WHAT a rugby league weekend for Glen Innes’s Stapleton boys.
In Brisbane, Nathan Stapleton starred for the Cronulla Sharks in their big win over the baby Broncos at Suncorp Stadium, taking a second-half intercept to race 85m and score the match-deciding try.
That was amongst some brilliant work on the ground and in the air on the Sharks wing, helping them to equal second on the NRL ladder with the Canterbury Bulldogs.
At home his older brother, Brett, scored five tries for the Glen Innes Magpies in their 62-20 thrashing of reigning premiers Inverell.
That win took the Magpies to 18 on the first grade table, four points behind competition leaders Guyra and two behind the vanquished Hawks.
The 12-try romp was the Magpies’ best effort of the season and highlighted by Stapleton’s quintet of tries, including a couple of long-range efforts and a great chip and chase four-pointer early in the second half.
“Today’s effort was pleasing,” Magpie coach Dale Keegan said afterwards.
“We had to step up a rung at this stage of the season and we did.
“We’re getting fitter and I’m really happy for those who are doing extra work – it’s starting to show.”
Stapleton, who played on the wing like his younger Sharkie brother, opened the scoring in the fourth minute when he sped down the left touchline.
Tries to Joel Jackson (two), Jamie Watts, Stapleton and half Nick Say took Glen to a 28-nil lead after 24 minutes despite missing their first four conversion attempts.
Say took over the goal kicking duties and landed seven of eight conversion attempts.
Inverell looked down as they took the re-start but, to their credit, they posted the next two tries to hard-working hooker Nathan Tolley, the first of a double, and to winger Harold Duncan who soared above the pack to grab a bomb.
Brett Watts and Stapleton crossed in the first four minutes of the second half to keep the Magpies’ momentum flowing but Inverell came back through tries to Mitch Porter and Tolley before Glen posted the final three to run away with the game.
Glen gained the early high ground with plenty of possession, some hard-hitting in defence that produced several turnovers and a run of penalties and they didn’t look like relinquishing their advantage at any stage.
“We broke their backs in that first quarter,” Keegan said.
“We’ve improved but we have to keep getting better because the other sides are, too.”
Glen had a host of excellent performers including Stapleton, Say, second-rower Adam Shaw and prop Mone Loketi.