Band of Brothers: Rockhampton performs in Seagulls clash
ROCKHAMPTON Brothers stood up on Saturday night, inflicting the Yeppoon Seagulls' first defeat of the season 30-16 at Victoria Park. It was a gripping contest in the opening half and with 15 minutes remaining in the first term it was locked at 8-all.
But rugby league games are won or lost in the championship stanza; the vital 10 minutes before half-time and the first 10 after the break.
And so it was in this high quality league game. Despite a fine break by Seagulls' Sam Holzhemier, who was all class directing traffic at dummy half and showed speed and a wicked step to cut Brothers open, it was the Rockhampton side which looked the stronger.
Brothers' winger David Inskip was solid under the high ball after some difficulties in his previous two games. Inskip's new-found confidence in the air would prove decisive.
With five minutes left, Yeppoon were penalised for holding the man in the tackle. Brothers attacked and after being held up over the line twice, fullback Reece Baker sent a perfectly weighted cross field kick, which was higher than a chip but lower than a bomb, in Inskip's' direction on the far wing. And Inskip didn't disappoint. Rising high above the opposition he took a superb catch and crashed to the turf for a try. It was converted and Brothers went to the sheds leading 14-8.
Seagulls looked rattled. Brothers looked class.
Making the most of their championship minutes' momentum, Brothers pressed hard right from the resumption. And a Yeppoon knock on had them on attack, 10 metres out in the opening minutes. The ensuing six tackles saw Yeppoon again penalised and a Brothers try looked inevitable. It was.
Big centre Cooper Nobbs, who had another outstanding match, made a strong run down the right flank after being delivered a fine pass from a nicely worked wrap-around by Baker to put him into space. This quickly closed but Nobbs was too fast and powerful and was over. The kick was unsuccessful, but Brothers' hunger and determination saw them dominate the championships term and lead 18-8.
Failing to take the ball cleanly from the restart cost Brothers. Yeppoon had them back pedalling and Seagulls' centre Brett Reddiex bundled his way over for his third try, Reddiex scoring Yeppoon's two first-half tries. It was not converted and it was 18-12 to Brothers.
When Yeppoon did attack in the second half, which they did frequently and for sustained periods, some exceptional low tackling by Aiden Copper, another Brothers' stand-out, led a fine defensive effort across the Brothers' line. You could hear the talk and encouragement of each other across the Brothers blue wall. You could also hear the hits of the crunching tackles. Yeppoon could not break through.
Big Marco Delapena, in his comeback match, crossed to take Brothers out to a two converted try buffer, 24-12 at the midway mark of the second half.
Four minutes later a beautiful in-goal grubber was the only way Yeppoon could get behind the Brothers defence and it was brilliantly collected by Seagulls hooker Lewis McPhail, He touched down right on the sideline. The difficult conversion was missed to make it 24-16.
But Brothers weren't finished yet, Aiden Cooper scored an excellent try, which he converted to make it 30-16. And that's how it finished. Save for one last exciting play.
Again camped deep in defence in their own half, Brothers winger Inskip snatched a quick thinking intercept inside the 20-metre mark and the tall speedster was away. Two Seagulls' players turned and gave chase. With just seconds left on the clock the first one caught him five metres out from the line. But he wasn't held and he bounced up, only to be cut down by the second Seagulls' defender half a metre out.
And then the fat lady sang.
Brothers' rake and captain, Tom Simpson was named Man of the Match.
Speaking after the win, Damien Siebold, the stand-in coach in Michael Jenkins' absence praised his team's defencesive committment.
"The Seagulls put 60 on us in round one," Siebold recalled.
"So to keep them to just 16 points was fantastic. I am so proud of the boys defence and their committment in this match. It was a superb, full 80 minute effort by every player. We worked hard during the week on some things to nullify the Seagulls attack and it worked."
Siebold was relunctant to single out any player in what he called: "a splendid team performance", which it was, but there were some stand-outs for the Brothers.
"Tom Simpson was man of the match, but only just," Siebold said.
"Cooper Nobbs was oustanding, his leadership around the park was again excellent. Aiden Cooper had a blinder. He's just 19 but he is tough. His defence and work rate, particularly his low tackling was exceptional. And David Inskip was another who had a particularly good game. He and Reece were solid at the back."