Atherton keep finals hopes alive with win over Brothers

Atherton Roosters dug deep to keep their finals chances alive after a dominant 32-4 victory over Cairns Brothers in the elimination semi final at Barlow Park on Sunday.

The win gives the Roosters another bite at the cherry and sets up a knockout clash with Yarrabah this Sunday, while the defeat has ended the season of Cairns Brothers.

Atherton's James Coyle is dumped to the ground by two Cairns Brothers players. Photo: Maria Girgenti
Atherton's James Coyle is dumped to the ground by two Cairns Brothers players. Photo: Maria Girgenti

Atherton's solid defence caused an error from the Brethren in the opening set of six.

Shortly after, Atherton launched an attack and they took an early 6-0 lead when Mae Mani barged his way over the line for the first try and Nigel Woodleigh booted the extras.

Poor discipline from Cairns Brothers gifted Atherton consecutive sets of six which presented them with another scoring opportunity.

Soon after, Graham Clark Jnr, back from injury, scored from close range and the extras added by Woodleigh put Atherton out to a 12-0 lead.

Cairns Brothers looked set to post their first points with some promising play out to the left, but weren't anticipating the deft actions of Woodleigh who intercepted and scooped up the ball to race away for a breakaway try under the posts.

A penalty goal by Woodleigh just before halftime had Cairns Brothers fans stunned as Atherton went into the sheds with a convincing 18-0 lead at the break. 

In the second half, Cairns Brothers opened up their account through Luke Fleming. These were to be their only points of the match after a wayward conversion.

Atherton increased their lead to 20-4 when another penalty goal was slotted by Woodleigh.

Tries to Pio Seci and five-eighth Jermaine Pedro, along with two more conversions by Woodleigh capped off the victory for Atherton at fulltime.

Atherton's high flying Fijian Pio Seci proved difficult for the Cairns Brothers defence. Photo: Maria Girgenti
Atherton's high flying Fijian Pio Seci proved difficult for the Cairns Brothers defence. Photo: Maria Girgenti

Atherton coach Graham Clark said he was impressed with his players who did it tough, but said they were good defensively.

He paid tribute to his fullback Nick Pratten and to Mani who was outstanding.  

Clark Jnr was rested due to a niggling hamstring injury and played for the last 20 minutes.

"He seems to have pulled up alright, but we didn't really need him today which was a blessing and hopefully he will be fit to play in our crucial game this Sunday," Clark said.

Matthew Whybird suffered an ankle injury, but Clark said he was overall he was pleased his side came out unscathed.

The highly anticipated semi final clash between Innisfail and Yarrabah was emotionally charged and full of drama, tension and controversy. 

There is always plenty of feeling when these two teams come up against each other and this game was no different.

Things didn't get off to a great start after one player from each team were given marching orders to the sin bin after an on-field scuffle.

This unfortunately set the tone for the game as three Seahawks players and two Leprechauns players also found themselves in the bin, while Yarrabah played one man down for most of the second half after a send off in the 39th minute.  

It was Innisfail who knuckled down and got on with the game with the first try to Fred Koraba followed by four pointers to Robert Haren and Lata Fakalelu which put them out to a 16-0 lead.

The Seahawks found good momentum close to halftime with a try to Menmuny Murgha, followed soon after with a four pointer to Cyprian Mossman and a successful conversion by Jayden Kynuna had them trailing 10-16 at halftime.

Early in the second half, Yarrabah got themselves within two when their winger Kynuna found the line out wide after a slick pass by Hezron Murgha.

An eight-point try was awarded when Elia Mooka scored as a direct result of a late challenge from a Yarrabah player and the extras were added by Michael Morton.

A four-pointer to Den Waireg-Ingui all but sealed the 28-14 victory for Innisfail before the referee called time on the game in the 57th minute due to concerns tensions between players would erupt. 

Innisfail coach Leon Hallie said he was happy and proud of his side for keeping their discipline.

Hallie said after last week he knew it would be a fiery contest with lots of niggles, but overall was pleased with the way his players handled things. 

Waireg-Ingui handled himself well throughout the game and bounced back with a great try.

"While it wasn't ideal circumstances to play footy, at the end of the day we came to get the win which we did," Hallie said. 

Hallie said there were a couple of sore bodies after the game, but hoped they were not too serious and said he would review his team's line up later in the week.

Hallie conceded they would have to be much better when they play Mossman-Port Douglas this week as they vie for a spot in the grand final.

In the Reserve grade elimination final, Cairns Brothers ended Southern Suburbs season with a 54-20 win.

The qualifying final in Reserve grade saw Mossman-Port Douglas snatch a 36 - 32 win over Atherton in a thriller which was decided in golden point after scores were locked at full time 32-32.

Atherton ended Innisfail's finals run in the Under 18 elimination final with a 24-18 win.

The Under 18 qualifying final was also a nail-biter for fans which saw Edmonton run out one point winners over Cairns Brothers 33-32.

Week 2 - Finals - Sunday, September, 8 - Barlow Park Cairns

Under 18

10am - Cairns Brothers v Atherton (elimination)

11.30am - Ivanhoes v Edmonton 

Reserve Grade

1pm – Atherton v Cairns Brothers (elimination)

2.30pm - Yarrabah v Mossman-Port Douglas

A Grade

4pm – Yarrabah v Atherton (elimination)

5.30pm – Mossman-Port Douglas v Innisfail

Main image: Atherton's Graham Clark Jnr proved too strong for Cairns Brothers defence on the way to scoring a try. Photo: Maria Girgenti