By Casey O'Connor
Wattles hopes of an appearance in the 2019 Premiership are still alive after a gutsy win in a high scoring game against the Dalby Diehards last Sunday at Clive Berghofer Stadium.
Wattles won a torrid battle 36-30 after 80 minutes of top-class football.
Dalby put first points on the board shortly after kick off when five eighth Travis Babbington scored to give the Diehards a 4-0 lead.
Dalby looked certain to extend that lead when Corey Blades intercepted a ball. In the play that followed, only a desperate tackle from Wattles fullback Andrew Richardson who was able to hold Kruse Turner up over the line saved the day.
Duggan’s towering kicks were proving a problem for Dalby and another error allowed Travis Burns to put Ty Gardner into a hole and give Wattles a 6-4 lead.
Michael Pearson try extended the lead shortly after and at the 23-mark Wattles held a 12-4 lead when Duggan’s pin point kicking added the extras.
Richardson was in for his second within minutes after Burns notched up another try assist.
When Ty Gardner crossed for his second try Burns had his third try-assist of the evening, giving Wattles a commanding 24-4 lead. With half-time in sight Burns was orchestrating play beautifully in conjunction with Duggan and his forwards.
With the lead at 24-4 and only one minute to half time the Diehard’s captain Steve Franciscus put his pedal to the metal and streaked away evading defenders to score. With the successful conversion the half time score was 24-10 and Dalby were still in the fight.
The game became developed into an arm wrestle in the opening minutes of the second half as neither side was able to get the ascendency.
Dalby had a full set of six at Wattles end of the field twenty minutes into the half and they were finally able to break the defence. Fergus Gibson one of the Dalby bench players dived over and scored next to the post. Dylan Taylor converted and the margin was reduced to 24-10.
Wattles picked up the intensity and hit back with a good try to Michael Marshall. The Duggan conversion was never in doubt and Wattles skipped away again to a lead 30-16.
Dalby was not going to die wondering and were the next to score when Blades put Gaur away for a four pointer and the score was back to 30-20.
There would be more twists before the full-time siren with tries to Wattles Brayden Wilson and then Alex Ambia gave the Dalby fans hope when he scored. Off the boot of Duggan Wattles had a 36-24 lead.
A try on the point of full time to Dalby’s Blake Mara would not have impressed the Wattles’ coaching staff. The successful conversion reduced the margin to 36-30 but the game was gone. The Warriors are through to the preliminary final searching for successive grand final appearances in two weeks time. Firstly however, Wattles face Valleys in the Preliminary final this Sunday – a game which many predicted would be the grand final match up.
Although it was a good win on Sunday you feel there is still improvement in Wattles who had several players suffering the effects of the flu. One of those, Mitch Koina had solid game especially in the second half.
Wattles co captains Dale Perkins and Ryan Duggan showed lead from the front in a solid performance.
WATTLES 36 (Ty Gardner 2, Andrew Richardson, Michael Pearson, Michael Marshall, Braydon Wilson tries; Matt Duggan 6 goals) defeated DALBY 30 (Alex Ambia 2, Travis Babbington, Steve Franciscus, Fergus Gibson, Mike Gaur tries; Dylan Taylor 2, Blake Mara goals)