Queensland Cup - Round 7 - Review

Typically understated Toowoomba coach John Dixon used Saturday?s blockbusting 34-26 win over Redcliffe to find an answer he?d dearly been looking for.

``We?re going alright,?? he deduced, having just coached the team to its sixth straight win, against previously undefeated opposition.

``The story so far had been that we?d come off some convincing wins, but didn?t know if we were going alright. So now we know, yeah we?re alright.??

From the same school of excitability as Broncos stablemate Wayne Bennett, Dixon labelled Redcliffe ``only one peak in the mountain range, with many more to climb??.

It was fitting then that the Clydesdales should grab a slice of the competition lead on top of the Great Dividing Range, both teams thrilling a strong crowd at Clive Berghofer Stadium.

Fullback Nick Parfitt was the hero, scoring two of his three tries in the final eight minutes to amend a late 26-24 lead to Redcliffe.

Sitting amid $2.5 million worth of recent refurbishments, fans also witnessed the return of Ben Ikin from hernia troubles, with the former international playing centre.

The game was described as a step up on anything else seen at Queensland Cup level this year, an opinion Dixon agreed with after some considered thought.

``It was first versus second on the ladder, so a good game was always on the cards,?? he said.

``There was talk about Redcliffe going through the season undefeated and while I don?t attribute that to them, I think it?s been made clear there?s a lot more footy to be played this year, not just including our two sides.

``The result helps our confidence, but at the same time, I hardly think Redcliffe will be walking around kicking stones.??

Toowoomba?s only concern from the game was a knee injury to Tom Learoyd, while Carl Webb played through the game despite falling ill before kick-off.

Redcliffe made a number of late changes to its team, promoting winger Joel Barnes after strong efforts in Mixwell Cup and bringing forward Andrew Wynyard back from injury.

The Dolphins led 24-14 shortly after halftime courtesy of a double by New Zealand international Brian Jellick. Fellow centre Damien Richters kicked five-from-five for the visitors.

Both team next play on Saturday, May 8, when Redcliffe hosts 2002 grand final opponent Ipswich and Toowoomba travels to Rockhampton to face Central.

TOOWOOMBA 34 (N Parfitt 3, D Stagg, B Barnes, N Costigan tries; N Parfitt 5 goals) beat REDCLIFFE 26 (B Jellick 2, J Barnes, G Flugge tries; N Parfitt 5 goals). ---------- CURIOUS commodity Walter Imo has made an immediate impact on the Queensland Cup, crossing for two tries as Easts out-foxed North Queensland 43-30 on Saturday.

Although shunning the red and white in favour of black and gold, Imo could certainly lay claim to a similar lifestyle as namesake `Where?s Wally?.

Just as the speedy three-quarter arrived unannounced on live television for his State League debut, he has made a habit of popping up in the weirdest of places.

Two years ago the Braybrook College product poked his head out at the National Schoolboy Championships in Quenbeyan, representing Victoria.

His reward for playing strongly at the titles was to represent Emerging States against South Africa. The game was played in Perth.

Picked up afterwards by the Melbourne Storm, Imo spent 2003 with feeder club Brisbane Norths, becoming a regular try scorer, but failing to crack Queensland Cup.

This year Imo opted to switch to Easts after being overlooked by the Devils in all three grades.

Still a teenager, he his risen from colts to Mixwell Cup to Queensland Cup in rapid succession, posting five tries in the last three weeks alone.

``He?s originally from Melbourne. The Storm had him and then let him go,?? Easts coach Michael Booth said.

``Go figure.??

Imo scored both his tries against the Young Guns from kicks by hooker Trent Young, Easts? best in the 13-point win.

Halfback Dane Campbell also played well, kicking seven-from-seven, potting a field goal and crossing for a try. Campbell had previously trialed unsuccessfully with North Queensland for a contract.

Coach Booth said a feature of the win was the improved play of Darren Smith, complementing the youthful ball-players with veteran nous around the ruck.

``He put his hand up this week,?? Booth said.

``Darren really led by example. He?s starting to learn what the blokes around him can do.

``As he gets more familiar with the guys and they start to get better, he?s only going to play better himself.??

After scoring 108 points in their previous two games, the Young Guns trailed from the outset at Langlands Park.

Two tries in succession by Rod Jensen brought North Queensland close at 30-36, but Easts found the energy to kick clear.

