Roma overwhelm Bulldogs despite home turf advantage
Rampant Roma Cities played to a familiar script in overwhelming Chinchilla at Bulldog Park last Saturday.
Cities ran in nine tries, an average of one every nine minutes, as they mimicked their 44-0 win over the Bulldogs at Roma last month. After a rare home defeat to Wallumbilla/Surat in the season's opening round they have managed seven successive victories, accumulating 386 points, to lead the premiership race.
Cities had not forgotten Chinchilla's 4-0 record in 2018 match-ups, ending with the preliminary final when they tackled their rivals to a standstill.
Fullback Jackson Green's converted try two minutes after the start was a clear statement of intent by Cities. When, in the 11th minute, Matt Roberts doubled the lead the game was getting away from the premiers.
By half-time Alex Coonan, Alistair Lobb and Billy Coonan had extended the margin to 26. Two minutes after the break referee John Guymer interrupted a scuffle to sin-bin Green and Chinchilla winger Matt Edwards.
Matthew Waites added to Cities' tally within a minute before Damon Qualischefski, backing up from the Under-18 fixture, Tom Barron and the returning Green joined the party. Green's three conversions brought his game score to 14.
Before a ball was kicked this season the scuttlebutt was that Cities' recruitment officer had been busy in the off-season. Clearly, this team from cattle country is a different beast. The backline is quick and and creative, the forwards unrelenting.
According to Kelvin Bella, president of rivals St George, the title is Cities to lose.
Chinchilla chased shadows for much of the game without quite grasping the substance. Defensive lapses were costly with several of Cities' tries starting deep in their own half. Twice the visitors dropped the ball over the line.
Garrad Brewer, despite an early handling error, was solid at the back for the Bulldogs while Jye Polkinghorne, Anthony Horswood, Hayden Bender and Bart Dickman, who split Cities defence with a fine burst after Simon Colls' strong run, were among the team's more effective tacklers.
Cities' forwards, hunting in twos and threes, stifled Chinchilla's excursions to the red zone. It wasn't subtle and only rarely did the Bulldogs appear likely to score. The tackling of both sides throughout a game played in good spirit was hurtful.
Given Cities' exploits against other sides this season Chinchilla's effort indicated they are capable of better things, albeit against lesser opponents, in coming weeks. Taroom/Wandoan's withdrawal from the A-grade competition to form a composite Reserve grade team with Miles means that just one of the remaining five clubs will miss the play-off series in August.
Chinchilla will not want to be that team.
In the other senior-grade match played on Saturday Mitchell had a 10-point win over Wallumbilla/Surat at the Mitchell RSL Sports Complex. The 36-26 scoreline was unsurprising in a season of bizarre happenings.
Chinchilla's well-documented team problems caused officials to worry over a possible shortage of Reserve grade players for the clash with Cities. Their fears proved groundless.
The Reggies, though beaten 56-10, offered a chance to several players who, perhaps, had been away from the game.
Chinchilla's much-travelled Under-16's kept the scoreboard humming in their 60-8 defeat of Cities while the Under-18's lost an entertaining clash with the Roma side, 28-18.
For all the Bulldog Park action, take a look at our photo gallery bellow: