Tigers embarrass hapless Swifts
FOR 15 minutes yesterday, Swifts looked every bit a match for premiers Norths in their A-grade Ipswich Rugby League Clash at Purga.
The Bluebirds led 4-0 and had split the Tigers defence open on several occasions.
Unfortunately for Swifts the next 65 minutes resembled a nightmare as they imploded to lose 56-4.
In the 16th minute a penalty to Norths led to a try to rampaging front rower Brad Oddi and the floodgates opened.
The size of the Swifts forwards and their lack of mobility means they struggle if they don't complete sets and have to do extra defending. Such was the case yesterday as the Bluebirds repeatedly gave away penalties and dropped the ball.
Norths were only too happy to accept the free ride and managed to score from most of the opportunities presented to them.
It was 28-4 at half-time but any thoughts Swifts had of a second half revival were scuppered when they kicked off out on the full.
The further the match went the less Swifts seemed to care and the softness of some of the Norths tries was embarrassing for an A-grade team.
Swifts had made some strides this season, becoming increasingly difficult to beat, if not yet stringing wins together.
But yesterday was a huge step backwards and the Bluebirds.
Norths, on the other hand, look like they are getting closer to the form that saw them take last year's grand final.
They still have work to do as well, as Swifts showed them in the first 15 minutes.
But the pieces are falling into place and they have few weaknesses.
"It was very good," Norths three-try winger Anava Fesolai said. "The boys in the middle did the job for us. We try and play off the back of that."
Two of Fesolai's tries came from dummy half runs - one from 60m out, highlighting the home team's shoddy ruck defence.
"They've got some big boys in the middle and they started going through us," Fesolai said of the opening exchanges.
"We had to change the momentum.
"We just go back to what we talked about before the game and complete sets, turn them around and get to early kicks."
Fesolai rates the current version of the Tigers as better than last year's premiership wining team, which is an ominous warning to their opposition.
The addition of Jacob Stephan in the front row has compensated for the loss of Mark Appleton while Josh Roberts' switch from five-eighth to fullback has given the Norths backline attack a new dimension.
"All the boys are turning up and on the same page," Fesolai said.
"We want to win the premiership again."
To do so Fesolai believes they can still improve.
"We can improve our attack and holding onto the ball," he said.
"Our defence is pretty good at the moment."
Whenever Swifts did get some territory and possession, the Norths defence swarmed to deny them a second try for the match.