24 August, 2023
Wolves ready for Bribie challenge
THE Stanley River Wolves are aiming to be the first team to qualify for the Sunshine Coast Gympie Rugby League (SCGRL) reserve grade grand final, as they contest the Bribie Island Warrigals in Saturday’s major semi-final at Bernie Foley Oval.
While the winner of the top-of-the-table clash is through to the decider, the losing team will contest the winner of this Saturday’s minor semi-final featuring the third-placed Beerwah Bulldogs and fourth-placed Kawana Dolphins.
The Warrigals have had an unbeaten year so far while the Wolves have lost only once, with this occasion occurring back on May 27 when Bribie beat them 26-10.
While the Warrigals had a bye last Saturday in week one of the finals, the Wolves trounced Beerwah 46-16 at the Woodford Showground while Kawana beat the fifth-placed Noosa 36-16 in an elimination semi-final on Kawana soil.
The match at Woodford featured only one try in the first 19 minutes as an arm-wrestle developed, before tries became more frequent as the game opened up.
Stanley River’s John Snow scored the first try around the eight-minute mark before tries to Tom Matthews, Daemon Cruise and Daniel Brooks helped the team to a 24-0 lead while Cruise was on target with his goal-kicking.
The hosts conceded a silly penalty in the last minute of the first half, and then failed to defend properly as the ball went loose before the visitors scored a try.
The Wolves still held all the aces as they led 24-4 at half-time, but then they conceded a string of penalties in the first 16 minutes of the second half.
During this period, the Wolves had only one set in possession, and turned over the ball on the third tackle.
Some of the penalties appeared highly contentious, and the Bulldogs worked their way back into the match as converted tries to Kaleb Coolwell and Riley McMillan pruned the margin to eight points with about 26 minutes remaining.
Stanley River co-coach Ethan Szendrey said afterwards, “I had my heart in my mouth for a minute.”
The Wolves regained their mojo as Steven Torrens, James Cochran, Ivan Mori and Henry Harris scored a try each in the space of 12 minutes to ensure the home side won comfortably.
Torrens’s try was a memorable moment in his 100th senior appearance for the club, having played for the Wolves as a junior before chalking up a century of games across C grade, reserve grade and A grade.
With a number of former Bulldogs lining up for the Wolves, one of them – Jamie Newton – was targeted with rough treatment but he did his best to focus on playing football rather than lose his cool.
Szendrey expressed disapproval with some of the refereeing decisions in the second half, but he said he wouldn’t use refereeing as an excuse.
“Straight after half-time some calls went against us, (but) we’re a good enough side to defend it,” he said.
“We let in two tries we shouldn’t have let in.”
Szendrey also said “we gave away a couple of penalties we shouldn’t have” and that the Wolves couldn’t afford to get too frustrated.
“You can’t change a referee’s mind,” he said.
Szendrey said the Wolves should definitely be raring to go for this Saturday, while he recalled Stanley River’s sole loss of the year.
“It was probably our worst game of the year,” he said.
The score was 10-all before the Warrigals scored three unanswered tries to win by 16 points, with Szendrey recalling this “blew the score out worse than the game reflected” while Stanley River had a couple of tries disallowed.
“We’ve got to respect Bribie, they’re a good side,” he said.
“We’ve got to turn up and play good footy.”
Szendrey said the Wolves needed “to be ready to be in an arm-wrestle” for the whole 70 minutes.
The Wolves will be near full strength, with Dalton Smith likely to be away for work while Casey Gray returns.
Szendrey said he was confident the Wolves would win if they stuck to their structures and discipline.