GLEN Innes, Goondiwindi and Armidale Rams all prevailed when the Group 19 competition kicked back from a representative weekend break on Saturday.
Armidale Rams hosted Tingha and played some good football to win 42-32, the Goondiwindi Boars also travelled to Ashford for a 46-22 win after both sides were locked at 14-all at halftime and Glen Innes scored a 34-20 win over Inverell Hawks in a physical local derby.
Kerry Mead Park, Glen Innes was the venue for one of the toughest games seen in Group 19 for a while.
A tough, physical encounter, the match was punctuated by handling errors and plenty of penalties but the sheer physicality of the encounter always held spectators’ interest.
Jeff Moate’s full-on hits on the bigger Hawks forwards were a highlight as were the two tries scored by the powerhouse prop.
Glen led 18-12 at the break and both sides would have fancied their chances of taking the two points but, in the first set after the kick-off, Moate produced a damaging hit-up.
Two tackles later five-eighth Nick Ehsman sent a smart blindside pass to Craig Browne and the young centre strode clear. Half Nick Say backed up well to finish the movement next to the posts.
“We were always that half step behind them,” Hawks coach Peter Stevens said.
“But we will win plenty of matches.”
No one who saw this Hawks effort will argue that final statement.
Young Glen Innes forward Jock Waters, who is in his second year of first grade football, also testified to the physical side of the game.
“That’s the toughest, most physical game I’ve played in,” he said after the match.
“They are the best side we’ve played so far.”
At Ashford, the Goondiwindi Boars were stunned when the Roosters scored just before halftime to make it 14-all.
“They stuck it to us in the first half,” Boars president Peter Rice said.
“And then scored right on the bell.”
However the Boars rallied and took control in the second half, with Brandon McGrady and captain-coach Cal Skinner leading the way.
Brody McDonald and Matt Lloyd were others to shine for the Boars, with Ronnie Davis also dynamic at lock after impressing with Group 19 at the GN Championships with Skinner the week before.
In contrast, the Armidale Rams were good in the first half but fell away in the second before overcoming Tingha Tigers 42-32.
“We led 32-10 early in the second half,” club president Terry Carson said.
“They (Tingha) scored first but then we took control and started to play well.
“Tingha did score just before half time but we were good in the second half until our discipline fell away.
“We started dropping the ball, making some silly errors and giving away penalties. That invited Tingha back in.”
Rams centre Mitch Cooper starred for the winners.
He bagged four tries with some good moves after captain-coach and halfback Clarrie Moran had set up a couple with some good ball play.
Rams prop Apakuki Mate also impressed, the big Polynesian making some strong carries.