BY JOHN BIGNELL
After receiving a lesson in Rockhampton in the trial game a month ago the steely teal machine flew into the opposition with resolve and came up trumps after some anxious moments.
In the Cyril Connell match it was a case of penalties having a great effect on the result as the teams went one for one during the match. A penalty for offside gave the Crows the first opportunity after five minutes and the young Maryborough prop Jack Gauld used his strength to crash over next to the upright and gave Bundaberg jockey size Jackson Paulson an easy conversion and a 6-0 lead to the Crows. Paulson was busy again and made a great burst downfield when put through a hole by Jacob O’Shea. On a roll the ball went out to winger Corey Findlay who delivered a magical flick pass back inside to Biggenden’s Coby Gibbs who crossed in the corner to take the score to 10-0 and the Crows were dominating.
Possession changed to the Capras and for the next ten they continually charged at the defence and through quick play the balls they had the Crows hopping backwards when the big prop crashed through a retreating pack to score a converted try in the twentieth minute and a score of 10-6. The Crows continued to make defensive errors which resulted in penalties and allowed easy yardage and possession to the Capras and this advantage paid dividends when they galloped thru a defence with its back turned and scored again under the sticks to take a 12-10 lead to the break. O’Shea, Egan, Gibbs and Paulson were a handful when they had the ball while Mitchell’s Kennedy, Gauld, Bundaberg’s Freeman and Gladstone’s Mafi made good yards. To win this one they needed to slow play down without being penalised and let the backs do the running.
The second half began as the first and it wasn’t long before Bundaberg lad Jacob O’Shea showed some individual brilliance and scooted through for a converted try to give the lead back to the Crows at 16-12. There followed a period of play where both teams were having trouble maintaining possession and the game became a scrum fest for about ten minutes until the Capra half scooted from the scrum, found his centre angling at the hole and a neat pass put the Capras back in front at 18-16 and looking stronger. A chip kick was charged down by the Crows but only found the hands of the opposition five-eight who broke the line and drew the fullback before passing off to his winger to score in a covering tackle, converted, and the Capras had a commanding lead of 24-16 with ten to go.
It was left to the magic of the backs as Paulson again chimed in off the shoulder and raced the ball downfield. Gibbs then took off on another metre eating grab before the charging Gauld hit the defence and crashed through to race over untouched and the Crows had hit back to 24-22 down and with renewed vigor in the heat and the hint of a win in the air. They managed to defend their line and attacked downfield at every chance. A scrum about twenty out saw the play that would have the crowd with their mouth aghast. Diminutive half from Gympie, Bronson Buggy, seemed to overrun his support and darted off across field towards the corner. He stepped two tacklers and looked grassed but managed to deliver a pass to the flying and supportive Paulson who ducked through the defence and somehow got the ball down for a match winner with three minutes to go and after missing the conversion from the same spot where he had converted the previous try the Crows were in front 26-24 and minutes to defend. In their second set after the kick off they received a penalty which ran out the time and the Crows were home for their first win in two seasons but with the promise of more entertaining and winning football to come. A great team effort and belief in their game plan resulted in a nail-biting but deserved win.
The Mal Meninga game began in the hottest part of the day and proved to be a test for both teams to keep going. It took only one minute for the Capras to put the boot in with a deft chip which was left to bounce and the hooker regathered and crossed for a converted try and a 6-0 lead. Settling down to some serious business both sides completed their sets well until Bundaberg’s Cody Maughan cut back infield against the run of play, wrong footed the defence, delivered a pass to the support player Ben Marschke and it was try time under the sticks and scores level at 6-6. A penalty gave the Crows another opportunity and Jesse Marschke, who was later to leave the field with a nasty gash to his thigh, stepped inside the defence and under the posts for Hayden Herbert to pop over another easy conversion and take the lead to 12-6. The Capras got the ball back from a scrum and after bringing it back with quick play the balls found a short defence when a player came out of the line to stop the overlap but left three on one and they the centre scored in the corner to bring up 12-10 to the Crows. Both teams were matching it with each other before the Crows pulled off a great piece of attack with a fake to outside by Ben Marschke and picked up a charging Hayden Elsebach on the inside and the score moved to 18-10 with the Herbert conversion. Herbert, the Marschke twins, Elsebach, Kirk and Maughan were proving a headache in attack while the bruising tackles of Blackwater’s Reid, Goomeri’s Giles and Bundaberg’s Spry and winger Whaleboat were inspirational for the team.
