Gympie, Noosa rivalry not ending
THE Gympie Devils rugby league side has ensured its rivalry with the Noosa Pirates is not about to come to an end any time soon after an inspirational victory at the weekend.
Playing deep in enemy territory at Pirate Park Saturday evening, the Devils rolled Noosa 22-14 in their first round encounter of the Sunshine Coast competition.
Devils coach John Greensill thoroughly enjoyed the win.
“It was a great performance by the boys and a top start to the season,” he said.
“There is always a lot of feeling playing Noosa, so to beat them away is an excellent result.”
Greensill said the Devils had a few nerves early on but was “relieved” with the winning result.
The eight-point winning margin, however, conceals just how much of an arm wrestle the match was.
Noosa hit the field running shortly after kick-off, scoring two tries in quick succession within the opening 20 minutes.
Leading 8-0 after two failed conversion attempts, the Devils pulled together and launched a swift counter-strike.
“We made a few silly mistakes during the opening stages of the game and that cost us on the scoreboard,” Greensill said.
Piling on two brilliant tries of its own, the Devils nudged ahead at 10-8 before Noosa responded to enter half-time with the advantage, leading 14-10.
Greensill said despite trailing, he was confident the momentum was beginning to swing the Devils’ way.
“I was not all that worried at this stage,” he said.
“It was a bit of an arm wrestle out there but I knew our boys were strong and things were starting to come together out end of the field.”
The second half saw the Devils take their game to another level, combining well both in the forwards and backs.
Another two tries sealed the result, giving way to the final score line of 22-14.
Spearheading the Devils’ scoring blitz was Ben Ashford out wide, who crossed the try line an impressive three times.
Former Devils coach Darren Burns crossed once while Brad English also opened his account for the season with a brilliant try of his own.
While the Devils upstaged Noosa in front of good home crowd support, the victory did come at a cost.
Captain and hooker Ben Harney will be sidelined for six weeks after he popped his shoulder.
Jarrod Gorman joined the injury list with a pulled hamstring, although it remains unclear at this stage how severe the damage is and how long he may be absent from the side.
Greensill said the Devils’ newfound depth and versatility cushioned the impact from the injuries.
“In the past, the side would have been crippled by the injuries because we didn’t have that depth,” he said.
“But now we have options and can slide players around so that when a player is sent off injured, it’s an opportunity for us.”
The elation from the victory now carries the Devils into a new week of training at Jack Stokes.
Players are eager to hit the training paddock this week to cement positions in the A Grade team ahead of a tough assignment this weekend against Nambour.
Gympie fans will have to wait a little longer to see the Devils in action on their home ground with the side again taking to the road for an away game.
“It’s going to be tough because Caboolture was looking to be the team to beat, but Nambour smashed them,” Greensill said.