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Crushers grind out gutsy win in hot start

An autumn heatwave matched the action hotting up on the field for the opening round of the Rugby League Brisbane Open Men's Division 3 North competition.

Albany Creek Crushers were made to work for their 18-12 victory at Les Hughes Sporting Complex on Saturday, having been pushed all the way by a gutsy Pine Central Holy Spirit Hornets side in a game that went down to the wire.

Superbly led by halfback Ben Gaunt, the Crushers braved the oppressive heat to pinch the two points away from home and get off to a solid start to the season.

However, it was the home side who drew first blood, crossing in the 12th minute of play under the sticks.

Both sets of forwards deserve a standing ovation getting through a mountain of work in the stifling conditions and it was some solid Crushers lead-up work by workhorse forward Michael Timmins, who had the visitors in some fairly handy field position.

Five-eighth Kaleb Murray then took advantage and stepped his way past some tired Hornets defence to cross under the posts to register the first points of the afternoon.

A glut of dropped ball was frustrating both coaches, however Albany Creek appeared to be getting the upper-hand up the middle with some of their big men in George Frost-Harder and Michael Case.

With that handy field position and with half time looming, the visitors almost pinched another four-pointer before the break, however some solid Hornets defence ended what was a gruelling first half with the Crushers heading into the sheds leading 12-6.

Albany Creek returned to the second half with a simple but effective implementation of their game plan - kick up field and turn the Hornets' big men around - which Gaunt executed perfectly.

In the 50th minute of play, the halfback was rewarded for his five-star performance on the field with a superb individual try that caught the Hornets napping, weaving his magic to sneak under the defence to shoot out to a handy 18-6 lead

However, the Hornets would simply not go away.

Forwards Kai Schiffke and Nga Moke-Takiari were superb in a losing side, giving as good as they got in defence.

Not too be outdone by the Crushers pack, the Hornets continued to make some easy meters with the pendulum swinging ever so slightly back in favour of the home side.

The persistence paid off, with the Hornets crossing in the corner.

A sideline conversion saw Pine Central only trail by six points with three minutes left on the clock.

A penalty right on full-time to the Hornets saw a pulsating last few seconds take place that could have seen the home side snatch a late draw.

However, the Crushers defence hung on in a thriller in what was a highly entertaining game of rugby league.

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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