Hard-earned points

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - SPORT -

THE Verri In­dus­tries Dou­glas Dragons bat­tled to a 1-1 draw with one of the com­pe­ti­tion favourites Mar­lin Coast on Sun­day.

It was a very hard-earned point and could well have been three points had the Dragons man­aged to hang on to the lead they gained through Ciaran Lemon’s first half penalty.

The match was a tor­rid af­fair with play be­ing stopped for about half an hour fol­low­ing a head clash that re­sulted in a Mar­lin Coast player swal­low­ing his tongue and later be­ing taken to hospi­tal.

There were in­jury prob­lems for the Dragons too with Lemon break­ing a bone in his wrist early in the match only to bravely carry on, score the Dragons goal and put in an out­stand­ing 90-minute per­for­mance.

Dou­glas, play­ing the first of their JCU “home” matches started brightly, hav­ing par­tic­u­lar suc­cess at­tack­ing down the right hand side.

Cap­tain Nick Tither, moved into mid­field for the clash, could have put the Dragons in front with an au­da­cious vol­ley from 40 yards hav­ing seen the Mar­lin Coast keeper out of po­si­tion but un­for­tu­nately the wind car­ried the ball slightly over the bar.

The game was then de­layed while the Mar­lin Coast player re­ceived treat­ment fol­low­ing a nasty head clash with Dragons coach Lo­gan Marsh.

Af­ter the restart the Dragons again were on the front foot. Joe Fox, play­ing out wide on the right, re­leased Lemon who was through on goal only for a late flag to halt play for off­side.

Af­ter the whis­tle, he was tack­led and in the process in­jured his wrist how­ever he bravely car­ried on to good ef­fect.

Mo­ments later he was again re­leased by Fox and this time he lured the de­fender into a chal­lenge with the ref­eree point­ing to the spot im­me­di­ately.

Lemon picked him­self up and calmly slot­ted home the penalty to give the Dragons a de­served lead.

Dou­glas were for­tu­nate not to be re­duced to 10 men and con­cede a penalty when keeper Gary Fitzger­ald rugby tack­led an op­po­si­tion striker only for the ref­eree to turn a blind eye.

The sec­ond half con­tin­ued as the first had ended with Mar­lin Coast lay­ing siege to the Dragons goal with the Dragons con­tent to soak up the pres­sure and hit Mar­lin Coast on the counter at­tack.

The Dragons were tir­ing but still the equaliser was elud­ing Mar­lin Coast, how­ever, their full­backs were con­tin­u­ing to bomb for­ward re­lent­lessly.

With 10 min­utes to go they broke once more down the Dragons right and from the re­sult­ing cross the ball was poked him past a cou­ple of sprawl­ing Dou­glas chal­lenges and past the de­spair­ing Fitzger­ald.

While it was a bit­ter pill to swal­low it was a de­served goal and now the Dragons had to dig deep to en­sure they left with a point.

The Paddy’s Bar Man of the Match went to Joe Fox who put in a hard­work­ing shift down the right flank, track­ing the op­po­si­tion run­ners and us­ing the ball in­tel­li­gently, es­pe­cially in the first half.

Next up for the Dragons is a trip to In­n­is­fail in the final game of the first round.

A win for the Dragons, will see them fin­ish the first round in the top four and in an ex­cel­lent po­si­tion to push on from.

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