Win buries Min­ers’ fi­nals hopes

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - MICHAEL THOMP­SON michael. thomp­son@ news. com. au

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.

CRUNCH: Univer­sity player Nick­son Bo­rana is tack­led by the Brothers de­fence. Pic­ture: ZAK SIM­MONDS

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