THE Mareeba Gladiators’ disappointing season continued on Saturday night as they fell 24-12 to Cairns Brothers at Davies Park.
The loss marked three in a row for the Mareeba outfit, and has quelled any chances of a finals berth in 2019.
In what has plagued them all season, the Gladiators got off to yet another poor start, conceding two tries in the opening stages of the match to Brothers front rower Abiu Pearson – and in doing so were forced to play catch-up for the remainder of the match.
To the Gladiators’ credit, they clawed their way back into the match through a try out of dummy half to their fullback Mitchell Brim.
That was quickly followed by an adlib try which saw Ryan Flegler regather a Jayden Edwards kick in the field of play and link up with speedster Eze Harper to score in the corner.
Unfortunately for the home side, both tries went unconverted.
A crucial try to Brothers with less than five minutes to go in the first half meant the away side took an 18-8 lead into the main break.
The second half was a far more gritty affair, as both sides showed resolve defensively on their own line and points proved hard to come by.
That was until Brothers scored a long range try with 14 minutes to go which ensured the away side came away with the two points.
Gladiators centre and captain Trent Barnard scored a consolation try with four minutes to go, setting up a 24-12 fulltime scoreline.
Barnard said his side’s performance was okay.
“It was a slow start as usual and when you’re playing a good side like Brothers you have to be good in every area and we just weren’t tonight,” he said.
“We have too many lapses – we have periods where we play really well but then we’ll follow that up with some really poor play.
“We score a try and then when we get the ball back and try to take it out of our own end, we get too excited and push passes and make errors.”
Barnard said a positive that can be taken out of the Gladiators’ inconsistent season is the progression of their young players coming through the system.
“We’ve got a young side and the positive from this season is that we’re building nicely for next year with this young and enthusiastic crop of young players,” he said.
“Also, we’re playing the top sides and not getting beaten by much and we had nine out – so one thing I will say is that the boys are having a dig for each other which is great to see.”
It was a much more promising result in Reserve Grade, as the Mareeba Gladiators thumped Brothers 60-22.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Gladiators A-Grade side, as they will travel to Mossman this weekend to take on league leaders Mossman-Port Douglas Sharks.