Win buries Miners’ finals hopes
HERBERT River have kept themselves in the Townsville and Districts Rugby League minor premiership race with a 26- 18 win over the Charters Towers Miners.
Saturday night’s result in Ingham ends the Miners’ finals hopes, but they fought tooth and nail to give themselves every chance.
The Miners ran out to an early 12- 0 lead thanks to tries from Cody Thorn and Jack Fitchett, leaving the Crushers with plenty of work to get themselves out of trouble.
A try from Brendan Spina, the cousin of Cowboys forward Ben Spina, got Herbert River on the board, and another from Aaron Solari got the home side back on an equal footing.
The comeback was by no my means assured as Charters Towers kept piling on the pressure to keep their top four ambitions intact, but in- form Crushers flyer Luke Murray got the home side in front with a four- pointer just before halftime to make it 16- 12.
The Crushers then got to 20- 12, but the floodgates did not open as Charters Towers hit back to make it 20- 18, although the Crushers were able to grind away in the closing stages to deny the Miners a late winner before sealing it near the end.
Centrals on the other hand have a huge opportunity of sneaking into the top four, trailing fourth- placed Burdekin by a single with two rounds remaining until finals after beating Norths 36- 28 on Friday night.
Crushers coach Ian Schifilitti said Charters Towers had provided his players with a stern test of their finals credentials.
“Charters Towers had a finals spot on the line and they played like it,” he said.
“It was a tight tussle and it took us a while to get into the grind, but credit to the Miners for turning up the way they did.
“We made a couple of unforced errors and they were quick to get two tries, so we had to show some defensive resolve. It was tough but we eventually started to find it.”
The Crushers remain equal second on the TDRL table behind Western Lions, who beat fourth- placed Burdekin 24- 10 in their inaugural trophy game at the Townsville Sports Reserve.
Brothers sit on equal points with the Crushers after beating University 68- 12 at Jack Manski Oval yesterday afternoon.
“We were much better than we were against the Lions the week before,” Schifilitti said.
“Everything was a little bit better, especially that willingness to defend mistakes, even though we let those early tries through.
“We finish the year against Lions and that’s going to be another tough game, but we can’t go counting chickens before they hatch because we have University which will be tough next weekend.
“But we need these tough tussles with finals just around the corner.”
Crushers halfback Mitchell Seri suffered a head knock towards the end of Saturday’s game but is expected to be available this weekend.