Emus in flying start to Risdon Cup title defence
GOONDIWINDI began the new Risdon Cup year where it left on in 2018 with a hard-fought round-one victory over Toowoomba Rangers at a steamy Gold Park today.
The defending premiers - fielding only a handful of players from last September's grand-final winning side - wore down a spirited new-look Rangers team to win 29-14.
In a quality match opening to the season, Goondiwindi took a 12-7 lead to half-time after tries to fullback Lachie Waide and centre James Mitchell.
Rangers replied seven minutes from the break with a converted try in the corner to winger Cormack Ebbage after frittering away several early scoring opportunities while pressuring the Emus' line.
Goondiwindi stretched its advantage to 19-7 through a Tom Jobling try two minutes after the resumption.
Rangers five-eighth Tom Kidston capped off a fine debut game with a smart try five minutes later to close the gap to 19-14.
But Goondiwindi have made an art-form in recent seasons out of finding when needed, and the Emus eventually put Rangers away with late tries from James McColl and Jace Pearlman.
Goondiwindi coach Luke Fritz said the Emus are looking forward to welcoming back some quality personnel while praising the efforts of a host of club newcomers.
"We've had a few retired, a few injured and a few away as well," Fritz said.
"Michael Jamieson and Will Gilbert will be back and they'll chime in somewhere but other than this will be the nuts and bolts.
"I think we blooded seven players today - seven blokes who have never played for us.
"I thought our effort was outstanding.
"We were concerned coming into the game.
"We knew Rangers would turn up and I think they'll be a strong team this year."
Rangers, president Steve Weier was likewise pleased with the early-season signs for the club which is the only one in Toowoomba fielding teams across the board.
"We wanted to go and recruit 25 people (in the off-season) under 25 and what we saw today was them starting to gel," Weier said.
"When you look at 29-14, Goondiwindi are beatable. We've just got to get these guys all gelling together and we have missing players to come back into A grade as well.
"Our club is basically a third new and although B grade was a bit of a blow out with a few players covering for missing players in A grade I think we'll be competitive in three grades."
GOONDIWINDI 29 (Lachy Waide, James Mitchell, Tob Jobling, James McColl, Jace Pearlman tries; Lachy Waide, Billy Thompson conversions) d TOOWOOMBA RANGERS 14 (Cormack Ebbage, Tom Kidston tries; Mal Grealy 2 conversions).