30 May, 2022
Sheppard leads Gladiators to first win
MAREEBA Gladiators coach Chris Sheppard temporarily came out of retirement to join his players on the field on Saturday night as they hosted Cairns Suburbs, claiming an 18-16 win.
The Gladiators showed a dominant performance across all four grades that was yet to be seen by the side as they triumphed over Suburbs.
Sheppard was overwhelmed and overjoyed by all the grade results and their efforts as the Gladiators returned home clear and undisputed winners.
“Outstanding wins across all four grades including the ladies team who won 36-20,” he said.
“The U18s played the type of football they are capable of, winning 56-6 with strong performances from Narry, Leon and Tyrone – they discovered the style of football that suits their team and hopefully they continue this.
“Reserve grade had a number of players back and played really tough to win 24-22 with a special mention to Cue Tokarahi and Afoa Fangupo for their performances.”
The real showstopper of the evening was the A grade match up where Sheppard donned the number six jersey and joined his players on the field.
Sheppard traded in his coaching shoes and tied his cleats for the first time in over a decade as he lined up with his players and coached them to their first win of the season from the pack.
“A grade really turned a corner against a strong forward pack still with a number of players out the team played tough and played for one another and got a strong win,” he said.
“It is the first 80-minute performance and was based on pure effort, that sets the platform for what the team wants to be moving forward and we are excited to be at home next week.
“Every player in the team played well but a special mention to the middles who matched Suburbs and allowed Trezzie, Hubie and Kienan to show their magic.”
Gladiators are looking to push into this weekend’s games against Innisfail with momentum, aiming to secure their second win and set a rhythm for upcoming games.