The Crows continued the pressure and it wasn’t long before the fleet footed Jarrod Crook supported a tearaway Daniel Kirk down the sideline to race fifty metres outstripping the opposition, stood up the fullback and scored an unconverted try to take the lead to 22-10 and it appeared easy going for the Crows. Kirk broke the line again and raced thirty metres before offloading to the supporting Herbert who finished it off under the crossbar and then put the kick over the crossbar for a 28-10 lead going in to the Powerade break. Concentration waned and the defence became lazy allowing the Capras to push forward easily and the dummy half crossed over for a soft try before the half time hooter and closed the score to 28-16.
The Crows came out after drinks in a bit of a trance as they allowed the ball to bounce from the kick- off and hand possession over. In the following set the Capras took it to the line but knocked on while placing the ball and received the dropout. A surge forward and in good position they served it up to the outside backs for the centre to cross and move closer at 28-20. The Crows were still grazing and not moving off their line as the Capras were again given easy yardage and brought the ball down to within range of the tryline. A hard running Capra back rower made them pay, crashing over the scattering defenders on their heels and the Crows only led by 28-26 after ten minutes of the second half. Suddenly the game came alive and became a little fiery as both teams struggled for ascendency, one seeing a game slip away and the other knowing it was within their reach. A penalty for a shoulder charge gave the Crows an opportunity and a simple dummy by Herbert to Kirk resulted in another converted try and increased the lead to 34-26 but not yet out of the woods with twenty minutes remaining. The Capras returned with a vengeance and following an unnecessary cut-out pass which resulted in a Capras feed they again pushed downfield quickly and had the Crows retreating too fast to stop the agile winger scoring in the corner to add to the score at 34-30. It took another five minutes for the Crows to regroup, as they found themselves a man down, but they swung the ball from one side to the other with Crook and Reid making big yardage before Herbert again faked to the winger and turned inside to the ever present Captain Kirk who split the defence to cross with arm in the air. Herbert converted for a 40-30 score-line. Tyson Whaleboat strode down the sideline for a great forty metre run before another loose ball gave over possession to the Capras.
It was another great tackle from Elsebach which dislodged the ball and gave the Crows the scrum feed. Another penalty and the Crows were only twenty from the line when they pulled off a shifty move for Elsebach to cross and stretch it to 46-30 with a win looking likely at the twenty eight minute mark. Maughan was back on and into the action straight away when he charged onto a ball close to the line and wrestled his way over for the sealer at 52-30. Three minutes to go and the Capras weren’t to be denied as they hit back with a converted try to bring the score to 52-36 but a loose ball from the kick-off allowed the Crows a final play and fullback Baidon Cooper was rewarded for his hard work with a great wrap around and went over to bring up the final score of 56-36 and the first double for the Central team.
Next week the Central Crows find themselves travelling down to Beerwah to face coastal cousins, the Sunshine Coast Falcons, and the result of these games could result in who has bragging rights in the Central Division with four teams competing in the competition. The win against the Capras will give the Crows some confidence but they will be facing an undefeated MM team and a rejuvenated CC team who have an advantage of a better training preparation.
Coaches Alan Herbert and Darren Burns, although happy with the wins, are looking for further improvement from their players and believe that each week the teams grow stronger, smarter and tighter – just like a ‘murder of Crows’ found on any stretch of country bitumen.
BLACK, WHITE, GREEN – THESE CROWS NEED TO BE…………… “WATCHED”.