The Fighting Miners failed in their quest to win back-to-back premierships when they were defeated by the Puckapunyal Boars 6-5 in a quagmire at Puckapunyal last Saturday.
Torrential rain had covered the playing surface with about 50mm of water which soon cut up to become a quagmire. Adding to the difficult conditions were intermittent downpours and a strong wind.
The Miners had first use of the wind and were soon made aware that the Boars had come to play with spirit and determination. The normally dominant Miners’ scrum was shunted in the first two encounters.
Throughout the first half, the Boars dominated field position and possession. The Miners’ ball retention was poor as passes were pushed, catches spilled and lost in contact. The Boars capitalized on this superiority with a penalty goal in the 30th minute to set up a 3-0 lead at the interval.
The Boars stretched their lead with a second penalty goal early in the second half.
From this point onwards, the Miners lifted their intensity. Inspired by some dominant tackles by the Tuitupou brothers, the Miners brought themselves back into the contest.
They finally troubled the scoreboard attendant in the tenth minute of the second half when centre Michael Crichton scored a try in the corner after a crisp passing movement by the backs.
Bendigo continued to press forward with Jesse Tuitupou, Konrad Fepuleai and Johneen Fagavao making strong runs.
They were rewarded with a penalty goal opportunity in the midway through the half in a handy position but the kick went wide.
From this point on, play rarely moved out of the area between the quarter lines as the two teams slogged it out in the mud.
The Tyson’s Reef Hotel player of the day award went to Jesse Tuitupou. Others to shine included Fepuleai, Nick Dehnert, Elson Tuitupou, Johneen Fagavao and Michael Crichton.
Scorer: Crichton try.
Team: 24 N. Poingdestre, 2 E. Tuitupou, 3 J. Tuitupou, 4 N. Dehnert (c), 5 B. Westley, 6 A. Saville, 7 D. Fallaver, 8 K. Fepuleai, 9 S. MacDonald, 10 Jon Solomon, 11 J. Learai, 12 J. Fagavao, 13 M. Crichton, 14 Jeremy Solomon, 15 J. Manderson.
Replacements: T. Henderson, L. Tuitupou, S. McGrail, S. Fagavao, P. Thomas.
Reserves: T. Mulvaney, J. Jeffries, S. Queally
Emergencies: L. Eriksen, N. Whittle, V. Liufau
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