12 May, 2021
Rivers win on the bell against Noosa
On Saturday 8th May, Stanley Rivers hosted Noosa Pirates at the Woodford Showgrounds. The homefield affectionately known as ‘The Graveyard’ has not really stood up to its name this year but last Saturday turned that around.
The A Grade took the field having lost their first five games of the year and were urgently looking to turn things around against Noosa who were equal competition leaders with Kawana and Beerwah.
Rivers welcomed back a number of players. Callum Klein returned at five eighth, brother Rowan moved to his preferred centre spot, Dalton Smith, allowed to play by the Sunshine Coast Falcons, slotted into centre and quality second rower Ryley Kajewski returned from a knee injury.
The game did not start well when in the fourth minute the Noosa backs broke through on the Wolves right hand side and raced away 60 metres to score the first try, convert and lead 6 nil.
There were flashbacks of the same treatment the Wolves got in Noosa in the first game of the year when they went down 42 to 6 to Noosa. But that was a long time ago.
Rivers dug in and took the fight to Noosa defending strongly and attacking the Noosa line. In the 11th minute as the Wolves were pressuring the line the ball came right to half back Brett Doherty who found Corey Parker hitting a hole and scoring a good try as he was tackled over the line. Brett converted and Rivers had equalised at 6 all.
Five minutes later and the Wolves were down attacking the Noosa line again. The ball came left to Callum Klein who linked up with Corey Parker. Corey swerved, threw a few dummies and accelerated over the line. Brett converted and Rivers led 12 to 6.
In the 23rd minute the Wolves found themselves about 10 metres out from the try line towards the right hand touchline. Brett Doherty got the ball and began an angled run towards the posts with the Noosa players holding off looking for the runner but too late, Brett was the runner and in for a try. He converted his own try and the Wolves were out to an 18 to 6 lead.
A turning point in the game soon approached. Brett Doherty went down with a rib injury after making a tackle as Noosa headed towards the left hand corner with the ball. There was some confusion about the Noosa grounding, but they were awarded the try, much to the disgust of the learned gentlemen on the balcony of the clubhouse. The conversion was unsuccessful, and Rivers led 18 to 10.
Importantly though Brett Doherty had to leave the field and did not return. The teams went to the break with Rivers leading 18 to 10.
Early in the second half, stand in half back Rory McLeod put a cross field kick in which came down near the right hand corner, winger Nathan Saliamungo tapped it back straight into the hands of second rower James Cochran as he was powering towards the line and a try. Rory converted and the score was Rivers 24 Noosa 10.
Shortly after a Rivers error turned the ball over to Noosa in good field position and by the end of the set Noosa had scored and converted reducing the Wolves lead to 24 to 16.
With 25 minutes to go Noosa were again down in the Wolves half, put a poor cross field kick in on the last, got to it and kicked it again, and managed to dive on it just inside the dead ball line. The try was converted and the Wolves slender lead was now 24 to 22.
With 17 minutes to go another error made by a tiring Wolves outfit invited Noosa back up Rivers end. Defence by the Wolves through the next set was solid but the kick on the last went at breakneck speed into a Rivers player and rebounded miraculously into the arms of a Noosa player heading at speed to the try line. Noosa converted and suddenly the Wolves trailed 28 to 24.
What else could go wrong? We were about to find out. With 15 minutes to go forward Jay Allery was sin binned for coming into a tackle as second man around the legs of an opposition player. The Wolves accepted the challenge and fought hard for the next 10 minutes, down a player. They got through that period without any points being scored and Jay came back on with 5 mins to go.
It was difficult to believe the tiring Wolves team could score a match winning try, tut the old heads in the crowd saw the fog rolling in and nodded knowingly that Noosa were not just playing the Wolves, there were other forces at work here.
A number of errors were costing the Wolves but finally they worked their way down towards the Noosa line. With two minutes to go the Wolves had the ball about 20 metres out from the posts. The ball came left to Callum Klein and the frustration of sitting on the sideline with injury for weeks appeared to come to a head as he stepped back inside, dummied, palmed off players and all but ran through players to score that elusive try.
Okay, it was now 28 to 28, over to you Rory McLeod. The kick was from 10 to 15 metres left of the posts and hardly any pressure at all. Rory nailed it to take the score to Rivers 30 Noosa 28 and a few tackles later the Wolves were home for their first A Grade win of the season and a rendition of that team song.
In the Reserve Grade both sides had their opportunities early but it was Noosa scoring first in the 13th minute to lead 4 nil. Rivers built momentum and finally with 18 minutes to go in the first half, five eighth Scott Floss put in a neat grubber for centre Connor Jackson to dive on and score. Travis Ellis converted and the Wolves led 6 to 4.
With eight minutes to go in the first half and the Wolves attacking the line, the ball came back from the right hand side across the backline and into the hands of Ashley Sleeman who stepped through defenders and scored under the posts. Travis converted and Rivers led 12 to 4.
With three minutes to go Connor Jackson made a determined long break up the left of the field. Next play prop Henry Harris took a solid hit up towards the posts and in the following play the ball went through the hands to the right for winger Josh Lewis to score in the corner on his debut. Travis converted and Rivers led 18 to 4.
With seconds remaining in the half the Wolves were again on the attack and Travis Ellis provided a good ball for Ashley Sleeman to score his second try, Travis converted and the score at the break was Rivers 24 Noosa 4.
Five minutes into the second half Scott Floss made a strong run towards the Noosa line and got a ball off to Connor Jackson who scored in the corner. Travis converted and the Wolves led 30 to 4.
There was then a period of play where both teams defended well and the Wolves attack was breaking down a bit at critical times. However, with eight minutes to go Darren Pereira changed all that with a typical strong run from 20 metres out and scoring. Travis missed his first goal all day and the full time score was then 34 to 4.
It was a good win with contributions from lots of players as a full bench got plenty of game time. Well done Wolves.
This Saturday, 15th May, Rivers travel to Nambour to take on the Nambour Crushers with the Reserve Grade starting at 4pm and the A Grade at 5:30 pm. If you can get there, get along and support the mighty Wolves.