League giants grit teeth for tough rematch
By CRAIG ROSScraigr@gladstoneobserver.com.au
THERE'S no easing their way back in for Wallabys and Gladstone Brothers players when the CQ Extended League A grade premiership resumes this weekend.
The two competition heavyweights come face to face again at Marley Brown Oval tonight, just two weeks after their mighty struggle in the Gladstone Rugby League pre-season final, won 24-18 by Wallabys.
A depleted Brothers pack will have to produce a big performance without front-row bookends Ben Bultreys and Chris Johnson.
The powerhouse pair are carrying injuries received in the last clash against Wallabys with Johnson (broken sternum) expected to be out of action for six weeks and Bultreys (fractured hand) three.
Forced to reshuffle his pack, Brothers coach Matt Jones said he would be forced to go into the match with his interchange bench 'a bit light-on.'
However, he was confident the club had sufficient player depth to cover the crisis which has been exacerbated by the fact that hard-running utility Leif Audet is likely to retire with a neck injury which has limited his appearances this season. 'We'll need Clint Doherty to really stand up and for the other forwards to follow suit,' Jones said.
The Brethren will also miss centre/back-rower Nigel Robertson who is competing at the Queensland judo titles this weekend.
Wallabys are expected to be at full strength and with their big forward pack, could prove a nightmare for their Brethren counterparts if given the chance to gain momentum.
Also looking to halt the momentum of a tough pack will be the struggling Valleys side when they take on perennial finalists Rockhampton Brothers at Marley Brown Oval tomorrow.
Valleys coach Aaron Earnshaw will have used the two-week break in the competition to stiffen his forward pack's defence but they are long-shots to overpower their visitors.
In other clashes tonight, Yeppoon hosts Tannum Sands at Webb Park while Biloela travels to take on Fitzroy-Gracemere at Saleyards Park.