By Simon Rathbone/QRL Correspondent
The Gladstone crowd at Marley Brown Oval were treated to an iconic Central Queensland Capras win, as their side held on against Brisbane Tigers for a memorable 30-22 victory during Activate! Queensland Country Week.
A notable statistic mentioned in the coverage was leading into today’s game, the Capras had gone 861 days without a win, with the Rockhampton-based side holding on for the eight-point victory as the Tigers failed to capitalise on a number of tryscoring chances in the closing stages.
The Capras had to overcome plenty of adversity, with centre Blake Mazien ruled out in the warm-up with an ankle injury before their other centre Nathan Bassani was sent off for dissent in the 48th minute, which saw them defend with 12 men for a majority of the second half.
Points continued to flow freely throughout the entire match, with Brodie Croft’s brother Zachary (Zac) Croft diving over in the corner for the opening points of the afternoon in the fifth minute for the Tigers.
Nixon Putt got the local Gladstone crowd on their feet, when he skittled a handful of would-be Tigers defenders before linking up with winger Cooper Marshall down the left edge, who showed too much pace to run away and score under the posts in the 14th minute.
When Capras winger Jedidiah Simbiken latched onto a cross-field kick 10 metres outside his own line and with only open pasture in front of him, he looked certain to score, only for fullback Brayden Torpy to show plenty of pace to drag the winger down.
The Capras couldn’t make the most of the unsettled defensive line and from the ensuing set the Tigers marched downfield and Oliver Pascoe made them pay in the 35th minute, as he crashed over from dummy half under the uprights, to give the Tigers a four-point halftime lead.
The Capras began the second half brightly, as they found plenty of space down the left edge before linking up with Hastings Deering Player of the Match Blake Moore who was backing up through the middle to score in the 48th minute.
It proved a crucial moment in the game, with William Samuel sent to the sin bin and the Capras awarded an eight-point try for his late contact to the head as Moore planted the ball down.
The whole ordeal was made even more bizarre when only seconds after, Capras centre Bassani was initially sent to the sin bin for his retaliation to the incident, the Capras were suddenly left a man short for the remainder of the game, with the referee deeming the 26-year old had sworn at him after being sent to the bin and was then sent off.
The Capras didn’t drop their heads however, with two tries in quick succession to Simbiken and Jack Pattie giving the Capras a 14-point lead heading into the final 15 minutes.
With the Capras boys tiring, the Tigers had all the running in the final stages with a try to Oliver Pascoe in the 71st minute setting up the grandstand finish.
Withstanding a number of attacking raids in the dying stages, head coach Guy Williams was extremely proud of his team’s effort and ability to hold on for the much-needed win.
“I’m proud of the players as it’s been a long time for the club between wins and as a club we are really proud of the players performances today,” Williams said.
“It was a really gritty performance, so they did very well to finish strongly and earn that win.”
Having failed to capitalise on leads on numerous occasions this season, Williams said the resilience his side showed, especially after being left a man down in the 48th minute, highlighted the club was moving in the right direction.
“Today’s win is no surprise as our performances all season have been a bit patchy where we have been really, really good for some patches of games and then let ourselves down in others,” Williams said.
“Today we found a way to minimise the impact of our errors and instead be really gritty and tough and bounce back, as in the past we’ve let those mistakes get the better of us and opposition teams would score a couple of tries and the game would turn really quickly and we didn’t do that today.
“We had some guys that played some big minutes like Tyler Szepanowski played the whole second half in the middle, while Bailey Butler started the game really well and finished the game even better.
“We were down to a couple of guys on the bench and only 12 men on the field which made it even tougher and found a way to win.”
While the game was technically scheduled as a Tigers home game, but as it was Activate! Queensland Country Week, Williams credited the support of the Central Queensland fans that rallied behind his team.
“I know it was a Tigers home game, but we’ve played a number of games here and we are the Central Queensland Capras, so I’d say today’s win is in front of our home fans and they certainly got the boys home.”
The Capras will be looking to keep their momentum going when they face the Redcliffe Dolphins at Browne Park next Sunday in their postponed Round 12 match.
The Tigers will look to bounce back against the Burleigh Bears at Pizzey Park.