Gladiators tighten semis bid
WATCH out, the Gladiators are on the march.
Goodna's Gladiators won their fifth straight Barber Cup match on Saturday, inflicting competition leader Wynnum's second defeat of the season, 12-6 at Evan Marginson Oval.
Goodna remains fourth, following third-placed Pine Rivers' 22-0 defeat of Springfield Lakes.
It means Springfield Lakes' semi-finals prospects are virtually over while Goodna seems assured of playing finals footy.
But that is the minimum requirement for the Gladiators, who have beaten all three teams above them this season.
But even Goodna coach Heta Pamatatau didn't expect his team to deal with the competition front-runners so comfortably.
"I knew we were going to give them a hard game because it is what we've been training for, for a couple of weeks," he said.
"I was really happy.
"Our game preparation was better.
"I did a lot of preparation because we're slow starters.
"So I got them fired up before the game.
"I told them a win was a virtual guarantee for us to make the top four."
Goodna led 7-3 at the break thanks to a try to lock Renee Thompson from a powerful forwards surge.
"We were just grinding it through," the coach said of the lead-up to the first try.
"We picked and ran at them with our boys right there in the rucks and mauls.
"I thought their defence would have been stronger."
The lead was extended in the second half following number eight Fou Filipo's try, with the Gladiators keeping Wynnum tryless.
"I thought we had them in both the forwards and backs," Pamatatau said.
"They were playing pretty hard, like last time, but we have improved."
When asked for the standout players, Pamatatau apologised before praising his son, Goodna captain and five-eighth David.
"I don't usually say anything about my boys," Pamatatau said.
"But he had a blinder.
"He really stepped up."
Another to impress the coach was hooker Jordan Ailao.
"He just ran," Pamatatau said.
"Battering through their defence.
"He played like a flanker and defended really well."
After disbanding last year in the wake of the floods, the Gladiators have built momentum as this season has progressed.
Pamatatau's primary focus has been getting them fit. But as the season enters its final third, he feels he can start adding some polish to their game.
"There's another round to go, with eight matches left and I reckon the boys are looking at top two," he said.
"I think this team is just starting to gel together."
The Gladiators can further enhance their prospects when they meet Pine Rivers at Goodna on Saturday.
"If we can do well against Pine Rivers, it will really lift the boys," Pamatatau said.
"Then we can start doing some more stuff in the third round."
Pamatatau rates his current crop the equal of the side he took to consecutive Barber Cup grand finals in 2008-09.
"It seems stronger," he said.
"It's a young side with a few older heads.
"Without them, we wouldn't be up there.
"I reckon in two more games, we'll be ready for semi-finals."
Goodna's win has done Ipswich Rangers a favour.
Rangers, who beat Brisbane Irish 40-17, now sit two points behind Wynnum who they meet at Woodend on Saturday.
STATE OF PLAY
Barber Cup ladder:
1. Wynnum 40, 2. Ipswich 38,
3. Pine Rivers 34, 4. Goodna 31, 5. Springfield Lakes 14,
6. Redcliffe 9, 7. Brisbane Irish 7.