The Biloela Panthers managed to exact revenge for last season’s grand final disappointment with a determined 32-24 win over Rockhampton Brothers in the Local League competition on Sunday, on the back of some well orchestrated play from five-eighth Dan Martin.
Martin played a major part in the win - contributing to multiple tries for the visitors and threatening to break the Brothers defence on a number of occasions through some strong running - but it was his precision kicking game that had captain/coach Peter Rodgers smiling and triumphantly guiding the Panthers home.
“It’s good to get one back over them (Brothers) after the Grand Final last year, we were terrible that day and although we didn’t capitalise on all of the opportunities we were given today, we’re still happy to take the win,” Rogers said
“I thought Dan (Martin) played really well, he’s got a great kicking game, demands the ball when he wants it and does a great job leading us around the field.”
Both teams traded blows and gifted each other possession early in what began as an intense physical battle however the Panthers were first to cash in, skipping to an early 12-0 lead with tries each to the centre pairing of James Balnaives and Nigel Atfeild.
The poor ball handling continued from both sides in the first half and despite tries to Brothers young gun Liam Pickersgill and five-eighth Kayan Davis running away to score under the posts, it was the Panthers who would take a 16-10 lead into the break following a strong solo effort from Panthers substitute Matt Martin.
A double to utility Ashley Ketchell and a try to hooker Grant Rogers on the back of a Sam Granville line break appeared to steady the ship in the second half for the Brethren, taking them to a 24-16 lead. However further turnovers started to amount and the Panthers piled on the pressure in a well executed final 15 minutes. Tries to Jacob Heid, Rhys Giles and prop Gus David on the siren sealed the win for the visitors, taking them to a confidence building 2-0 start to the season.
In the other A-Grade fixture for round 2 the Yeppoon Seagulls kicked off their 2014 campaign with a clinical 104-6 annihilation of Fitzroy/Gracemere, in a game that saw halfback Blake Wallace personally notch up a massive 42 points.
While Seagulls coach Jason Green was in some ways sympathetic at the apparent lack of experienced personnel and depth at the Sharks this season, he was also quick to heap praise on his young team after resting a number of senior players including Jonathan Tavinor and Darren Rogers.
“In some ways I feel sorry for them being in that position, but every club goes through it. Yeppoon was in a similar way when I came to the club a few years ago,” Green said
“Take nothing away from our guys today though, we were quite clinical in the way we forced the mistakes and I was happy that everyone did their job and didn’t try to over-play things.”