Goondiwindi Boars centre Kerrod ‘Baby Panda’ Sampson, the son of former Canterbury Bulldogs star Ewan McGrady, showing his pedigree on the weekend.
(Image courtesy of Renee Tomkins - Goondiwindi Argus)
The ‘Hutchinson Builders’ Toowoomba Rugby League premiership ladder is somewhat congested at the top end with the Gatton Hawks, Highfields Eagles and Wattles Warriors all perched on the top rung after Round 14, both Wattles and Highfields up there courtesy of weekend winning results while Gatton drew the bye round.
The Pittsworth Danes, Valleys Roosters, Dalby Diehards and Warwick Cowboys are all within two competition points of each other and jostling for the remaining two top five positions.
“Goondiwindi on Fire on Home Track”
While we predicted last week that the Goondiwindi Boars gave an inkling they were going to bother a few clubs on the run home to the finals series, nobody expected a 98 – 4 win over the hapless Oakey Bears.
To their credit, the Bears didn’t travel well for the trip west to Goondiwindi, well down on numbers for the tough encounter at Gilbert Oval.
The Boars gave the home crowd a feast of tries for their entry money, running in eighteen touchdowns to one to claim their fourth victory of the season.
It was certainly doom and gloom for the second last on the ladder Bears, who despite current form barrelled the reigning premiers & full strength Wattles Warriors earlier this season. Goondiwindi rattled up a quick fire 60 points and held Oakey scoreless over the first half, falling off the pace for the final forty minutes.
Wattles v Warwick
The Wattles Warriors finished ahead of traditional neighbours the Warwick Cowboys 26 – 18 at Platz Oval on Saturday night to jump to the premiership top rung with Gatton & Highfields. Both sides had some regular top graders missing on the night, and the Luke Duggan coached Wattles line-up dwindled to thirteen by full time.
While Warwick posted first points, Wattles lifted in front of a home crowd to lead 16 – 6 at the break. Both sides traded tries in the second stanza, and while Warwick coach Matt Gainey was happy with his team’s performance despite the loss, the result saw the Cowboys tumble out of the top five.
Highfields v Dalby
The Dalby Diehards had a spring in their step running on to Highfields Eagle’s Kuhls Road Complex coming off a couple of handy recent wins. The Diehards are focused on becoming a fixture in the top five after dropping out and fighting their way back to be with the top of the ladder company.
They got of to a great start and put some points on the joint competition leading Eagles, and led 16 – 14 at half time.
The Eagles managed a try to go ahead 20 – 16 soon after the restart, and dropped to eleven men after two players enjoyed a ten minute sin bin residence. The Diehards also lost a player before Highfields showed their class to score three tries in a ten minute patch to secure victory.
Pittsworth v Souths
The Pittsworth Danes finished on the right side of the ledger 34 – 30 against an ever improving Souths Tigers outfit at Pittsworth. The Tigers may be perched down the ladder a ways in ninth place, but the Danes had to work hard for the win, only a try in it at the end.
Pittsworth were first on the scoreboard but the Tigers retaliated with two touchdowns to lead 12 – 6. The home side weren’t to be outdone and took a handy 22 – 12 lead in to the dressing shed at half time.
Both sides swapped tries in the second half with the Danes leading 34 – 24 before a gritty finish by Souths saw then fall short of a third victory for the season to date.
Pittsworth’s English import hooker Josh Sudlow was judged Man of the Match winning his second 'Hutchies Mug' award in as many weeks.
Valleys v Brothers
The Valleys Roosters continued their vigorous charge for a top five slot proving to strong for the bottom of the ladder Brothers Leprechauns when they clashed at Glenholme Park on Sunday, the Roosters running out 25 – 4 winners.
The valuable win has Valleys level with Dalby on fifteen competition points, but holding fifth place on for and against.
While desperately seeking a win to lift them from the cellar, Brothers had the Roosters earning their spurs as they built their first half 12 – 0 lead at the break. While Brothers snared a solitary try in the final forty minutes, Valleys maintained a steady momentum to be assured of the premiership points.
