A TWO-WEEK break is just the tonic for a severely depleted Gympie Devils squad after being defeated by a rampant Caboolture at the weekend.
The Devils hit the road for the Caloundra RSL Cup third round encounter Saturday evening and lost 30-10.
With only a handful of regular A Grade players on board due to a spate of injuries, the remainder of the Gympie squad was patched up with under-18 and Reserve Grade players.
The inexperience of the side proved costly for the Devils as a polished performance from Caboolture produced a comfortable win.
Devils coach John Greensill said the team was grabbing the fortnight off with both hands.
“We’ve been looking forward to the two weeks off to try and recover,” he said.
“We have about 11 players to come back and most will be back on board after the break.”
While long-term injuries have Josh Williams and Kurt Fleming sidelined for months to come, a host of niggling injuries ensures a mass return to the playing roster.
In the game itself, the Devils started well to boost early hopes despite the side’s youth and inexperience.
But outside of the first 16 minutes, Gympie started to show signs of dropping its intensity.
Caboolture capitalised on the lull from the visitors and piled on the points.
“For 40 minutes we really had a lapse and fell asleep,” Greensill said.
“Caboolture got away from us during this time and left us with too much to catch up on.”
The Devils were able to avoid the embarrassment of a scoreless defeat in the last 20 minutes of the match when winger Trent Lovett crossed twice on debut.
“It was a great effort from Trent playing in his first A Grade match,” Greensill said.
Despite the defeat, the Devils coach remained optimistic.
“The loss was not so much of a surprise,” Greensill said.
“We knew the situation we were in with injuries, so it was always going to tough.
“I was quite happy with how the young blokes stepped up.”
Greensill also praised the side as a whole for its “fighting spirit” and not giving up despite the score line as the game wore on.
“They could have just thrown in the towel and given up but they didn’t,” he said.
“They competed for the whole match and managed those two tries towards the end.”
While Lovett enjoyed the coach’s praise, Reece Coleman also was acknowledged as he continues to thrive on the challenge of his first year in A Grade.
Meanwhile, old heads Craig Marshall and Brad English, two of only a handful of regular A Grade players taking to the field, had solid runs. English had his second game back with the Devils after being sidelined by injury.
Now with two weeks off, the Devils are eager to rest and return to re-assert their claim for back-to-back Caloundra RSL Cup crowns.
The loss to Caboolture at the weekend was the Gympie side’s second on the trot after being rolled by the Nambour Crushers a fortnight ago in a grand final replay at Crusher Park.
The Devils’ next opponent will be Beerwah at home in a fortnight.
Chris Kahler, a former NRL player, will be available for the clash against Beerwah in his first game with the Devils since signing in the pre-season.
A host of other key players returning will have the defending champions feeling themselves again as the battle continues.