Overcoming adversity seemed to be the common theme across the Central Highlands in round 7 of the junior rugby league season.
Ian Morrissey, President of the Peak Downs Pirates was quick to recognise the improved performance on the field by the Under 14s who played Middlemount. “Even though they lost, the improvement was great. Prior to this game they lacked commitment, but in this game, they matched their opposition in defence and toughness.” Morrissey said across the field, they pulled their weight and played a lot better as a team. “It was silly mistakes, and missed conversions that lost them the game, definitely not their efforts.” He said this performance gave them confidence for the remainder of the season.
The Clermont Bears hosted the Gemfields up to Under 12s, and the Tigers in the 14s and 16s. President Wendy Johnstone also nominated the Under 14s as the game of the day. “The boys have been doing it tough. They haven’t won a game all year and have struggled to be consistent, then last week (Round 6) their coach was taken ill, flown out and missed the game.” Despite the poor start to the season, they put it all together this week and with the coach back in charge, showed exactly what they are capable of.
“Connor Anderson scored in the first minute of the game, and the boost to their enthusiasm was visible. The talk was positive…there was a lot of back slapping, and high fiving.” The Tigers however fought back from 22 – 0 to be within four at the half time break. “You could see our players’ heads start to drop, and everyone hoped that they would stay positive.” And they did. The Bears came back following the break and scored three unanswered tries resulting in a 38 – 18 final score. “The crowd was very involved in the game, and really appreciated the efforts, the commitment and the teamwork the players across the field showed. It was definitely the game of the day.”
Across in Dysart, the Bulls played host to the Middlemount Panthers. The Bulls’ Under 10s started the season with 14 players, but local industry cutbacks saw their numbers dwindle to 11. The team have suffered some major losses in the first half of the season and low player numbers means they don’t have the luxury of bench players.
Coach Dean Thacker however was full of praise for their commitment. “Those 11 kids are all heart.” Thacker said that on Saturday, they realised their power as a team working together. “Their defence was impeccable, their tackling skills brilliant but most importantly, their sportsmanship and grace against the other team was impressive to say the least.” Thacker said the size of the player’s smiles at the end of the game was matched only by the joy of the club. “They couldn’t have made their parents or me prouder.” Thacker said their commitment epitomises the Dysart Bull’s slogan, ‘A little bit of bull goes a long way.’
Round 8 will be spread far and wide with games in Emerald, Dysart, Blackwater and Springsure.