By Mike Simpson
Long-time rivals Valleys Diehards hosted Brothers in a pre-season trial at the super impressive Emerson Park on Saturday.
Valleys will this year compete in the newly revamped Brisbane Rugby League, a masterstroke by the QRL as it will generate excitement for the old faithful who have longed for this competition to rear its head again.
This game was billed as the Two Blues Charity shield. An Inaugural pre-season competition that would see the best and fairest player awarded the Wright/Scanlan medal in honour of two of the most respected players in the BRL competition in ex-Australian international and Brothers captain David Wright and Valleys Diehards legend Mick Scanlan.
With a bumper crowd in attendance, it was an absolute mighty effort by the behind the scenes staff at Valleys who simply are geniuses at organising such great events as this one. The day was also a fundraiser for Valleys player Tim Green who at present is battling cancer.
Brothers went on to notch a comfortable 30-12 victory over the understrength Diehards. The visitors produced a brilliant first half performance and were in complete control throughout the match.
The Leprechauns made a bright start to the game, crossing in the fifth minute through powerful centre Tim Tupou who was near unstoppable outwide. With the conversion beautifully executed by lock Adam Crear, the game had started at a ferocious pace and had the crowd on their feet.
Brothers had no problem taking their chances inside the Diehards quarter and some flashy brilliance by halfback Luke Strasser delivered a pass to James Marshall who crashed over for the Leprechauns second try of the afternoon. With the easiest of conversions, Brothers had skipped away to an early 12-0 lead.
Brothers skipped further in front when Crear converted his own try.
Their supporters had reason to be even more cheerful when the Leprechauns crossed yet again right on the stroke of halftime through fullback Eli Wickham who went over after a sizzling move by the Brothers backline. With goal kicking on song it was now 24-0 to the Butcher stripes and Valleys could only look on in despair as the game was now slipping from their reach.
With the one way traffic in the first half crushing the Diehards confidence, some positional changes by coach Pat O’Doherty was what was needed if the Diehards were going to be any sort of match to the slick Brothers side.
Defence looked a little more organised and there seemed to be more structure in the Diehards plays. But just as the Diehards were looking for a resurgence, centre Tupou played a starring role for the visitors as he again made a mockery of the Valleys defence and crossed for his second of the afternoon for Brothers to lead 30-0.
With the injection of replacement hooker Tyrone Lowry, the home side had a breath of fresh air. Lowry’s smart dummy half plays and quick fire passes were just what the doctor ordered to get the Blue and Whites back on track. It was Lowry’s organisational skills that set up Valleys first try and it was lock Chris Frost who finally got the Diehards on the scoreboard.
Another try nine minutes later saw the Diehards hit back, however at 30-10 this would be the final score for what was a very emotional yet successful day.