Mackay and District A-Grade Rugby League has kicked off a historic new season, with two Townsville-based teams joining the Components Only Men’s A-Grade competition for the first time.
Souths Sharks had the honour of heading north to face Townsville Brothers in round one of the season, a prospect head coach Wayne Barnett relished.
“We’re pretty lucky to be the first club to go up and play them," Barnett said.
"A lot of the boys were sending me messages about how tough it’s going to be, and we know they’re a strong squad coming off the championship last season.”
Brothers head coach Roy Baira also expressed the excitement his team felt entering the new season.
“Everyone is a bit excited with the news of the draw coming out and starting footy, Baira said.
"We’re excited to experience the Mackay comp, with different players in a different League.”
The Sharks would ultimately lose out to Brothers 32-12 in round one; two late tries from the hosts sealing the result. Other round one results saw Carltons Devils defeat Townsville Norths 48-10, and Mackay Brothers defeat Mackay Magpies 32-12.
Round two saw Souths Sharks back at home against competition heavyweights Wests Tigers. Wests opened the scoring through Daniel Boyd as he linked up with Jake Eden on a long-range breakaway up the middle of the ruck. Quick hands put Sheldon Bobbitt over to double Wests’ lead which they took with them into the halftime break.
Souths would make a game of it early in the second half with Jacob Rivett crossing out on the right edge, but Wests’ Kurt Wiltshire would go on a tear, bagging the next three consecutive tries all for himself, ensuring South’s late try was all but consolation.
“We were clunky, but I thought it was a good hit out for us,” Wests Tigers’ captain Jake Eden said.
“We have two new halves eager to get their hands on the ball, but it’ll come together. He (Kurt Wiltshire) is a gun, he is a freak, there’s no reason he couldn’t be scoring three tries a game, he’s just come from a full time NRL squad, he’s got the runs on the board.
“We’ve been training for the last six weeks, since before they announced the return of the season, it’s just keeping the players healthy through this shortened season. We play Townsville Brothers the last round before the finals, they’ll be the team to beat.”
Meanwhile in the other results for round two, Mackay Brothers got a huge 54-4 win in their match with Townsville Norths and Townsville Brothers downed Mackay Carltons Devils 32-10.