The Cyril Connell Crows team did not learn from the previous week and again suffered a humiliating loss at the hands of the Northern Pride.
They began well but when Toby Walker was taken out late it shattered the confidence of the team and let the Pride display their ball skills and quick running game to the max. It became a procession of tries as poor handling and on the line tackling let the Crows down and the Pride jumped away to a 26-0 half time lead. The second stanza fared no better and the Pride made easy yardage through penalties and slick passing to the flanks. Toby Walker was punishing in defence until taken off with a rib and sternum injury and the Crows lost their halfback Bronson Buggy.
Laikyn Jung contributed well with strong runs and stiff defence along with support from Josh Ellems, Sam Cronk and Jack Kennedy until Kennedy came off with a head knock also. Derome Mafi was one man out until he found allies in Cassius Paitai and Kailum Freeman who tried hard but could not find runners when needed. The final score was 58-6 with the sole try going to Sam Cronk and converted by Oliver Peak. There were a number of players who were either overawed or flat from flights and the coach will be making changes this week after the past two performances.
The Mal Meninga team again stepped up and after a tough struggle in the first half drew on their Crow pride to dominate the second half. From the kick off the ball was lost and a couple of settling rucks put big Kyle Spry in a position for a great angled run back at the posts to crash over, converted by Hayden Herbert and the Crows were off to a great 6-0 start. Play went from one end to the other with a try disallowed before a dropped ball in the Crows twenty gave the Pride a chance.
The Crows withstood four sets at their line before a bullocking 12 crossed to level the scores at 6-6. The Crows were being penalised for holding down and gave easy ground to the Pride who took advantage with a timely jinking run by Patrick Lewis from fullback who stepped the opposition to give the Pride a 12-6 lead in the eighteenth minute. The Crows hit back with a strong run down the line by Cody Maughan, laid off to Kaddison Millard, who was hit late in the larynx and left the field, but not before he managed to get the ball to Joe Curran who raced in under the sticks and Hayden Herbert converted to level up. Crows received a penalty from the kick off but failed to find touch and the Pride were again on the attack. A run around move had the Crows stop in their tracks waiting for the offside call which didn’t come and the second rower crossed untouched for an unconverted try and 16-12 lead going into half time.
The second half had the Crows on the hop as they flew downfield from the kick off with strong forward runs until Daniel Kirk strode out of a tackle to set Tyson Whaleboat up for a great try in the corner. Three minutes into the half and it was 16-16 with no beg pardons. The Pride held the Crows out and eventually got the ball back and attacked with vigour. Another criss-cross move beat the defence for Tutavale to cross and the Northern lads were back in front 22-16 with thirty to go. Tyson Whaleboat was working up the middle and one strong run resulting in support by Daniel Kirk who raced over the forty. A quick play and out to the backs where Maughan again barrelled his opposite number to stride down the line, draw the fullback and put Kaddison Millard on his way to score in the corner.
The try was not converted and the Crows had closed to 22-20. They again pushed forward from the kick off through the powerful running of Clayton Dodt, Michael Giles and Kyle Spry. It was then out to the speedy backline and Jarrod Crook found a hole, speared through and sped away for a forty metre try under the posts, converted by Hayden Herbert and the Crows were back in front 26-22. A penalty for a late charge on the kicker gained the Crows easy yardage before another for offside gave them an opportunity near the line and Kyle Spry went over off a Herbert pass to bring the score to 30-22 and some breathing space with seven minutes to go.
Strong runs from Curran, Kirk and Coen Horan gave the Crows a small break for the big man, Kyle Spry, to crash through and send Baidon Cooper towards the line. From the dropout Tyson Whaleboat supported another break only to be knocked into touch in the corner. A dropped ball led to a scrum and the ball quickly went to the flying Cooper who stood the centre, straightened and wrong footed the fullback to scoot over for the clincher and bring up the final score of 36-22. Although this was a great team effort the cameos of Joe Curran, who was strong across the park in his best game this series, and the impact of Coen Horan in defence during his short time on the field showed the pride of all players when playing for this team. The tightness of their mateship and attention to instructions could lead to a finals spot which is not bad for a team that gets a one hour training session together each week. Wherever the crow flies there will be a footballer looking to be a part of this opportunity for the country lads.
This week it is off to the grounds of the Chinchilla Bulldogs and up against Central cousins the Toowoomba Clydesdales at 5.00pm and 6.30pm as curtain raisers to the A Grade game in a full day of Rugby League at Chinchilla.