THE Central Queensland Comets team is charging into round one of Queensland Rugby League after a confidence-boosting 18-12 victory over Mackay Cutters in Emerald at the weekend.
The trial game was tipped as the last chance for both teams to finalise preparations ahead of their season’s opening QRL clashes. The Cutters team was left short with key positions out due to injury.
Cutters’ coach Anthony Seibold said he was reassured their playing depth was more than capable of matching it with the best.
“We were really courageous,” he said.
“We were missing eight starting players, so it put a bit of challenge to our fringe players and those from our local competition to step up, prepare well and show a really positive attitude and I think we did that really well.”
For the Comets’ its test of patience proved the difference as the pressure mounted on its own goal line early in the first half. The result was an 8-nil score to the Cutters who capitalised on good field position.
Comets’ coach Wayne Barnett said cleaning up their game around the ruck will certainly be one of their main training points.
“The ball groundwork and the ball retention around the ruck were pretty bad tonight and the referee was certainly cracking down on not playing the ball with your foot so that’s something we’re going to train harder on,” he said.
Cutters’ Seibold said consistency in the ruling was the sticking point.
“To be honest he was a little bit unfair to both sides in regards to that. I think we both gave away three or four penalties each with possession and I think he probably overdid that. But as long as they are consistent with the rule my gut feeling is that after three to four weeks it will probably go by the wayside.”
The Comets’ breakthrough came from a try to forward Mark Applegarth who crashed over the line close to the posts just before half-time.
With the conversion successful, the Cutters still held a narrow two point lead going into the break.
Tempers simmered on both sides as the second half got under way but it was the Comets players who were making their mark on the scoreboard.
Comets’ winger Dallas Williams found a hole down the sideline to skirt through for four points and extend their lead out to 18-8.
Despite a late half revival by the Cutters to narrow the scores 18-12 in the game’s dying stages, the experienced CQ outfit held on to keep their six point buffer intact.
On the line, Cutters’ coach Seibold was confident their defence was solid.
It was plays off the boot which had him worried.
“Bounce of the ball hurt us a little bit… out of the three tries two of them were from kicks, we’ve only had six tries scored against us in our two Queensland Cup trials and five of them have been from kicks,” he said.
“So defensively I’m really proud of the way the guys went about their business but we need to improve our kick reception.
“Considering we were down to our last 18 available players through injury and illness, I was really proud of the way they went about their business.
“We had a whole lot of young guys who were playing their first Queensland Cup level.
“I think they got a little bit fatigued and a little bit gun-shy once we had to do some repeat sets.
“But I think it was a very worthwhile trial for the Cutters because we found some players who can potentially step up when we do have injuries.”
Comets’ coach Barnett said the catalyst for them was keeping the possession.
“The turning point in the game was us holding the ball,” he said.
“We have the ball and they don’t – that’s a statistic you want to be winning on and I think when we started to get into the rhythm of things, we started to show our structures coming through.”
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