THE Taroom Wandoan Battlers’ foray into South West Queensland’s A-grade rugby league competition is off to a shaky start, after the team which dominated Reserve-grade in recent years suffered another heavy defeat in week two of the competition.

The Battlers’ 40-10 loss to the Chinchilla Bulldogs followed last weekend’s 38-8 defeat by the Mitchell Magpies, but opponents would write off the boys in blue this early in the season at their own peril.

Taroom Wandoan recently overcame ‘three-peat’ A-grade premiership winners Roma Cities to win the coveted pre-season Lindsay Williams Shield, and coach Mick Hanson said he believed the Battlers would build form and confidence throughout the season.

“We’d fought our way back into it by half time but unfortunately there was a bit of loose ball and a few injuries in the second half,” he said after yesterday’s game.

“We had blokes playing out of position, filling holes due to injures, and we had no one left on the bench for last five minutes. We’ll get better. We’ll get more consistent and we’ll be competitive.”

WATCH: Chinchilla and Taroom Wandoan commemorate ANZAC Day at Bulldog Park

The Battler’s decision to join the A-grade competition in 2023 followed three consecutive premiership wins in Reserve-grade and less than a handful of losses during that period.

This year they’re missing a few star players who’ve moved on or retired but Hanson said there remained enough experience in the squad for the Battlers to build rhythm in coming weeks and prove they belong in the top tier competition.

“The reality is they’ve played a lot of footy against these fellas over the years too, coming through the grades, they know a lot of the boys and they were confident going into the season,” Hanson said.

“We put it to them, whether they wanted to go ahead with it or not (moving up to A-grade) and they were keen to push for it. They’re up for the challenge but the last two weeks sort haven’t gone they way we would have liked.”

Bulldogs centre Pat Dolbel looks for space around Battlers prop Ben Collett. IMAGE: Country Caller

Chinchilla’s win over Taroom Wandoan followed their disappointing loss to the Miles Devils last weekend which saw them hand back the Dagma Gleeson Memorial Trophy, which was revived last year as an annual contest between the two neighbouring towns.

There are plenty of fresh faces in the A-grade squad who are already making an impact early in the season.

Under-18 recruits Tom Roberts and Pat Dolbel show they were up to the task yesterday while workhorse Keegan Austin kept the Battlers defence occupied with several bustling runs off the bench.

“Keegan’s been toiling away for a couple of years now and starting to look right at home in A-grade. It’s great to have him on board,” said Bulldogs captain Matt Eising.

“Angus Pascoe was great on debut at hooker when he come on to replace Billy Playstead, who had an injury. It was a big effort for a 17-year-old.”

Bulldogs halfback Bryce Rackemann. IMAGE: Country Caller

The steady hands of experienced playmakers Dan Alberts and Bryce Rackemann kept the Bulldogs in control for most of the game. Young second rower Llayton Hohn terrorised Taroom Wandoan as a punched up the middle of the field.

Out wide, centre Declan Bell and fullback Abraham Tudia were always quick to seize on opportunities in open space.

In other A-grade fixtures the Mitchell Magpies turned the tables from last year’s grand final to put 50 points on Roma Cities’s 24 as the club celebrated its Old Boys Day to coincide with ANZAC Day commemorations.

The Miles Devils continued a strong start to the season with a second win, defeating the St George Dragons at home 48-18.

Mitchell Magpies captains Ollie Peak (L) and Tom Kennedy (R) receive the Byron Kelly Memorial ANZAC trophy from Byron’s brother, Des Kelly. Byron Kelly was a premiership winner with both the Roma Cities and Mitchell Magpies. IMAGE: Supplied


Man of the Match Les Wortley receives the John Freegard Memorial trophy by John’s son, Peter. John Freegard was an ex-serviceman and RSL member who worked the gate at the Magpies home ground for years alongside his good mate Colin Campbell. IMAGE: Supplied
Previous articleState’s best cattle dogs do battle in beef capital
Next articlePhoto comp winners share in $5,000 prize money
Country Caller founder and editor

Leave a Reply