North Queensland hosts the Norths Devils at Dairy Farmers Stadium on May 8, while Easts play Tweed Heads at the Piggabeen Complex the following afternoon.

EASTS 43 (W Imo 2, R Maller, M Pearce, I Kaufmann, D Campbell, D Smith tries; D Cambell 7 goals; D Campbell field goal) beat NORTH QUEENSLAND 30 (H Vaa'sa 2, R Jensen 2, D Fauimu, M Scott tries; D Myles 3 goals). ------- A WINNING coach and a soothsayer. Gary Greinke proved to be both on Sunday as Norths punished Wynnum 40-14 at Bishop Park.

Only two weeks ago Greinke disobeyed the coaching manual and heaped praise on young fullback Greg Inglis, saying he could be the ``next David Peachey??.

The 17-year-old had just scored three tries in colts and Greinke was arguably more excited about the performance than a thumping 42-16 win over Central in Queensland Cup.

On Sunday Greinke put his money where his mouth was, injecting Inglis into his elite squad against Wynnum.

He was justly rewarded. Inglis scored two sensational tries and was named players? player as the Devils halted the Seagulls? four-game winning streak.

With the same running style as Peachey, Inglis posted an eye-catching solo try from 30m out when he eluded a handful of Wynnum defenders, showing elements of both strength and evasion.

Inglis also snatched a kick from the air to complete the double and set winger Derek Fletcher up for another four-pointer with a great open-field burst.

``Hopefully we?ll be able to hang on to him for our Queensland Cup side,?? Greinke said, eluding that Melbourne may pluck the teenager for its NRL squad.

``It was a great debut. His try from 30 out was brilliant.??

Despite its winning run, Wynnum started the match as underdogs, having lost forwards Grant Wooden, John Bruce, Cameron Durnford and Brett Seawright.

Conversely, Norths retained the services of Test prop Rodney Howe for another week and along with Pat Gardner, he helped rip into the depleted Gulls.

The score at halftime was only 16-10 to the home side, but in the second half Norths converted the opportunities it had earlier squandered.

Other strong performers for the Devils were forwards Nathan Friend and Jeremy Smith, and half Marty Turner, who had been sorely missed since breaking his hand earlier this year.

For Wynnum, hooker Royce Simms was a constant danger, however strikeweapon and fullback Jimmy Ahmat was well contained by his Devils counterparts.

Norths next play on May 8 against North Queensland in Townsville, with Fifita Moala (shoulder) and Aaron Bulow (report) in doubt.

Wynnum hosts Souths Logan at Kougari Oval the very next day.

NORTHS 40 (G. Inglis 2, D. Fletcher 2, C. Cronk, N. Friend, G. Turner tries; M Turner 6 goals) beat WYNNUM 14 (S. Phillips, E. Hei Hei, D. Durnford tries; G Bourke goal). ------ CENTRAL has denied valiant Brothers Valleys its first ever Queensland Cup win, storming home for a 38-28 win at O?Callaghan Park.

The Comets had originally led 20-10 at halftime, but were reeled in by the home side, which then led 28-26 as the clock wound down.

With the game on the line, Central conjured up two magical tries from kicks, one to Toby Wallace and the other to Shannon Fish.

A relieved Comets coach Neale Crow was quick to express how lucky his team had been in collecting the two premiership points.

``Brothers Valleys played some really good footy out there,?? Crow offered.

``We didn?t play well over 80 minutes and they came at us.

``There was an intercept at the end where they could have scored, but they turned it over. It remains to be seen whether he would have out-paced our guy to the line, but it would?ve made it interesting.??

Remarkably, Brothers Valleys coach Gary O?Brien kept just four players in the same jerseys as the previous week, searching to break the club?s duck in 2004.

Yet if anything it was Chris Essex, the main constant in the Blues side, who kept powering forward with victory in sight.

Although his quest was ultimately unsuccessful, the club did appease its fans with success in Mixwell Cup. A 23-18 win over Ipswich was Brothers Valleys first win in any grade this year.

For Central, Crow said the highlight of the win was pleasing performances from debutants John Tamanika, Mitch Whyatt and Mick Esdale.

The Comets are hopeful of having captain terry Benson back from injury for their May 8 clash with Toowoomba in Rockhampton, while Brothers-Valleys travel to Burleigh on May 9.

