Rising to the test

Central Highlands are 2011 Pill Shield title holders after winning 24-22 over the CQ Brahmans at the weekend.
Central Highlands are 2011 Pill Shield title holders after winning 24-22 over the CQ Brahmans at the weekend.

CENTRAL Highlands has taken out a decisive 24-22 win against a heavy CQ Brahmans representative pack from Rockhampton at the weekend.

With the game running point for point throughout much of the 80 minutes, it took some stiff defence and spot-on set plays by the Highlands outfit to finish the game on top.

The win also cemented Central Highlands as title holders of the Pill Shield, an annual trophy presented to the winner of the inter-region match-ups.

Brahmans’ coach Frank Busby complimented the Highlanders on their performance as a “good little side”.

He further said what was lacking in his own side was depth and experience.

“We seemed to do well then drop the game plan – just too many young players and second-string players,” Busby said.

“It was a brand new pack and we would have had probably six or seven under-19 players in the side.”

He said that after winning by just one point in last year’s encounter with Central Highlands, his junior Brahmans line-up was out to make up for lost ground. But without all the team mechanisms working in sync, he said they could never grapple a definite advantage.

“It’s hard if your forwards aren’t going forward and making the yards but you’ve just got to play with what you have got,” Busby said.

Highlands’ coaching spokesperson Joel Johnston said in all it was a solid win against a routinely tough opposition but it wasn’t until the second half that CH started to show true colours.

“I thought the ball control and continuity was good but it was probably our set-pieces which won us the game... that last 60 minutes they really started to mark up,” Johnston said.

He added that the only definite training point was the side’s “one-percenters” where the ball could have been held instead of pushing the final pass.

“That was the only real issue, there wasn’t much to it,” Johnston said.

It was a one-two finish in the points stakes with Capella fly-half Wes Grayson picking up three points for the Highlands, second-rower Andrew Sellick from Capella two points and Emerald’s Manny Smith one point after a solid display in the centres.

In a curtain-raiser to Central Highlands main game, Emerald Rams snuck through for a tight win over Barcaldine Boars in the Rams’ final pre-season trial game before the start of the regular season next month against Moranbah in Moranbah.

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