Ipswich falters but remains in the hunt for Langer Cup
IPSWICH State High has crashed back to earth against Keebra Park at Southport.
After upstaging a highly rated Wavell High in round one, the ISH Firsts entered the Wednesday afternoon clash with the schoolboy rugby league powerhouse full of self-belief.
However, Ipswich was humbled by a well-drilled Keebra unit 30-10.
Coach Joshua Bretherton said his troops were left powerless in the face of an overwhelming first half onslaught.
"We were appalling in the first half,” he said. "They were way too good.
"We just were not good enough in the opening 30 minutes. We need to own that.”
Several early errors proved costly, handing Keebra prime attacking opportunities in favourable field position.
The Gold Coast outfit needed little invitation, taking full advantage to punish Ipswich repeatedly.
Trailing 24-4 at the break, Bretherton urged his charges to remain composed and return to the standards which had yielded success in the past.
Despite lifting themselves up off the canvas and fighting until the bitter end, the gallant Ipswich players were unable to reel in their opponents.
Though a significantly improved showing did stem the flow of tries and allow them to match Keebra's stars 6-6 in the second stanza.
Hooker Wyatt So'otaga was a standout.
Bretherton said So'otaga defended brilliantly and was a deserving recipient of Ipswich High's man of the match honours.
He also praised the efforts of hard-running centre Elone Taufa. "He did a lot of the dirty work and made some big metres coming out on exit sets,” Bretherton said.
Ipswich has endured two tough road trips in the opening rounds.
Having recorded mixed results, the Firsts are not out of contention to progress to the national knockout phase but the assignment does not get any easier.
The side now enters three consecutive matches at home and it will need to triumph in at least two of them to stay alive.
In three weeks Ipswich must next rise to meet the challenge of defending national champions Palm Beach Currumbin.
"We need to get a lot better,” Bretherton said.
Meanwhile, in a testament to the quality of the Ipswich State High Excellence in Rugby League program, nine pupils are preparing to represent Met West at the state carnival from Thursday-Sunday.
A proud Bretherton said the school community was behind its green and gold contingent and it was hoped they would perform to their potential.