20 May, 2024

Roosters claim derby title

LOCAL rivalry between Atherton and Mareeba came to the fore on Sunday, with the Gladiators and Roosters pulling out their best for hundreds of spectators for the second round of the Tableland Cup, with the Roosters finishing on top, 36-18.

Roosters forward Davin Crampton sporting the Millaa Millaa Rugby League reunion jersey charges to the try line.
Roosters forward Davin Crampton sporting the Millaa Millaa Rugby League reunion jersey charges to the try line.

Dominating the first half of the match, the Gladiators made their presence known on the Mungalli Creek Stadium in Atherton, going into the half-time break 14-12. 

Tries were prolific in the first 40 minutes, with Gladiators Hubert Elu, Bronson Ryan and Kyle Hastie all crossing the try line for their team, while Roosters Aiden Day and Scott Bolton scored two for the Atherton side. 

Roosters A Grade coach Joel Riethmuller described his team as feeling “lethargic” and slow to start, but fought back in the second half.

“I think the hardest thing was controlling our emotions in the first half, and a game like this has a lot of emotion in it,” he said. 

“We were channelling that in the wrong direction ... but as we headed into the second half, we put our head down and stuck to the process and were able to turn it all around.”

Up until the last 20 minutes of the game, it was neck and neck, with the Gladiators fighting back against the Roosters, who kept a cool, calm and collected atmosphere on the field. 

Gladiators coach Chris Sheppard showed how it’s done, taking control of the ball in the 60th minute and scoring a try for the team. 

Local Atherton stars Matthew Whybird and Kaleb Nielson and award-winning local Davin Crampton also stepped in the second half, showing their best performance of the season, according to Riethmuller, solidifying their 36-18 win by full-time. 

“We recruited Dav at the beginning of the year and this was his first proper game after some injuries and I think his carries his experience around the middle which really helped a lot,” he said. 

“Neilson had a one-on-one strip and went on to score one off the back of that.

“I think Matty had his best game of the year – he was full of energy, and he played a really good game of footy.” 

With the team spirit bubbling over from the Millaa Millaa Rugby reunion the night before and the excitement of a local derby, Riethmuller said he was impressed with how both teams performed on the field and hoped they could carry that confidence into their next games. 

“They (the Gladiators) always step up when it comes to a derby, and it doesn’t matter where you sit on the table, when the Tablelands Cup comes up, everyone lives for it,” he said. 

“It was a good contest, despite there being a few injuries from them and from us and players not being available.

“And it was a beautiful arvo as well, so I am very pleased.”

In the reserve grade, the Roosters notched up a 28-22 win, while the Under 19s Gladiators took claimed victory with a 24-22 final score.

This week, the Gladiators will take on the Innisfail Leprechauns at home, while the Roosters head to Smithfield to play the Ivanhoe Knights. 


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