High-flying Eagles land knockout blow
“IT was an eventful afternoon.”
That was possibly the understatement of the Ipswich Rugby League (IRL) season, uttered by Brothers centre Michael Andrews as he stood outside the dressing room following his team's 32-24 defeat by Goodna yesterday.
Andrews was reflecting on a game in which Goodna came from behind to win, despite having second rower Sione Piutau sent off 30 minutes into the game.
It was just one of many incidents in a spiteful first half that saw almost as many punches thrown as tackles made.
The punches weren't confined to the players either.
As a brawl right on half time spilled towards the fence, spectators were seen throwing punches at Brothers players.
Just before full-time, spectators were back at it - this time with each other - in the licensed area at the southern end of the field.
Somewhere in between there was a bit of footy played.
Brothers started brilliantly with a try to Shane Gibson after just 30 seconds, when he hit a short ball from captain Tyron Day and sprinted 90m to stun Goodna.
It was 8-0 five minutes later when winger Brook Alofipo crossed. It took a while for Goodna to awake from their slumber but they managed to get back to 14-12 down before Piutau was given his marching orders for a high shot on Clint Hennelly that dropped him.
It was the first tackle following a penalty awarded to Brothers for an alleged high shot by Piutau.
The referee was given little choice but to march the big forward.
Brothers drew first blood again in the second half. With Goodna a man down and having a reputation for fading late in matches, the home team looked set to go on with it.
The Brethren somehow failed to take advantage however and rarely looked like scoring again.
They had success in the first half running their quick men around the big Goodna forwards and getting the ball wide to the left. Neither method was employed successfully in the second half and Brothers' attacking kicking was poor.
Goodna skipper Craig Wehrman, on the other hand, knew just what was required. It was two chip and regathers from the halfback which led to tries that put the game beyond Brothers' reach.
“It was good for the boys to get back with 12 men,” Goodna second rower Frank Matiu said.
Matiu said the half-time break was used to remind the players that tries, not punches would earn them the points.
“We realised fighting's not going to win the game,” he said.
While Piutau was missed, his sending off had the effect of focussing Goodna's resolve to win by playing footy.
“He is one of the boys that gives us a bit of a lift,” Matiu said.
“It was a great effort having a player like him sent off and being able to react.
“In the first half we were down.
“Lately we have been on a bit of a roll so it was good to have a game like that where we had to work. It was good for us heading into the finals.”
The heated clash also produced its fair share of injuries with several players from both sides forced from the field.
- In the weekend's other match, Fassifern beat Swifts 46-34 at Llewellyn Motors Field yesterday.