THE Mareeba Gladiators A-Grade side secured their first win of the season after they won a two point thriller at home on Saturday night against Southern Suburbs.
The home side’s night started poorly after the Cockatoos scored inside the first five minutes of the match; however a barnstorming run less than ten minutes later by Gladiators front-rower Kurt Jackson tied things up at 6-6.
While Southern Suburbs were next to score, the Gladiators were leading at the halftime break after their five-eighth Jayden Edwards shrugged off four defenders and muscled his way to the line to set up a 12-10 scoreline.
Not long thereafter, a penalty goal by Edwards ensured the men in green and yellow took a 14-10 lead into the main break.
The Gladiators started the second half strong, scoring two quick tries through Edwards once again as well as their captain Trent Barnard.
Suburbs refused to go away however, scoring twice to set up a nail-biting finish that saw the Gordonvale outfit being awarded a penalty goal opportunity with less than 30 seconds to go in the game.
It appeared Suburbs were going to steal a draw away from home, however surprisingly, they hit the post on their penalty goal attempt and the Gladiators were able to hold on for a 22-20 victory.
Gladiators five-eighth Jayden Edwards was one of the home side’s stand-outs, with his performance consisting of two tries and a stellar kicking game that haunted the opposition’s fullback all night.
Edwards credited his success to a strong go-forward from the front row partnership of Kurt Jackson and Ian King along with a strong training session during the week.
“It was really good to work off the back of our forwards tonight, they gave us backs plenty of time and space,” Edwards said.
“And it was good to improve on my partnership with Josh in the halves, we gelled a lot at training during the week and I think that was a big reason we played well.”
Edwards said while it was great to secure the Gladiators first win of the season, there are still errors that needed to be taken out of their side’s game to ensure they can continue their winning ways moving forward.
Gladiators A-Grade captain Trent Barnard said it was a great feeling to finally get two points after what was a hard pre-season.
“In the first couple of rounds we weren’t really playing to our potential,” he said.
“But I thought tonight we played well, it was good to get Kurt Jackson back which gave us some more size and go-forward in the middle.
“When you’re going forward as a team it makes such a difference, as it lays a platform for us backs to take advantage of and that was something we were able to do tonight more so than in our previous games.”
A big talking point over the off-season was the much-needed change in culture at the club, and that shift to a more positive culture is something Barnard noted the club now has in spades.
“A bit of a change in the culture was something this club needed, and we are lucky to have such a good mix of blokes here at the moment,” he said.
“We have some players who have been here for a number of years, some who are just playing their first season with the Gladiators and a few from overseas, and everyone is just getting along and having a good time which is awesome to see.”
In the other fixtures on Saturday night, U18s and Reserve Grade both recorded wins while the Ladies team went down.
The Gladiators will have this weekend off for the Easter break.