A great all round team performance enabled the Brisbane Natives to get home worthy winners over a spirited Valleys side 22-16 at Warburton Park.
In front of a bitterly disappointing crowd, it is games like this that should have the punters coming through the turnstiles, but with the lowly crowd in place, it did not stop both sides from putting on an attacking show that ended up being quite an entertaining match.
After two minutes, the Natives through lock Harrison burst upfield into open space, chipped over the Valleys fullbacks head and regathered to dive over beside the posts in a cracking start to the game. Reliable kicker Anthony Gadd made no mistake with the conversion and the Natives shot out of the blocks early on.
The Natives, on the back of a bustling run by go to man Gadd, offloaded a nice pass to replacement Blackman who took his time to place the ball over the line, however some quick thinking by Valleys fullback Kafi knocked the ball from his grasp and was ruled a no try.
But just as the Natives were having all the fun, a spilled ball by Natives fullback Leedie was scooped up magnificently by Valleys winger Nick Beacroft and he raced away 40m to score under the posts. Reece Rowlinson slotted the easy conversion and it was soon 6-6 on the scoreboard.
From the restart, some clever Anthony Gadd thinking with a short restart was enough to enable the Natives to get the ball back and resulted in their next try right on halftime with jack in the box fullback Leedie scooting away to offload a pass to centre Budd who crossed outwide. The score now read 10-6 Natives.
In an action packed game there was enough thrills and spills at both ends to keep the crowd entertained and some massive hits in defence by both sides were absolutely bone jarring. Natives led by the towering Gadd and his counterparts in Trevor Blair and Morris Hodges did the Indigenous side proud, but not to be outdone, the Blue and Whites were equally impressive with Drew Abbott, Hayden George and powerhouse Leon Talagi who was nearly unstoppable on occasions.
Natives started where they left off on the scoreboard in the second half and were first to score after 11 minutes when Harrison again went in for his second of the afternoon with a clever little step off the left foot to go under the posts. With Gadd having the easiest of conversions, the Natives shot out to a 16-6 lead early on.
The next try and easily the try of the afternoon belonged to energetic Natives halfback Durante-Coyne who evaded five Valleys players with a side stepping run, ran across field and even with the Valleys fullback Kafi holding on for dear life was not going to stop the try and had everyone in attendance cheering such a fantastic effort. With Harrison taking the kick at goal it was Natives in a commanding lead 22-6.
Valleys not to be outdone and as always led by the impressive and inspirational five-eighth Keith Eshman, soon found some rejuvenation and not once showed they were ready to throw the towel in.
With Eshman’s kicking being the Diehards main arsenal on the field it was his passing this time that led to Valleys next try when he threw a three man cut out pass to find his winger Quinton Nugent to score in the corner. Rowlinson missed with the difficult conversion and the score read 22-10.
A glut of dropped ball by both sides reared its ugly head in the second half but it did not deter from some great attacking play. The Natives were throwing the ball around like a hot potato and Valleys were also beginning to throw caution to the wind which paid off when bullocking front rower Talagi was rewarded for his gutsy effort going in under the posts. Rowlinson converted to make it 22-16 to the Natives.
With only a minute remaining and some absolutely brutal defence by Natives forward Blair, it appeared the Diehards were down and out, but again some Eshman magic with the ball nearly saw the Diehards cross again with a surge upfield by Rowlinson only to be collared and sent crashing to the ground in a heart palpitating last 60 seconds. Natives 22 def Valleys 16.