CENTRAL 38 (C. Rothery, W. Rothery, S. Fish, W. Phillis, J. Wogand, T. Wallace, J. Tamanika tries; G Parle 3, J Wogand 2 goals) beat BROTHERS VALLEYS 28 (S. Daylight 2, A. Denny 2, S. Maguire; P Dall 4 goals). ------ IPSWICH players headed to Sunday?s Caloundra Races with extra spending money, after picking up their first win bonus of the year against Tweed Heads.

Trevor Gillmeister?s Jets had planned their jaunt to the Sunshine Coast well in advance, but only the most ardent fans would have predicted his team would topple the Seagulls 38-8 on Saturday night.

Winless in six starts and coming of a 58-6 thrashing against North Queensland, Ipswich played like a team reborn as they established a 22-4 halftime lead at Bendigo Bank Oval.

The ability to control possession was the most notable difference from the Jets? previous offerings, with five-eighth Brendon Lindsay seemingly striking a rich vein of form after a few forgettable weeks.

``The boys had a few beers after the game and it was good to see a smile on their faces,?? coach Gillmeister said, headed up the Bruce Highway.

``They played how I know they can. We?ve self-destructed in the games against other sides.

``There was no pushing passes and we just did all the little things better.??

Adding credence to the win, Ipswich finished with injuries to Kyle Warren (knee) and Gordon Rattler (collarbone). The Jets were already playing without linchpin forwards Jamie Tomlinson and Danny McAllister.

Still, the unrelenting Gillmeister said his charges could have ``whacked 12 to 20 more?? points on Tweed and vowed to keep improving his revitalised squad.

Tweed meanwhile, tasted its fourth loss in succession, leaving it in ninth spot after being joint competition leaders in round three.

The Seagulls next play on May 9 at home against Easts, while Ipswich has the daunting task of facing Redcliffe at Dolphin Oval on May 8, coming off the ?Phins first loss of the year.

IPSWICH 38 (S West 2, J Smallwood 2, N Cowburn, A Connolly, R Bird tries; S West 5 goals) beat TWEED HEADS 8 (B Cupples, M King tries). -------- HALFBACK Brent `Jockey? McConnell has whipped home Burleigh for its fourth straight win, scoring a vital 80m intercept try as the Bears beat Souths Logan 42-28 on Saturday.

The final margin at Davies Park flattered Burleigh, with the score level at 28-all midway through the second half.

Indeed, it wasn?t until McConnell?s timely try with five minutes remaining that Burleigh moved to a safe distance from the spirited Magpies.

A further try on the hooter expanded the lead and saved the few remaining fingernails on coach Rick Stone?s hands.

``There were a few nervous moments there, most definitely,?? said Stone.

``We had a few silly individual errors that led to tries and (Souths Logan halfback) Jace Van Dijk?s kicking in general play was very, very good.

``After the big effort against Norths the previous week, our performance was a little down, but the attitude remained good and I can?t be too critical.

``Ultimately when it went down to the wire, they really showed they wanted to two points.??

Tainting the afternoon was a shoulder injury to winger Mark Wilson, the scorer of two tries after being elevated from Mixwell Cup duty. The former New South Wales Country player is likely to miss a month of football.

Meanwhile, Souths Logan will enter this weekend?s bye with boosted spirits, having displayed some of the vast potential its young squad possesses.

Aside from the consistently strong Van Dijk, fullback Nathan Roe and lock Bob Blair were a thorn in the Burleigh side. Hooker Zeb Kyle and ex-Sydney Roosters forward Aaron Lewis also stood up for the ?Pies.

Stone said that should Souths Logan add a few more experienced players, they will challenge the top sides in the competition.

Despite not making the finals since 1996, Souths Logan provided three graduates for last Friday?s trans Tasman Test. Australian coach Wayne Bennett and New Zealand backs Clinton Toopi and Francis Meli have all worn the Magpies strip.

In total, the Test match featured eight players (not including Bennett) who were at least partly developed by the Queensland Cup.

Burleigh next plays on Sunday, May 9 when it hosts Brothers Valleys at Pizzey Park, while Souths Logan travels to Wynnum the same afternoon.

BURLEIGH 42 (M Wilson 2, A Cook 2, R Cressbrook, K Flint, B McConnell, R Gundry tries; R Cressbrook 5 goals) beat SOUTHS LOGAN 28 (T Wulf 2, B Blair, D Glase, A Lewis tries; J Van Dijk 3, A Simpson goals).