Top guns still rate 'dales

Minor premier North Queensland will not discard Toowoomba as a title threat, despite smacking the Clydesdales 44-0 at Dairy Farmers Stadium on Saturday.

Having led the Young Guns to top ranking on their first journey to the Queensland Wizard Cup finals, coach Grant Bell refused to be smug about the unexpectedly large win over his rivals.

The shutout allowed North Queensland to maintain first spot on the ladder by a single win while also stealing the best defensive record from Burleigh by a mere two points. Furthermore, the outcome denied Toowoomba the chance to host next Saturday?s sudden death semi against Redcliffe.

?But I wouldn?t question their finals credentials at all,? said Bell.

?There?s no doubt Toowoomba is down on confidence with the disruptions to their side and it will be interesting to see who they have available next week. If their playing stocks are right, they?ll certainly create some havoc.?

The absence of playmakers Berrick Barnes (NRL commitments) and Stuart Kelly (injury) certainly had its effect on the Clydesdales, with Joe Clarke also out suspended for a month.

However it was defence more than attack that caused concerns for the Toowoomba hierarchy, having conceded more points than all but four teams in the competition.

North Queensland zoomed ahead 26-0 at halftime and didn?t let the foot off the pedal, benefiting from the added injection of NRL regulars Shane Tronc (pictured), David Faiumu and Rod Jensen. The Young Guns could have posted an even larger margin, but converted just four of nine tries.

?An embarrassing loss,? assessed Toowoomba coach John Dixon.

?We were completely outplayed in every aspect of the game.?

Injuries to key Brisbane players and a further loss for the Broncos didn?t help matters for Toowoomba either.

Meanwhile, North Queensland has been told it will be unable to field the likes of Tronc, Faiumu, Jensen, Micheal Luck or Brenton Bowen in the finals, after a QRL Board meeting decided to uphold existing eligibility rules.

Under the present guidelines, players must feature in an equal or greater number of Queensland Cup fixtures to NRL games to qualify.

?At the end of the day the rule was in place beforehand,? said Bell.

?We?d always planned with the attitude that if the rule says so, in all likelihood we wouldn?t have those guys. There?s no use concentrating on things we can?t affect.?

North Queensland has a weekend off before the major semi while Toowoomba plays Redcliffe at Dolphin Oval at 2pm on Saturday.

NORTH QUEENSLAND 44 (Dean Payne 2, Jason Barsley, David Myles, Brent McConnell, Michael Luck, Leigh McWilliams, Clint Amos, Gavin Cooper tries; Neil Sweeney 2, Brent McConnell, Gavin Cooper goals)



Special thanks to the QRL website for another fantastic article.