Gladstone touch star Matt Baker
Gladstone touch star Matt Baker

Baker shows his class


LIFE just keeps getting better for Gladstone touch football star Matt Baker, who shone for Central Queensland Open men's team against the Australian Open at Runaway Bay last weekend.

The talented 20-year-old was the only Gladstone-based player in the strong CQ team who won one of their three challenge matches against the powerful Australian team.

It proved to be a tight series, with the Central Queenslanders bouncing back from a game one loss to win the second 7-6.

With the series on the line, CQ put in a great effort, but a late try resulted in a tight 6-5 loss.

The special challenge series was organised by Australian skipper Gavin Shuker and gave Baker the opportunity to display his wares against the country's best.

"I had a great time down there, to play against Australia's best and perform well was fantastic,'' Baker said.

"Just to be part of the whole weekend was a real buzz and the CQ boys were great.

Baker said to lose the last game by the narrowest of margins was a big disappointment, but added the experience of the weekend was invaluable. "We could have beaten them in that last game, but that happens, to get that opportunity was the main thing,'' he said. One thing Baker certainly wasn't lacking on the Gold Coast was fitness, with the well-spoken athlete combining the sports of touch with rugby league.

For those people who didn't know, Baker is Wallabys skilful five-eighth, a position he shone in as the defending premiers hopped into the CQ Extended League A grade decider in 2005.

Even though his team didn't taste ultimate glory, Baker was pleased with his own form overall in this past season. "I was pretty happy with my own form considering it was my first A grade year.

"The year would have been even better if we won the grand final though,'' he said.

Baker now takes a break from both sports, with his next major carnival, the National Touch League Championships at Coffs Harbour in March.

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