24 April, 2023

Gladiators off to rough start in 2023 season

THE Mareeba Gladiators fought valiantly against a more experienced and grizzled Innisfail Leprechauns side during their 50-12 loss on Saturday night.

Gladiators off to rough start in 2023 season - feature photo

The Gladiators fielded possibly their youngest ever side in A-grade against the Leprechauns with 13 players either 21 or younger, the oldest starting forward was 22 and the starting forward pack consisted of two 18-year-olds, a 19-year-old and a 20-year-old.

In inexperience against a tried and tested Leprechauns pack showed early with Innisfail running out to an early lead but the young Gladiators found their groove and got in an arm wrestle for 20 minutes before giving up some late tries in the half.

The second half started a bit slow before the Gladiators took back the ascendancy, scoring two tries, having one disallowed and not finishing two tries. Innisfail then finished the game strong running in late tries.

Best on the field for the Gladiators was Clay George, Caleb Dally, Kyan Sheppard and Hubie Elu, recapturing some of his blistering form after shifting to fullback.

Coach Chris Sheppard said while he was disappointed with the score, some promising green shoots begun to sprout.

"We get some experience back over the next few weeks and the game last weekend will hold our group in really good stead," he said.

"I was encouraged by some of the in-game adjustments they made and the belief they found in different parts of the game."

Sheppard added that effort was not the deciding factor in the game, just inexperience.

"Effort was not a factor in the game, we were beaten by a well-drilled, professional team that showed our young guys how to go about business," he said.

"Our boys will be all the better for that and we look forward to a rematch with the Kangaroos at home next week.

"Three of our first four games have been away so it will be good to get back home and rip in for the home crowd."

The Gladiators will now play host to the Kangaroos at Davies Park this Saturday.


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