Devils lead slips after shock loss
COMPETITION is so tight in the Sunshine Coast’s Caloundra RSL Cup one round can make all the difference.
The Gympie Devils rugby league outfit found this out the hard way at the weekend, surrendering its outright lead of the competition after a shock 32-4 loss to the Noosa Pirates.
Gympie lost the physical encounter away at Pirate Park Saturday against its long-term arch rivals.
As a consequence of the defeat, the Devils have slipped to second place on the competition ladder, one point behind newly crowned leaders Caloundra.
It was a bitter blow for the Devils after stealing top spot from Caloundra in a home game against Caloundra at Albert Park a few rounds ago.
Trailing the Devils by a single point is Nambour while Kawana rounds out the top four.
Devils coach John Greensill said the loss was disappointing and despite being hit by injury and the loss of multiple key players, showered Noosa with praise.
“Full credit to Noosa and how they played,” he said.
“They are sitting in fifth position on the ladder and are starting to make a real run while existing as a serious threat.”
Losing a grip on the competition lead has not rattled Greensill.
“It’s not panic stations just yet,” he said.
“It’s one loss and we are still outright second, so we are in touch and there are still plenty of rounds remaining.”
The Devils were still in with a chance against Noosa with the score locked at 4-all at half-time.
But a series of injuries left the Devils’ bench bare and with few interchange options on field.
Ben Harney was sent off the field in a pain after popping his shoulder for a second time this season. He first sustained the injury against Noosa earlier this year.
Greensill said Harney was awaiting an operation to repair ligament damage but fears the injury could be season-ending were well founded.
“It’s a massive loss for us, for sure,” he said.
“It was great to have Ben back but to have this happen a second time is shattering.”
Compounding the injury list was the absence of a number of key players, including Nick Swan, Tobs Viravu, Ben Ashford and Barry Berrigan.
Not having these players on field left the Devils lacking speed and firepower to topple a full-strength Noosa outfit.
“When the injuries started to mount Noosa just pulled away on us,” Greensill said.
“They piled on the points and we just couldn’t stay with them.”
The Devils have a bye this weekend and the timing couldn’t be better.
With players to return from injury with the additional week of rest, the Devils’ stocks should be strengthened ahead of a clash against Nambour in a fortnight.
Winning against Nambour is crucial as one point separates both sides and the potential of slipping outside the top two looms large for Gympie.
“We must win this game to keep pressure on Caloundra,” Greensill said.
More details in The Gympie Times closer to the date.