Pioneers Fall Foul of Rampant Rangers
A rampant Queensland Rangers team has inflicted a heavy 46-16 defeat of the New South Wales Rugby League Pioneers in the inaugural interstate clash at Pizzey Park on the Gold Coast.
Showcasing a team drawn from both the Ron Massey Cup and Newcastle Rebels representative sides for the first time, the Pioneers wasted several attacking opportunities with careless regard for possession early in the game and found themselves trailing 22-0 down at the half-time interval.
Needing to strike first in the second term to work their back into the contest, the Pioneers attacked the Rangers' right-side defence 10 minutes in only for half Brad Murray's intended pass for Jack Miller to be plucked out of the air by Rangers winger Trai Fuller who raced 95 metres to score under the posts.
It was the second of three tries for Fuller as the Rangers exacted some revenge for the heavy defeat they suffered 12 months earlier.
The Pioneers were dealt a blow prior to kick off when Lakes United winger Josh Charles was ruled out with a calf injury, 21-year-old Wentworthville utility Jack Miller promoted to the starting side on the left wing.
With the likes of Tim Robinson, Ryan Walker and Omar Slaimankhel all boasting NRL experience, it was expected the Pioneers would be the more composed of the two sides but it was the Queensland representatives who settled first.
Both teams were guilty of poor handling errors in the opening 10 minutes before 20-year-old Redcliffe Dolphins prop Bailey Butler barged over beside the posts in the 15th minute.
Butler, Aidan Day, Jesse Dee and Chippie Korostchuk gave the Rangers early ascendancy in the middle third of the field and despite the ever-present danger posed by Walker at left centre the Pioneers took until the 60th minute before crossing for their first try.
Spotting an opportunity on a short side, Cabramatta centre Shane Keil Martin took the initiative to barge his way over from close range to give the visitors a brief glimmer of hope with 20 minutes left to play.
Queensland hooker Tristan Hope capped a sparkling performance when he threw a big dummy to the left before diving over the line in the 65th minute to edge the Rangers further in front, Keil scoring his second three minutes later to bridge the gap somewhat.
But if there needed to be any greater sign that wasn't to be the Pioneers' day the subsequent kick-off from the Rangers was allowed to bounce in the swirling conditions, bouncing backwards straight into the arms of Rangers centre Lenny Magey who charged through to score under the posts with barely a hand being laid on him.
The Pioneers posted the final points of the game when Mounties winger Jordan Martin barged his way over in the right corner but it will have done little to soften the disappointment for Brett Cook's men.
Asquith backrower Tom Freebairn was outstanding for the Pioneers on the right edge but missed the final 15 minutes of the game after suffering a head knock in trying to prevent Hope from scoring.
Walker and Keil were the two greatest attacking threats for the Pioneers, Newcastle veteran Warren Schillings got through a mountain of defence and Jack Morris ran powerfully but their poor completion rate from the first half took too great a toll as the match wore on.
QUEENSLAND RANGERS 46 (T Fuller 3 B Butler L Spaander L Fakalelu L Hope L Magey tries Spaander 7 goals) bt NSW PIONEERS 16 (S Kiel 2, J Martin tries B Murray 2 goals) at Pizzey Park, Burleigh.