Friday night footy delivered once again in the Highlands with the Clermont Bears keeping out the Bluff Rabbitohs in Clermont to kick-off Round 9.
The Rabbit-proof defence worked in the end, keeping out the visitors after many attacking raids in the final 10 minutes, winning 30-24.
The Bears looked to attack Bluff’s edges, trying to stay away from the likes of Peter McLaughlin, Chris Conway and Ben Byrne who were playing in the middle.
The left edge was the go-to edge throughout the night with Jack Slattery and Will Mohr bagging a double each, including three tries in seven minutes which was the turning point for the Bears to bring it home.
Bluff threw everything except for the kitchen sink at the match, but just couldn’t crack the Bears. Still with a good chance of making finals, they face the Cowboys at home this weekend.
Middlemount hosted a ‘grand final replay’ double header at Norm Blanche on Saturday, with a top of the table women’s match between Clermont and Tigers preceding the Middlemount v Tigers clash.
The crowd were in numbers for the first double header at Norm Blanche since 2014 and didn’t both games deliver.
The Clermont Bears Ladies ran away with the game early in the first half with many predicting the Bears to run away even further from the understrength Tigers.
As the points continued to flow for the Bears, the game on Saturday showed that the game is not over until the final siren as the defending premiers staged a late second half comeback to get within six points of the Bears.
Sadly, it was too little, too late and the Tigers succumbed to their second loss of the season to the Bears once again.
Emerald Star Hotel player of the match, Kailah Rogers was outstanding for her new club at five-eighth and should retain the number six jersey for the remainder of the season. She has the best boot in the Pirtek Women’s competition with not only her kicks in general play, but also her goal kicking – slotting a perfect five from five.
Player/coach Casey Watkins used her experience in the middle to rally her troops so close to victory, scoring two tries and leading from the front at dummy-half, but sadly it wasn’t enough for the Tigers in the first game of the losing double.
In the second grand final replay of the year, the Middlemount Panthers and Emerald Tigers left nothing on the field, playing for their late, great mate, Nathan “Shorty” Moffatt.
Missing Ryan Hansell and Mitch Wyatte, the Panthers started strong in the first half and led 18-8 going into the sheds.
Much like last year’s big dance, the Tigers came alive in the second half with Ryley Parter bagging another two tries to his name, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Panthers, winning 30-20.
Michael Baker was named the Emerald Star Hotel player of the match for his efforts in the halves, providing a sound kicking game for his backs to pick up and score.
It’s going to be a tough week for both the Panthers and Tigers as they face the Bears (in Middlemount) and Mountain Men (in Emerald) respectively in Round 10 fixtures this Saturday.
Middlemount pausing to remember Nathan "Shorty" Moffatt. PHOTO: David Graham
The Springsure Mountain Men returned to the winner’s circle following a 50-20 win at home against the Dysart Bulls.
Despite losing a few boys to the Alpha Races, Jared Owens got back to playing his best footy, scoring two tries and earning 3 Referee B&F points with a five-star performance.
Mark Francey and Dan Mattey also helped with the try-scoring, both earning a double each.
For Dysart, Davin Turner and Boof Hicks scored two tries each to help fend off the onslaught, but the ladder leaders were just too good at home.
In the Sunday afternoon affairs, Blackwater travelled across to steal the show from the Cowboys, recording wins in both the Men’s and Women’s games.
The Crushettes secured a 68-0 victory against an understrength Cowgirls team who had a few key players out due to work and sickness.
Mariah Storch’s weekend away with the Queensland Women’s team was certainly worth it, returning to record a four-try haul and converting 10 of 12 goals.
The Cowgirls toiled hard, but it was always going to be difficult with reduced numbers. Credit to their forward pack though who made Blackwater earn points and once their playmakers return, will provide the go forward for their backs to score some points.
The Crushers followed in the footsteps of their women, defeating the Cowboys 46-4.
The Crushers have been the best defensive side in the comp this season, leaking the least amount of points (172pts) and it was that defence that was on display on Sunday, keeping the Cowboys scoreless for 70 minutes.
The only try the Cowboys did score was a chip and chase from Sam Clayton which even the best footy side in the world would have had trouble stopping and was definitely worth more than the four points that are offered.
Getting Adam Stewart back in Crushers’ colours has been one of the best decisions for the club this season as he has been outstanding in the halves. Rhys Giles was also strong once again in the back row and has led from the front as the captain.
Don’t put a line through the Cowboys just yet as they were missing their halves pairing of Will Pakie and Andrew Doyle plus new recruit Matthew Malisi up front. Also, Ali Hromadzic only played limited minutes from the bench and was a little disappointing, so expect him to bounce back this weekend against Bluff.
Can you believe that this year’s grand final is only two months away? With only five games left of the regular season, the top four spots are still readily up for grabs and with the current state of the competition, every point on the scoreboard matters.
ROUND 9 RESULTS
CLERMONT BEARS 30 (Will Mohr 2, Jack Slattery 2, Mitch Gall, Dean Williams tries; Brodee Barrett 2, Ethan Kennedy goals) defeated BLUFF RABBITOHS 24 (Gus Wogand 2, Jack Laxton, Brodie Leonard tries; Reece Williams 4 goals)
CLERMONT BEARS LADIES 30 (Carly Bell 3, Kailah Rogers, Sherie Allison tries; Kailah Rogers 5 goals) defeated EMERALD TIGERS LADIES 24 (Casey Watkins 2, Arnika Cave, Cooper Hill tries; Maddie Edmonds 4 goals)
MIDDLEMOUNT PANTHERS 30 (Michael Morrissey 2, Matt Heidecker, Sam Creedon, Joel Duffy tries; Matt Heidecker 5 goals) defeated EMERALD TIGERS 24 (Ryley Parter 2, Paul Bone, Wade Campbell tries; Steven Hoek 2 goals)
SPRINGSURE MOUNTAIN MEN 50 (Jared Owens 2, Mark Francey 2, Dan Mattey 2, Matt Martell, Henry Watkins, Kevin Kelbassa tries; Jared Owens 5, Ray Ebsworth 2 goals) defeated DYSART BULLS 20 (Ryan Hicks 2, Davin Turner 2 tries; Delroy Matthews 2 goals)
BLACKWATER CRUSHETTES 68 (Mariah Storch 4, Olivia Hamilton 2, Megan Latchford 2, Annette Lammermoor, Justine Fletcher, Miranda Baker, Lauren Pingel tries; Mariah Storch 10 goals) defeated EMERALD COWGIRLS 0
BLACKWATER CRUSHERS 46 (Adam Stewart 2, Brendan Fuller 2, Hayden Latchford, Jed Brunner, Kevin Bartley, Shane Pingel, Ryan Palmer tries; Shae Cox 4, Adam Stewart goals) defeated EMERALD COWBOYS 6 (Sam Clayton try; Jack Edwards goal)
Men’s Ladder after Round 9: Springsure 12, Middlemount 12, Clermont 11, Blackwater 10, Tigers 9, Bluff 7, Cowboys 6, Dysart 3
Women’s Ladder after Round 9: Tigers 14, Clermont 12, Blackwater 10, Cowgirls 6, Dysart 4
For the full draw, results, ladders and upcoming fixtures of the Central Highlands Rugby League, visit www.chrugbyleague.com.au.