Only 55 to 60 minutes of play was carried out at Rugby League Park between the Tenterfield Tigers and Inglewood Roosters on Saturday instead of the usual 80, but it was enough for the home team to score a significant victory over their major competition in the run to this year’s trophy.
Captain/coach Brendan Minns said the boys got off to a good start but about 14 minutes into the game an Inglewood player went down with a dislocated kneecap and play was halted until he could be moved safely, taken by ambulance to Tenterfield Hospital.
“He was a big boy, and in a fair bit of pain,” Minns said.
The Tigers’ strong start carried on after the pause, against a side that was depleted even before the injury.
“They had only 14 or 15 players to start with, and I think they just ran out of fitness with no reserves.”
The Tigers, in contrast, had 21 turn up to play. The score was 4-all at half-time, before Tenterfield took control of the game.
Minns said Andrew Gormley played extremely well in the forwards, earning Players’ Player honours in a unanimous decision.
“In both attack and defence he was terrific, and he scored two tries. Geoff Swan Snr at five-eighth also played extremely well.”
Geoff Jnr also took to the field after coming good on Friday after a bout of illness, with Minns to ascertain whether this now makes him eligible to play in the finals.
“The whole team played well together,” Minns said, “and defensively they played really well.”
The win puts the Tigers one point ahead of Inglewood on the leaderboard, a position Minns has been aiming for since the start of the season and one which will only be maintained by good performances over the four matches remaining.
“It’s a prime position at this stage,” he said.
The competition has a bye this weekend, followed by a series of double-headers at each of the participating clubs’ home grounds. Somewhat fortunately the Tigers take on Stanthorpe at Inglewood’s double-header, so the two top teams won’t meet again this season on Roosters’ home turf before the finals.
“It makes it a fraction easier,” Minns said.
Should leaderboard positions remain unchanged, the next time the two could meet might be at the season’s grand final at Rugby League Park on August 26, assuming the Tigers are the minor premiers and Inglewood wins the semifinal.
Minns also played on Saturday after nursing a shoulder injury. He said he pulled up well, but it might be just as well there’s now a two-week break before the Tigers take on Stanthorpe. Training will continue, however, with Minns aiming to fine-tune a few areas of play and continue work on the team’s defensive effort.
“We left a little bit to be desired and had a few lapses, so we could have been better,” he said.
He’s not expecting an easy game against Stanthorpe, who defeated Killarney by a massive 64-10 on Saturday.
“Every game’s going to be a high-quality game. We don’t want to get complacent,” he said.
The first double-header will be hosted by Tenterfield on July 22, where there will be a match between Inglewood and Killarney as well as Tenterfield and Stanthorpe.
It will also be the Tigers’ annual Aub’s Day to honour the team’s number one fan the late Aub Gillespie, incorporating a jersey auction.