Tully and Innisfail grind out thrilling draw on wet track

In wet and slippery conditions, the Tully Tigers ground out a 16-16 draw against their Cassowary Coast rivals Innisfail Leprechauns at Tully Showgrounds on Sunday which saw them retain the Mayor's Challenge trophy.

The local derby clash didn't disappoint as there was plenty of fierce rivalry and a physical contest between the two sides.

Tully posted first points through Phil Nona, but Innisfail struck back soon after with a four pointer to Aaron Jolley.

Trevor Mathieson sustained a neck injury just before halftime and play was halted as he received medical attention and was eventually transported to hospital.

A try to Tully's Benn Campagnolo before halftime saw the Tigers with a slim 12-6 lead at the break. 

Benn Campagnolo beats the Innisfail defence and crashes over the line for Tully's second try of the match. Photo: Maria Girgenti
Benn Campagnolo beats the Innisfail defence and crashes over the line for Tully's second try of the match. Photo: Maria Girgenti

Early in the second half, Jackson Laza streaked away for an Innisfail try and a wayward conversion kept Tully with a narrow two point lead.

When Nona nailed two important penalty kicks in quick succession, Tully extended their lead to 16-10.

Innisfail failed to give up and with five minutes left to play, Jolley crossed over for his second try and slotted the crucial conversion and both sides were locked up at 16-16.

Despite some frantic play, nothing could separate the two teams and the scoreboard remained deadlocked at full time. 

Tully coach Aaron Tongalea said to get a draw was just as good as a win and he was proud of his players as it had been a rocky start to the season.

"We knew with Innisfail we would be up against a big and talented side in all areas, so the boys had to turn up to play their hearts out," Tongalea said.

"Sometimes it just takes something like a draw or win to create that positive vibe among the team and after the game we regrouped and spoke briefly about self belief."

This is Tongalea's second year in the coaching role, but he has been involved with the club for seven years in A Grade and as a former trainer was mentored by former Tully coach Leon Hallie.

Prior to taking the field, the side was severely depleted due to injuries and players unable to play due to other commitments.

"We had no interchange and had to grab four boys from reserve grade so all 17 players who took the field really stepped up to the challenge and showed the true Tigers spirit and character."

Tongalea said while Tully are not a big team, the had "a bunch of guys who just want to play for their jerseys".

It has been a rebuilding phase for Tully with a mixture of youth and some older experienced players and are missing stalwarts such as Marcus Nona and Jack Campagnolo who have moved up play for Northern Pride.

He said it was great to have Jack Murphy return to the side as his experience has made a huge difference on the park.

This week, the side will concentrate on a few areas and have a lot to work to do in the next few weeks, but the coach hopes now they will to be able to get their season back on track and start getting results on the board.

This Sunday, Tully travel away to Jilara Oval to play Yarrabah which will be a big game and another tough encounter.

Trevor Mathieson had a great game for Tully in the first half before he suffered a neck injury and had to leave the field by ambulance. Photo: Maria Girgenti
Trevor Mathieson had a great game for Tully in the first half before he suffered a neck injury and had to leave the field by ambulance. Photo: Maria Girgenti

Round 6 - CAIRNS & DISTRICT RUGBY LEAGUE A GRADE
Ivanhoes 28 def Edmonton 22, Mossman-Port Douglas 30 def Southern Suburbs 12, Yarrabah 34 def Cairns Brothers 32, Innisfail 16 drew Tully 16, Kangaroos 22 def Mareeba 6. Bye: Atherton

Reserve Grade

Ivanhoes 22 drew Edmonton 22, Mossman-Port Douglas 22 def Southern Suburbs 18, Innisfail 22 def Tully 12, Yarrabah 38 def Cairns Brothers 26, Kangaroos 38 def Mareeba 14

Under 18s

Ivanhoes 28 def Edmonton 20, Cairns Brothers 30 def Yarrabah 28

Ladies touch 

Ivanhoes 2 def Edmonton 1, Mossman-Port Douglas 1 def Southern Suburbs 0, Innisfail 2 drew with Tully 2, Kangaroos 2 def Mareeba 0

Points: Kangaroos 9, Cairns Brothers 8, Atherton 8, Ivanhoes 7, Mossman-Port Douglas 6, Innisfail 6,Yarrabah 6, Edmonton 4, Southern Suburbs 3, Mareeba 2, Tully 1

Round 7 - CDRL May 25/26

Saturday - Edmonton v Southern Suburbs (Petersen Park, Edmonton); Innisfail v Ivanhoes (Callendar Park, Innisfail) 

Sunday - Kangaroos v Atherton (Vico Oval, Mooroobool); Cairns Brothers v Mareeba (Stan Williams Park, Cairns) and Yarrabah v Tully Bye: Atherton Bye: Mossman-Port Douglas