Opacic’s treble gets Phins first win
Wynnum Manly’s lack of attacking firepower again saw them unable to defend home turf, closing out Round 3 of the Intrust Super Cup competition with a 38-6 loss to the Redcliffe Dolphins at BMD Kougari Oval.
Winger Tom Opacic would open the account for Redcliffe, with a fifth-tackle movement catching the Seagulls left-hand side off-guard, sending the duel Bronco-Dolphin over in the corner for what would be his first of three for the day.
Tim Natusch would provide some early go-forward the Wynnum Manly side, with his hard-running earning a pair of penalties inside the first 15 minutes, but a dropped bomb by winger Jeriah Goodrich led to the Dolphins second with Darren Nicholls selling a dummy to get him over the line.
The downfield breeze was evident throughout the game, both teams often electing to take taps opposed to touch-finders, but it certainly showed its might in the 19th minute, forcing a Redcliffe penalty kick attempt from in front to sail wide right.
Wynnum looked to kick into gear with 15 minutes left in the first, but the handling errors from last week seemed to rear their heads, putting out a lot of the fire to their attacking efforts.
The Dolphins managed to extend their lead in the 26th minute with an Anthony Cherrington offload sparking the action down the right edge that would finish in Opacic’s second.
The Seagulls again looked a possibility of getting on the board, but more miscommunication and indecision lead to another empty-handed red zone visit in the 37th minute.
Moments before the half time buzzer, Aaron Whitchurch came within inches of punishing the Wynnum left-hand defence for a third try, but for a desperate ball-and-all tackle by Mitchell Buckett, who would finish as the best on park for the Gulls.
The second half saw a rough handling day continue for Daniel Ogden, with the Seagulls’ custodian unable to cleanly collect a bouncing kick in the 45th minute that presented the Dolphins with the first attacking shot of the second half.
Nicholls would exploit the field position a few tackles later, delivering a perfect double cut-out pass to a flying Jonas Pearson to add four points on the other flank.
The second half presented itself as war of attrition as both packs tried to fight fatigue, but it was Dolphins’ coach Adam Mogg who seemed to be employing the more successful interchange strategy, injecting his team with a healthy dose of Charlie Faingaa and Joseph Bradley to complement the edge-work by Cherrington and Chris Gesch.
Opacic would complete his hat-trick in the 55th minute when three-quarter partner Whitchurch stepped outside his opposite number before flick-passing the winger his third-try.
Much like the first half, Wynnum Manly looked to finally respond after a metre-eating run by newcomer Magnus Stromquist, but came up short once more when referee Jarrod Cole blew the whistle for obstruction on the ensuing backline play.
The already worrying scoreline for the Seagulls got worse when Zach Strasser crashed over in the 62nd minute, followed by Luke Capewell in the 72nd.
The consolation of a long-range try a few minutes earlier to Patrick Templeman would be drowned out by the worries of a possible serious knee injury to Stromquist that forced the prop to the sidelines in the last two minutes.
This was the first victory under new head coach Adam Mogg and saw the Dolphins place one hand on the Herald Press Cup.
Wynnum Manly are now 0-3 and they will travel up to Townsville next week for a tough challenge against last season’s grand final runners-up at Jack Manski Oval.
REDCLIFFE DOLPHINS 38 (Thomas Opacic 3, Darren Nicholls, Jonus Pearson, Zach Strasser, Luke Capewell tries; Darren Nicholls 5 goals) def WYNNUM MANLY SEAGULLS 6 (Patrick Templeman try; Mathew Seamark goal) at BMD Kougari Oval.