The CQU Norths Chargers found their way back on to the winners list after a gutsy 37-36 win over a spirited Brothers outfit at Victoria Park, in the annual XXXX Rivalry Round of the Rockhampton Senior Rugby League A-Grade competition.
An Ian Webster field-goal in the 75th minute proved to be the difference in a close finish, as the visitors reclaimed top spot on the ladder.
The absence of some key players saw Brothers’ coach Michael Jenkins call on the services of under 18’s players Troy Wheeler and Brady Mayne to make their A-Grade debut and they didn’t disappoint, as the home side skipped out to an early 12-4 lead on the back of some brilliance from livewire fullback Ashley Ketchell.
In what’s considered by many locals as the biggest club rivalry in the CQ region, these two sides lived up to their reputations in a hard-fought contest that reached boiling point midway through the first half, when a melee resulted in Russell Webber and Havea Halaton both spending 10 minutes in the sin-bin.
This appeared to spark the Chargers into gear, resulting in them playing a more expansive brand of football that eventually payed dividends – A double to club stalwart Dallas Williams and further tries to wingers Clint Rothery and Dale Stevens saw them take a commanding 24-12 lead into the break.
However the young Brethren side mounted a spirited fight back after halftime, scoring three tries in 15 minutes. Fullback Ashley Ketchell grabbed his second, before prop Rhys Chapman crossed under the posts and debutant Troy Wheeler dived over to put the home side in front by 6.
In his first game starting at halfback this season, the experience of former CQ Capras utility and Welsh international Webster began to shine as he dictated play and controlled the game perfectly in the closing stages, putting back rower Clint Mooney and bearded crowd favourite Brent Williams over for tries, before effectively sealing the win with a drop goal.
In the other game to close out Round 6 the Fitzroy/Gracemere Sharks managed to hold on and grab a share of the points in a hard fought 34-34 draw against premiership favourites Biloela Panthers at Saleyards Park.
There will be no local games played next weekend as all teams are given a bye ahead of the Central Division’s annual representative carnival – the 47th Battalion – which will see teams from all across the state compete in a two-day carnival in Gladstone, before a Central Crows Representative team is selected.