14 April, 2021
Rivers in hard fought draw with Coolum
THE Stanley River Reserve Grade travelled to Coolum on Saturday to play Coolum. Rivers A Grade had a bye.
Coolum were the 2019 Reserve Grade Premiers and after a slow start to this season welcomed back a number of players for this game.
On a very hot afternoon, Coolum started very strongly and after a torrid opening three minutes of play made a break down the left which when confronted with Wolves defence saw a kick back infield that bounced into the hands of a Coolum player and Coolum led 6 nil.
Confronted by a very solid Coolum outfit, this could have gone badly for the Wolves but not for this new look Rivers Reserve Grade side. The game turned into a very physical arm wrestle as both sides looked for an opening.
In the 15th minute it was the Wolves who moved down the field, had an opportunity on the right which came up short and then moved the ball left to half back Scott Floss, back from injury, who was too strong powering over from short range. Jessie Wagner converted and the score was locked up at 6 all.
Rivers then began to dominate with strong defence and at times some sustained attack until four minutes to go in the first half, with the Wolves attacking the Coolum line, a long pass to the left was intercepted by a Coolum player 10 m out from his own line.
Rivers winger Nathan Saliamungo provided an exceptional chase to catch the Coolum player some 30 metres out from the try line only to see a pass go to a supporting Coolum player who ran away to score despite an excellent chase from another Rivers play Mitch Emmerson.
Coolum converted and led the Wolves 12 to 6 which would be the half time score. However, an indication of how the game was going occurred with 20 seconds remaining in the first half.
With Coolum trying to work their way away from their own line, a Coolum player deliberately threw the ball over the dead ball line to eat up time and take us to half time. The action was recognition of the dangerous Wolves defence and gave the team increased confidence for the second half.
The second half started as the first had finished with some torrid defence and enterprising attack from both sides but no cracks appeared.
The Wolves had 19 players in their squad and they were constantly rotated to keep the players going in the oppressive conditions. Finally with 17 minutes to go, the Wolves, after some sustained attack, moved the ball to the right. They finally managed to use their outside backs successfully as full back Jessie Wagner got the ball and threw a well-judged cut out pass to winger Luke Messingbird who made no mistake as he crossed for a well-earned try in the corner. Jessie’s kick from the touchline was just astray and Rivers trailed 12 to 10.
The Wolves then continued to dominate field position built on some inspired defence and by this time there was some welcome shade covering much of the field. After pressing the line hard the Wolves ran the ball on the fifth from about 10 m out with 6 minutes to go. The ball went right to hard running prop Dean Lude who turned provider with a nicely timed ball to the rampaging James Cochran running a damaging line back inside the sliding Coolum defence. He stepped passed players and scored. Jessie just missed the conversion and the Wolves led 14 to 12. Coolum then with the aid of a penalty worked their way back up towards the Rivers line.
The Wolves regained possession and with 30 seconds to play the Wolves, about 40 metres out from their own line, were penalised in possession. The merit of the final penalty and what it was actually given for will be a topic of debate for some time but had to be accepted by the exhausted Wolves players. With the full time hooter long since sounded, Coolum kicked the penalty goal and the final score was Rivers 14 Coolum 14.
Despite the disappointing finish the Wolves performance was yet again very encouraging for all coaching staff and supporters. All 19 Rivers players put in very strong efforts with some onlookers rating the defence of both sides worthy of an A Grade game.
It was difficult to pick players out in such a game but the performance of forwards Daniel Brooks and Bodeane Simpson were strong and Kale Sheraton was good in the middle when he came on. But congratulations to all players on their efforts and we look forward to seeing more of the same from the Black and Reds in 2021.
This Sunday 18th April at Woodford Showgrounds the Rivers Reserve Grade get a bye but Maroochydore Reserve Grade play Kawana at 1:30pm. Rivers A Grade take on Maroochydore at 3.00 pm. Get along and support the Wolves and see a good afternoon of football.