The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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The Rockhampton Leagues Club Central Queensland Comets put in a big fight but were just not good enough, going down to their more fancied opponents the Canberra Raiders 46-18 in the third and final match of the Minniecon & Burke Comets Pre-Season Challenge at Browne Park, Rockhampton on Saturday February, 26.
Former Raider David Nixon led the charge for the Comets scoring their first try off a slick backline play in the 17th minute with Nixon using great footwork and superior strength to power his way to the line.
Nixon's try and Jade Wogand's conversion brought the score back to 10-6 in the Raiders favor after the Raiders launched out of the blocks through tries to Michael Robertson and Beau Mundine.
Robertson's try in particular was a good one with him showing great speed down the left side to score in the corner.
The Raiders once again exploded onto the field in the second quarter with Simon Woolford leading the charge. Woolford's experience and creativity showed as he set up all four tries for his chargers in the second quarter.
Winger David Milne was impressive picking up the first two tries of the quarter finishing off two great attacking raids on the right, before the Comets hit back in the 35th minute through a try to replacement fullback Clint Wallace who darted through and scooped up a pin point grubber before touching down.
Wogand once again converted and with five minutes to go in the first half the Raiders led 20-12 and the contest looked tight however the Raiders weren't finished their assault.
Second rower Alan Rothery used brute strength to force his way over close to the line on the left and half back William Zillman backed up well after a break to score on the half time siren.
Five-eighth Todd Carney converted both tries from difficult positions to take the Raiders to a 32-12 lead at the break.
The score-line truly did not reflect the whole first half with the game being tight for 35 minutes of it with some great defence and attack from both sides.
The Comets come out in the second half determined not to let the Raiders walk all over them and went about enforcing themselves in a manner which stopped everything the Raiders could throw at them. It got the better of local boy Alan Rothery who received three warnings and got into a fight with Comets back rower Todd Brandon through frustration. The score-line remained 32-12 at three-quarter time.
Todd Carney made sure he put a stop to it in the final quarter steering the Raiders around the park very well and scoring a nice try in the 63rd minute which he converted to take the Raiders to a 38-12 lead with fifteen minutes left on the clock.
Three minutes later the Comets hit back when Wogand turned replacement prop Damien Wilkes inside close to the line. Wilkes powered his way through four defenders to crash over close to the posts. Wogand converted and there was a slight hope the Comets could come back at 38-18 behind.
However Raiders young gun Scotty Briggs made sure that hope was short lived going over for a try with ten minutes left on the clock.
Five minutes later a pin point bomb from Carney seen Michael Robertson leap high to grab his double in the corner. Carney missed both conversions from difficult positions and the Raiders run out 46-18 winners.
Wonderful match with a truck load of entertaining rugby league in both attack and defence and the Raiders and Comets must be congratulated for bringing high class rugby league players to the central Queensland region.
Combinations for both sides were rusty but gelled nicely as the match went on with the Comets halves Wogand and Aoterangi Herangi sparking up a great combination with lock David Nixon. The Comets second rowers Todd Brandon, Herewini Rangi and Trent Callaghan off the bench were also solid.
Clint Wallace, Andrew Dale and Fili Sofa were also strong for the Comets off the bench.
For the Raiders Michael Robertson, Marshall Chalk, David Milne and Todd Carney caused the Comets backline head aches all night while predictably Simon Woolford and Tyran Smith were great in the forwards. Prop Josh Miller and second rowers Michael Howell and captain Alan Rothery were also very strong.
Was a great afternoon of football for central Queensland with the crowd getting into it and enjoying themselves.
Before then, Comets squad members must go back and play for their local club sides in the CQ Extended League being played on Saturday, March 6 and Sunday, March 7 in the Central Queensland area with games taking place in Gladstone, Yeppon and Rockhampton.
Goals: Todd Carney 4 from 7, Michael Howell 1 from 2
Team: 1.Bronx Goodwin, 2.Michael Robertson, 3.Marshall Chalk, 4.Beau Mundine, 5.David Milne, 6.Todd Carney, 7.William Zillman, 18.Alex Blayden, 9.Simon Woolford, 10.Josh Miller, 11.Alan Rothery, 12.Michael Howell, 13.Tyran Smith. Bench: 14.Channon McAskill, 15.Steve McLean, 16.Adrian Purtell, 17.Scotty Briggs, 19.Jarred Lawrence
defeated CENTRAL COMETS 18 Tries: David Nixon (17th), Clint Wallace (35th), Damien Wilkes (66th)
Goals: Jade Wogand 3 from 3
Team: 1.Clint Rothery, 2.John Tamanika, 3.Tui McKenzie, 4.Matt Hill, 5.Jimmy McConachy, 6.Jade Wogand, 7.Aoterangi Herangi, 8.Kurt Cawdron, 9.Chris Fleming, 10.Kane Hardy, 11.Herewini Rangi, 12.Todd Brandon, 13.David Nixon. Bench: 14.Trent McKinlay, 15.Mick Esdale, 16.Mitch Wyatte, 17.Trent Callaghan, 18.Adam Geddes, 19.John Faupula, 20.Damien Wilkes, 21.Andrew Dale, 22.Ryan Peters, 23.Fili Sofa, 24.Tyron Haynes, 25.Damien Seibold, 29.Clint Wallace.
Venue: Browne Park Date: Sat Feb 26 8:00pm Referee: Rob Alexander/Steve Kanowski Half time: Canberra 32-12 First Try: Michael Robertson (Raiders - 3rd Minute) Harko's Points: 3-Alan Rothery(Raiders) 2-Jade Wogand(Comets) 1-David Nixon(Comets) Match Comments: Curtain Raisers: Under 15s - Emerald Tigers 40 defeated Gladstone Brothers 18 QR Comets Development Squad 46 defeated Fitzroy-Gracemere Sharks A-grade 16