Beenleigh Pride coach Luke Deller insists his side is down but not out with the Pride losing 18-4 at the hands of Wests Inala at Bill Norris Oval.
The Pride were outgunned by a more determined Inala side that boasted 2015 BSDRL Player of the Year ex-Bulimba Bulldog Patrick Noonan.
The side are now equal second on the ladder and after this performance, have shown that they can be a very dangerous and frustrating side to play on their day.
The Pride, who were coming off an 18-14 loss to Bulimba, needed this win to stay in touch with the leaders, but a flat performance now sees them in a must-win game against Logan Brothers in a fortnight’s time.
The home side opened the scoring first with centre Mitchell Parrish latching onto a pinpoint Craig Chapman pass. It would be the last points the Pride scored for the afternoon as Inala took over the show and began to find cracks in the Pride’s game plan.
Enduring successive sets of six by the attacking Panthers, the visitors finally went in to score courtesy of second rower Dwayne Conlan, who slid into the corner to notch the first of his two tries for the afternoon.
Inala’s halves pairing of Josh Shadford and Graham Mason were on fire. At times the pair frustrated the Pride with their unorthodox playing style and were easily the Panthers best.
Shadford’s kicking in general play was spot on all afternoon, be it a towering spiral bomb or a neat grubber, his accuracy was near perfect.
His fine kicking prowess was to be how Inala’s next try played out. A beautiful 40/20 from the clever five-eighth saw the Panthers in good field position and it took Panthers centre Jay Crichton to find a chink in the Prides armour to go in and score a fantastic solo try.
Defensively, you couldn’t put a pin between these two sides. The intensity of these tackles was superior and both sides were level pegging with bragging rights on who was hitting the hardest.
Prides David Gorman, Samuel Chang and Matt Domek wreaked havoc in the middle all afternoon and for Inala, easily put down Dan Costello, Daniel Conlon and Patrick Noonan who were brutal for the Panthers.
Inala’s next try was a beauty. Exposing Beenleigh’s left hand side, it was Conlan again who scored an almost identical try to crash his way over. With goal kicking proving to be disastrous, the score remained 12-4 which took the teams to the halftime break.
It was a game both side’s targeted to win and both teams squandered chance after chance of scoring, but silly uncharacteristic errors had crept their way into the game that frustrated both players and coaches.
The Pride with Rhys Gorman calling the shots at halfback nearly went in to score in the 52nd minute, but a forward pass was ruled by the referee. With that setback, the Pride regrouped to hold out the excessive attacking raids by Inala who themselves were unlucky not to further advance the scoreline.
It wasn’t until the 59th minute that we saw more points and Inala’s winger Matt Stanley killed off any hopes of a Pride comeback when he tiptoed down the sideline to plant the ball down in the corner.
Replacement player Errol Palmer added insult to the scoreboard, when he landed a fantastic sideline conversion to make it 18-4.
Despite the loss, Pride coach Deller saw plenty of positives including their heroic defence and the standout performance of 18-year-old prop Matt Domek.
Domek led from the front and held his own against Inala and Deller believes his calling to the higher ranks is only around the corner.
“This kid is sheer class. Watch his name in years to come he is a special talent,” Deller said.
As for Inala’s coach Chris Conlan, he was a relived man with this vital two points. He was proud of his team’s effort, especially coming to the Pride’s home ground.
“I just want to say I am proud of the fellas for showing a lot of heart,” he said.
“To come here to Beenleigh and win is a tough.”
As for the Pride, they have a little work to do if they want to be one of the teams to make it to grand final day, but back-to-back grand final teams don’t go down without a fight.
Final Score: Wests Inala Panthers 18 def Beenleigh Pride 4.