By HARRY CLARKE
A DESPERATE push by Condamine forwards in the dying seconds wasn’t enough to topple the Toowoomba Rangers, who were A-grade grand finalists last year but were rattled by the Cods in the first round of 2021.
In holding out the Cods, the Rangers prevented a 3-0 whitewash at Condamine on Saturday.
Both the Cods B-grade and the Chinchilla River Rats C-grade had defeated Toowoomba convincingly with scores of 48-7 and 49-24 respectively.
Many wondered whether the one-sided affair would continue when A-grade took the field, but an easy try to the Rangers in the opening minutes of the third game put any Condamine fantasies to bed.
Toowoomba dominated the first half but the game was marred by drop ball from both sides. Toowoomba went into the break three tries in front, but the reigning runners-up had revealed some early-in-the-season weaknesses.
The Condamine Cods appeared a different side in the second half. The three towering Power brothers – Sonny, Elias and Levi – began to wear down the Rangers’ forward pack and the Cods were soon on the front foot.
Holding the Rangers to nil in the second half, Condamine fought back and came within a converted try of winning with 25 minutes left on the clock.
The final score was 14-19 to the Rangers.
“We gave ourselves plenty of opportunities but unfortunately made a few poor decisions near the end,” said Sonny Power, who is the Condamine Cods club president.
“But it was certainly good to tighten the score in the second half and get that close to winning.”
“There were plenty of positives from the game, so it’s been a pretty good start to the season.”
Earlier in the day Chinchilla River Rats made a big statement in the opening round of the C-grade competition.
Ash Wheeler’s and Dan Seater’s defence in the forwards kept Toowoomba at bay. (Seater would go on to score a rare five-pointer after coming off the bench for Condamine in B-grade).
But it was the River Rats’ speedy backline that dominated the game. Fullback Romada Barnes put in a man-of-the-match performance while Brandon Paerau and Shane Van Luenen made plenty of metres out wide.
Chinchilla’s kicking game was strong too. Dusty Tennyson ensured the Rats dominated field position while fly-half Matt Hart slotted seven from seven conversions.
New River Rats coach Sam Roberts said strong numbers at training during the pre-season and a first round win showed promise for the 2021 season.
“It’s hard to pick a standout player there because everyone did their job. It was a good, solid team effort,” Roberts said.
“We swung the ball wide, which is what we were trying to do, and those quicker young fellas just tore them apart.
“Hopefully we can build that winning culture and there are plenty of positive signs.”