New kids on the block Valleys Diehards took no time to flex their muscle in the BHP Premiership with a gritty 18-14 win over the North Queensland Gold Stars at Barlow Park.
The Gold Stars showed spirited attack in the initial 20 minutes, with a combination of strong attacking runs and adequate defence, taking advantage of opportunities presented.
Once the initial nerves and settling-in period was done, the Diehards controlled the flow of the football, eventually proving to be the better team at controlling the play and coping with the slightly hot and humid conditions.
The first half was evenly shared on the scoreboard, however Valleys dominated procession and territory, with sustained periods of time camped inside the attacking half 30 metres from their try line.
North Queensland had the early run with two tries in first 17 minutes.
Fullback and captain Romy Teitzel opened the scoring with a soft try off the back of a penalty earlier in the set, crossing in the corner to set up an early lead. A wobbly conversion attempt followed, hitting the upright and being waved away.
The Gold Stars combined well given limited training time together, working well together ensuring their completion was high and error rates were kept low in the first half.
They settled in and played strong attacking football after the restart, producing many opportunities resulting in a try to centre Lauren Moss at the 17-minute mark. Up by eight points, an upset was looming.
Valleys settled and found their pace and combined to produce a stronger attacking game, dominating possession as well as territory.
The attacking line clicked, resulting in Emma Sykes crossing out wide for the Diehards to put them on the board. The conversion attempt was missed with four points still the margin.
Valleys had the run for the remainder of the half, heading to the half-time break with scores locked at 8-8 after centre Meg Ward (pictured) crossed to draw level.
The second half featured a stronger performance by the Diehards.
After sustained pressure and a prolonged attack on the Gold Stars line, second rower Kody House crossed in the grandstand corner to put the Diehards up by four. Ward converted and the margin grew to six.
The towering restart kick placed the Diehards under pressure with the take knocked on, allowing the home side to go on the attack.
Mateeka Nielson crossed on the short side to put the her side back in the hunt. Teitzel converted to tie the game up once more.
From then, fatigue started to take its toll on the Gold Stars as they fell away, allowing the Diehards to make easy metres and take the score out to 18-14 after Queensland Reds-convert Natassja Purontakanen crossed in the 52nd minute.
The Diehards were able to hold onto that slim four point lead for the remainder of the half to win their debut match in the BHP Premiership.
After the game, Teitzel felt they had performed adequately, however gave no excuses for failing to control the ball.
“It came down to fatigue, but there's no excuses... we are all North Queensland girls and we are used to the heat," the Gold Stars captain said.
Teitzel acknowledged the difficulty faced by a team combined with players from a geographically diverse region like North Queensland.
“We played well. We did what we aimed to do, but coming from three different regions is difficult," Teitzel said.
“Coming together more in the future will build us as the season goes on, but it’s a good start to the season, but a disappointing finish to the game.”
The Barlow Park crowd was appreciative of the skills on display as both teams showed determination and great football skills.
The stronger and better-drilled Diehards proved the worthy winners, although the Gold Stars pushed them hard for the victory.
North Queensland are set to regroup to chase their first win against Central Queensland Capras in Rockhampton next Saturday.
Match: Capras v Stars
Round 2 -
Venue: Browne Park, Rockhampton
Valleys host West Brisbane Panthers at Grange.
Match: Diehards v Panthers
Round 2 -
Venue: Emerson Park, Brisbane