Round 15 offers another batch of matches that are going to provide plenty of thrills and spills for spectators.
There are also matches that will see some further top five shuffling in the bottleneck on the fifth rung.
On Saturday Valleys are hosting Pittsworth at Herb Steinohrt Oval, with both sides showing good form in recent weeks. Whoever wins could hold fourth place, Pittsworth already perched there and Valleys one point behind. Valleys will be keen to finish ahead given they have a tough three weeks on the horizon with Wattles, Gatton & Warwick in line as opponents.
Also on Saturday the Oakey Bears will be looking at clawing back some pride on their home turf of Trevor Mickelborough Oval against co-competition leaders the Highfields Eagles. It might seem a tall order but the tenth placed Bears did dispatch another co-competition leader in Wattles back in Round 7 to the tune of 48 – 36, one of Oakey’s two wins this season.
One cannot ignore the Highfields form guide though with a share of the premiership lead along with nine wins & two draws from thirteen outings.
The Dalby Diehards are at home on Sunday and hosting the bottom of the table Brothers Leprechauns who continue to search for another win to add to their solitary positive result so far this season. So while it is important to Brothers, it is vital also to Dalby as they cling to the doorway of the top five.
The Diehards will need to be on full alert to pick up the points, especially as they are coming off a loss which coach Kerry Carmichael rated as their worst game of the season.
Souths Tigers meet the Wattles Warriors at Clive Berghofer Stadium in Toowoomba on Sunday, Souths coming off a near thing lose to Pittsworth last week and looking like they are about to do some damage to the front-runner clubs.
They will need to be on their game though, while Wattles lost a few troops last week with injury in a torrid clash with Warwick, coach Luke Duggan has named a near full strength line-up to match up with the Tigers.
Reigning premiers Wattles are aiming for their ninth successive win adding in their Madson-Rasmussen Trophy mid-season success.
A well rested Gatton Hawks line-up take on the Warwick Cowboys at Warwick’s Father Ranger Oval on Sunday, the Hawks lining up near full strength and fresh after an RDO last Sunday having drawn the bye. If Gatton are to stay at the head of the ladder with Wattles & Highfields a win is vital, while Warwick strive for a win with plenty of urgency given they fell out of the top five after their last start.
Warwick Captain/Coach Matt Gainey is hoping his side comes together after a number of absentees last week against Wattles, and a number on the paddock having to play out of position. While Gainey was happy with his side’s efforts in the loss, they will be hoping for the return of regulars including bustling centre Joe Fuimaono and halfback Trent Achilles to combat the might of the Hawks.
After running themselves ragged last week running up 98 A Grade points, the Goondiwindi Boars will enjoy an RDO this weekend having drawn the bye.
A hearty Toowoomba Rugby League vote of Congratulations to former Toowoomba juniors Jordon Drew and Ashley Taylor who wore the Queensland maroon with pride in the Under 20 clash with New South Wales prior to ‘Origin III’ on Wednesday evening.
Unfortunately the Maroons finished behind the Blues, but Jordon & Ashley along with former Miles junior Luke Bateman have proved they are among the ‘Best of the Best’ for the future.
‘Hutchinson Builders’ a Grade Premiership Ladder after Round 13: Gatton 20, Wattles 20, Highfields 20, Pittsworth 16, Valleys 15, Dalby 15, Warwick 14, Goondiwindi 8, Souths 5, Oakey 4, Brothers 3.
Round 15 Fixtures: Saturday – Valleys v Pittsworth, Herb Steinohrt Oval, Toowoomba; Oakey v Highfields, Trevor Mickelborough Oval, Oakey; Sunday – Dalby v Brothers, Dalby Rugby League Club; Souths v Wattles, Clive Berghofer Stadium, Toowoomba; Warwick v Gatton, Father Ranger Oval, Warwick; Goondiwindi bye.