Un­beaten start to sea­son ex­acts a heavy toll on Old Boys

Townsville Bulletin - - Rugby Union - by Antony Ste­wart antony. ste­wart@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au

NORTH Ward’s un­beaten start to the Townsville and District Rugby Union is com­ing at a heavy cost.

Scenes in the Hugh St dress­ing rooms fol­low­ing a hard-fought 26-20 win over Univer­sity re­sem­bled a war zone more than a place of cel­e­bra­tion on Satur­day af­ter­noon as in­juries rav­aged the Old Boys.

Af­ter los­ing in­flu­en­tial for­ward Dan Withers ( shoul­der) for up to six games last week, fel­low for­ward Daniel Wright ( knee) and cen­tre David Rangi were both forced from the field be­fore half­time. Rangi’s re­place­ment, winger Robert Bita, then be­came an­other ca­su­alty just af­ter the break.

‘‘ I’m not do­ing well with the in­juries,’’ Old Boys coach Mick Smith lamented.

But North Ward con­tin­ued to fight hard, ral­ly­ing to lead 26-8 af­ter two quick tries to start the sec­ond half. Uni, though, would not fold and showed their own re­silience when they closed the gap to six with a few min­utes to play, ham­mer­ing the Old Boys’ line in search of a match win­ner.

‘‘ If there had been an­other minute we prob­a­bly would Smith quipped.

‘‘ But I thought our des­per­a­tion ( in de­fence) through­out the whole game was good – the scram­bling de­fence and gen­eral de­fence was good.’’

De­spite suf­fer­ing de­feat, it was a great turn­around from Univer­sity af­ter they were thumped 75-3 by Teach­ers West last week.

‘‘ They’re go­ing to worry other sides,’’ Smith said stu­dents.

Univer­sity coach Steve Gowdy said Satur­day’s re­sult was a far more gen­uine in­di­ca­tion of what

have

lost,’’ all the of the the team can of­fer in sea­son 2011.

‘‘ It was good to have a few of our reg­u­lar play­ers back, that made a dif­fer­ence, and it was also a fact that we had train­ing – get­ting back on the field makes a big dif­fer­ence,’’ he said.

‘‘ There’s still a lot of work to do . . . but we’ll be get­ting bet­ter.’’

Bur­dekin joined the Old Boys as the only un­beaten teams af­ter two rounds fol­low­ing a tough 17-10 win over Teach­ers. They have now beaten the premiers and run­ner­sup in back-to-back games.

Cane­toads coach Bren­dan Casey said af­ter a scratchy win in the open­ing round his team was start­ing to find its rhythm.

‘‘ It was a good armwres­tle,’’ he said of the clash with last year’s mi­nor premiers.

‘‘ We worked our way to­wards a cou­ple of tries this week­end, which was good. We held on to our ball for eight or nine phases.

‘‘ The things we’re work­ing on at train­ing seem to be pay­ing off . . . so we’re all work­ing from the same page at the mo­ment, which for two games in is pleas­ing.’’

In the other game, Brothers were far too good for Ross River, run­ning away with a 74-nil vic­tory.

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