By Peter Groundwater
CAPTAIN Toni Newman inspired his Gowrie Warriors under-15s side to an explosive victory over Central Tigers with a dazzling attacking display that may signal the Hinchinbrook outfit are Premiership contenders.
A blitzing first half gave the Warriors a 24-12 lead over a team who had beaten them convincingly earlier in the season.
But Tigers clawed the match back to 30-all before Newman ran the length of the field to score the try that swang the match in Gowrie’s favour, with his team going on to win 40-30.
Coach Chris Davids said: ‘We were amazing. The entire competition was talking about the attacking abilities of the Warriors.
‘I don’t want to pick anyone out. All the boys were outstanding. We’ve been training hard – and that’s starting to pay off on the field.’
Up 24 points to 12 at the half time break, it looked as if the Warriors were going to run away with the game.
But a spirited fightback from Centrals saw the scores tied up at 30 points all with only 10 minutes to play.
With Centrals launching raid after raid on the Warriors line, it looked as if the game was going to go in the favour of the Townsville side.
To the Warriors credit, they repelled three sets of six on their own line and then regrouped for Newman to score that length of the field try to break the deadlock.
Another try late in the game saw the Gowrie Warrior team run out comfortable winners by 40 points to 30.
This victory must stamp the Gowrie’s under-15s as a genuine premiership threat.
Standout performers were Andre Matthews, who was everywhere in defence, as well as North Queensland player Toni Newman, Benji Esrom and Owen Babia.
Meanwhile, the under-17s Warriors team took on the formidable Western Lions.
The Lions have a number of representative players in their ranks and this definitely showed in the manner in which they attacked any weaknesses in the Warriors defence.
But it was not all smooth sailing for the Western Lions, as the Gowrie boys scored three tries and were very unlucky not to score another three throughout the game.
Despite the lopsided score line, there were a number of impressive performances on the night, with Palm Island man Rayzarlin Pearson having his best game of the season and Torres Strait Islander Colonie Kepa taking a mountain of stopping with some bruising runs into the Lions defensive line.
Yarrabah man Caynin Yeatman also put up a strong performance, with some enterprising plays during the game.
Guest coach for the evening Peter Groundwater was buoyed by the positive attitude that was displayed on the night and felt that the under-17s had their opportunities, but let some bad defensive reads spoil their gutsy efforts.
The Warriors team will now set their sights on the upcoming Confraternity carnival in Brisbane, which will take place in the first week of the upcoming school holidays.