The CQ Norths Chargers started their 2014 Rockhampton Rugby League campaign on Saturday night with a nail biting 28-26 win over the defending premiers Brothers, thanks in-part to a solid solo effort from local hero Alan Rothery.
Trailing 26-22 with only minutes remaining and throwing everything at the Brothers defence, Rothery crashed over with less than 30 seconds remaining before young halfback Dean Allen converted after the siren to win the game for the Chargers and notch up a maiden A-Grade victory for rookie senior coach Darren Ferricks, who was full of praise for his troops and the officials after the game.
“It was good to get off to a winning start, especially against the defending premiers,” Ferricks said.
“I think the referee did an outstanding job too. There were only three penalties awarded each during an entire 80 minutes of football, which really allowed the game to flow and I’m sure all the spectators would agree it was a great game to watch.”
In a game the youthful Brothers outfit could have been forgiven for thinking they weren’t much of a chance to win - with the absence of more than half the starting line up and a wealth of experience that played in last year’s Grand Final - they managed to race to a 16-0 first half lead on the back of numerous turnovers and gifted field position from the Chargers.
However some stern advice from coach Ferricks saw the Chargers emerged a completely different team after the break as they quickly went about erasing the halftime deficit with four tries in 15 minutes to lead for the first time in the match 22-16.
“We just didn’t stick to the game plan in the first half. Our combinations are still very fresh and we have a few guys who haven’t played for a couple of years that are still trying to get back into the swing of things. I just reassured the guys that if we stick to the game plan we’ll go a long way towards winning.”
The final 20 minutes of the game see-sawed with both sides presented with a number of golden opportunities to take the game and it was experience of CQ Capras and Brothers playmaker Reece Baker who came to the fore by setting up winger Darren Goodman in the corner against the run of play, before putting a pin-point kick into the in-goal for fullback Hugh Stanley to score what appeared to the match winner with 8 minutes remaining.
But it wasn’t to be and Brothers coach Michael Jenkins conceded his team’s inconsistency cost them the win and confirmed they have a few creases to iron out ahead of next weekend’s grand final re-match against the Biloela Panthers.
“We just dropped too much ball and tried to force the pass that wasn’t on. But we’ll work on that this week at training and hopefully we can put together a more consistent performance for our home crowd next week.”
Round 2 will also see the Fitzroy Sharks host the Yeppoon Seagulls while Norths have the Bye.
Round 1: CQU Norths 28 def Brothers 26, Biloela 54 def Fitzroy/Gracemere 10, Yeppoon bye.
Points: CQU Norths 2, Biloela 2, Yeppoon 0, Brothers 0, Fitzroy/Gracemere 0.