Bundy boys aim up
BUNDABERG ensured a good representation in the Wide Bay Whales team for the upcoming Queensland Country Championships with two good performances in the final trial matches on Saturday.
After losing to Fraser Coast Mariners 31-19 at Hervey Bay a week earlier, Bundaberg hosted the return bout at Across The Waves Sports Complex.
But Rugby Bundaberg stalwart and evergreen front-rower Matt Leighton said instead of playing one game, they suited up for two 40-minute matches, losing to the Mariners 22-19 but defeating South Burnett Thrashers 19-7.
"Our first game was a fairly even affair but unfortunately Fraser Coast ended up winning it with a try in the last minute of the game," Leighton said.
"Glenn Sherbourne got one try from a nice inside ball from Jan De Villiers, and Robbie McKeown got a try against them as well.
"It was also a good game against South Burnett but we ended up winning it and one of the highlights was a try by backs captain Luke McCloskey when he played five-eighth.
"Players who stood out included Matt Craven, who played a mixture of fullback and centre and had a good day, and Glenn Sherbourne, who also had a good day at inside centre and five-eighth.
"Fill-in captain Jimmy Courtice also had his usual good, solid games, and big Jan De Villiers had two good games at No. 8."
Leighton was pleased personally that he and fellow front-rowers Karl Nielsen, veteran Bruce Dalton and Dan Unwin were able to lay the platform in rotation in the engine room.
"We had good numbers with about 30 players who put their hand up to play - it was pretty hot conditions but we were able to run fresh legs on the paddock all the time," he said.
Leighton said coach Rob Darney was pleased with their performances.
"Some of the combinations were a bit affected because some of the boys were playing in spots they hadn't trained in but they played there to help out and it was a very good effort by everyone," he said.
It was an extra special occasion for Dalton, who is approaching 50 years of age, but was at his vintage best, playing alongside his teenage son Alex.
Leighton said his inclusion in the Whales squad was testimony to his longevity in the game and hard work.
"The only down-side was that Bruce hurt his knee in the second game, but he is very convinced that he will get back before the Whales' first game," he said.
Wide Bay Whales coach Mark Cassidy yesterday was not able to confirm his squad but he said it would comprise 32 players and that it would be officially announced today and will appear in tomorrow's NewsMail.
The squad will be culled after training over the coming weeks before the first match of the championships against Central Highlands in Emerald on March 10.