The opening round of the In Safe Hands Cup finally got under way after nearly four months of COVID restrictions, so a bit of wet weather was not going to be an issue for all eight clubs.
All four fixtures hung in the balance at half time with the largest margin being eight.
Despite the conditions, a large crowd of socially distant supporters turned out at Emerson Park for the encounter between Valleys Diehards and Pine Rivers Bears.
No doubt the presence of former State of Origin and NRL super star Scott Prince was the talking point, but the biggest draw card was rugby league in its beautiful self.
Valleys, last year’s grand finalists, came up against the new kids from Pine Rivers.
Perhaps nerves and the big occasion had the Bears a little bewildered when Valleys opened the scoring in the first minute after a blindside play started by hooker Jack Meirs with a short ball to Rashaun Denny who scooted 30 metres before sending a super pass to the rampaging back rower Nesta Watene to go over untouched. Prince converted what would be the first of all attempts being successful.
Soon after, the Bears were getting into their work and were rewarded with a try after some quick hands found Arthur Brown over in the grandstand corner.
The conversion was waved away and Valleys hit back after the dancing feet of Diehards big man Junior Sefefino from 10 out saw him cross the line.
It was try-for-try as the Bears were to score again; this time after a banana grubber from five-eighth Hayden Herbeert sat nicely in the in-goal for the acrobatic fullback Tim Tupo to pounce.
Once again, the home side went down the blindside. A cut-out pass from Jaydn Baker hit the flying left winger Joey Peato who tiptoed down the sideline before sending the ball back inside to support player Denny to touch down. Again, Prince was on song with the ball and tee.
They don’t come much bigger than Bailey Butler and he crashed over under the cross bar and at halftime, the score was Valleys 18 with Pine Rivers 16.
Valleys once again opened the scoring in the first few minutes after oranges with a dart from dummy half a metre from the line as Liam Horne burrowed over and replacement hooker Joey Watene then bounced off four defenders to scramble over for a meat pie.
With the Bears fading after little possession, Prince started to weave his magic.
The fact that Pine Rivers had a man in the sin bin didn’t help. Tries once again from Baker and Watene saw the Diehards race to 48 points, with all eight tries being converted. Two late tries in the right corner for Pine Rivers to Hayden Potter and another to Arthur Brown put some respect to the final score which was 48-26.
Valleys coach Nathan Hughes put the win down to their line defence.
"We have worked on that all week knowing the Bears would come at us," Hughes said.
Bears coach Adrian Rouse was reasonably happy with his side.
"I thought we put in a great effort across the board. Their a quality side and we will learn a lot from that," Rouse said.
In other games, West Brisbane held off Brighton at Brighton 20-10.
Wynnum Juniors broke away from the Normanby Hounds to win 24- 14.
The Carina Tigers opened their season with a solid win against the Bulimba Bulldogs 34-20.
Wynnum 24 (Matt Milson, Junior Pauga, Mitch McMillan, Ton Farr, Max Plath, Lachlan Perry tries; Junior Pauga, Max Plath goals); def Normanby 14 (Edward Downing-Brown 2 tries; Brandon Roberts 3 goals) at Bert St Clair Oval.
Reserve Grade: Wynnum 42 def Normanby 6
Carina 34 (Zak Taibi, Will Bohning, Linc Port, Matt Richards, Jake Elmore, Connor Carey tries; Brandon Torpy 5 goals) def Bulimba 4 (Michael Nasari try) at Totally Workwear Stadium.
Reserve Grade: Carina 30 def Bulimba 20
Valleys 48 (Jayden Baker 2, Nesta Watene 2, Rashaun Denny, Junior Sefefino, Liam Horne, Joey Watene tries; Scott Prince 8 goals) def Pine Rivers 26 (Arthur Brown 2, Hayden Potter, Tim Tupou, Arthur Brown, Bailey Butler tries; Hayden Potter 3 goals) at Emerson Park.
Reserve Grade: Valleys 70 def Pine Rivers 8
West Brisbane Panthers 20 (Michael Walit, Tony Tumusa, Jack Walters, Ben Mathiou tries; Reece Braun 2 goals) def Brighton 10 (Joseph Small, Brock Nelson tries; Michael O'Keefe goal) at Jim Lawrie Oval.
Reserve Grade: West Brisbane Panthers 34 def Brighton 20