Pine Rivers hit straight back in the 31st minute again with tireless worker Culgan making a break with some nice footwork and sending in centre Troy Rowbotham to make it 10-6.
The try was converted by Jesse Anderson to take Pine Rivers to a 12-6 lead. Again some sloppy handling from the Natives resulted in a turnover of possession and with some great runs by the Bears forwards in the 37th minute had second rower Henry Coutts unload a beautiful pass to send in centre Aaron Corbyn untouched in the corner to extend their lead to 16-6.
Halfback and goalkicker Anderson again superbly slotted through another two pointer to make it 18-6 to Pine Rivers. In a see sawing first half the Natives again regrouped and muscled up which saw them make some easy metres.
Natives centre Jerome Leedy split the Rivers defence to score in the corner to make it 18-10 to Pine Rivers. Before the conversion was kicked referee Bell called out Natives No. 11 Kenny Cobbo and sent him to the sin bin for 10 minutes for an indiscretion before the try was scored. Conversion was unsuccessful and Pine Rivers went into the halftime break leading 18-10.
The second half kicked off again with both teams still producing some monster hits in defence which you could easily hear from the sideline. A solid kicking game from Anderson saw some great field position for the Bears, who clawed their way into the Natives half early in the second half.
Following a few good solid hit ups by Kevin Sherriff and lock Shaun Broomham, the Rivers backline stepped into gear and a quickfire pass from halfback Anderson saw Culgan score beside the posts.
In a scrappy second half, it was Pine Rivers who kept their composure and a barnstorming run by Henry Coutts saw him offload a beautiful pass to Bears replacement player Mathew Butler to score beside the posts. With the conversion successful, Rivers extend their lead to 28-10.
The Natives went close on numerous times to score but were held up by the Rivers strong defence. Some charging runs by Kenny Cobbo, Morris Hodges and Anthony Gadd really kept the Bears defence on their toes. With Rivers not finished yet, a beautiful cross kick from Jordan Mitchell sat perfectly for tall striding winger Mitch Bertwhistle to easily out jump the Natives defence and score in the corner.
With Rivers still hungry for points, the Natives gave away some silly penalties to have the Bears piggyback down the field for good field position. Best on ground Culgan sent in rangy fullback Ben Holzapfel to score and Anderson converted the try to complete a strong 38-10 win for Pine Rivers.