By Jimmy Meiklejohn
Canberra Region Wheelchair Rugby League’s (CRWRL) third round was held at the Queanbeyan Indoor Sports Centre on Sunday afternoon, with a close encounter being played out.
Despite a fantastic performance from the Red Bears team, they were unable to hold off a fast finishing White Bears and ultimately went down 34-24 at the full-time siren.
But the score did not reflect the effort put in, with Jaimz Knight proving to be a valuable addition to the Red Bears offence.
The White Bears were the first to hit the scoreboard, with Brad Burns scoring in the second minute to get his team off to the dream start.
Birthday Boy Zac Carl then further extended their lead, crossing the line in the fifth minute and successfully converting to give the White Bears an early 10-0 lead.
The game then went into a tussle, with 20 minutes of no points being added to the scoreboard, as both teams were able to find themselves in a try scoring position.
Briley Sentance was able to breakthrough for the Red Bears team in the 25th minute and with Chris O’Brien scoring a difficult conversion, the deficit was cut with the Red Bears trailing 10-6 heading into the halftime break.
The opening half was tightly contested, with a much-improved Red Bears side showing a determined effort in order to record their first win of the competition.
Carl opened the scoring in the second half, crossing in the 32nd minute and converting successfully to give the White Bears a 16-6 lead.
Knight, who had been relatively quiet up to this stage, then exploded into gear scoring his first try of the afternoon in an immediate response in the 36th minute.
Knight then calmly slotted the conversion, showing no signs of the inaccuracy which haunted him during the first round, narrowing the margin to 16-12.
However, he was far from done, as he then scored again in the 38th minute and with the successful conversion gave the Red Bears a 18-16 lead.
Another arm wrestle developed, before White Bears captain Toby Popple scored a crucial try in the 47th minute to give his team the lead back, however the conversion was unsuccessful.
Popple’s try gave the White Bears a narrow 20-18 lead, however he then crossed again in the 49th minute, but another wayward conversion only increased their margin to six with a 24-18 lead.
Sentance scored his second try of the afternoon in the 51st minute and levelled the scores with his conversion locking the scores at 24-24.
With the match inside the final ten minutes, the possibility of golden point was becoming very real, with stars Carl and Knight both resting on the bench as the match entered its final stages.
Luke Patterson was left unmarked on the right wing and made the Red Bears pay, scoring his first try of the competition and crucially giving the White Bears a 28-24 lead.
Red Bears threw everything they could to cross the line however were unable to do so. Carl then put the icing on the cake in the 59th minute, scoring his third try of the afternoon under the posts to seal another White Bears victory.
He was also able to convert his third conversion giving the White Bears a 34-24 victory in the process.
Final Score: White Bears 34 (Tries: Z Carl 3, T Popple 2, B Burns, L Patterson; Goals: Z Carl 3) d Red Bears 24 (Tries: B Sentance 2, J Knight 2; Goals: J Knight 2, C O’Brien, B Sentance).
Knight, Sentance and O’Brien were fantastic for the Red Bears team but were well supported by the improved efforts of Michael Skerry and Matt Harden.
Carl increased his tally of tries to 15 after three rounds, with his offence being a key factor in the White Bears dominance over the competition so far.
Carl, Popple, Burns and Patterson were important for the White Bears in offence, however the efforts of Matt Collins and Brigid Baker were equally as important defensively.
Selected players will be in action next weekend, as a representative Rolling Raiders team heads to Shellharbour to play in support of the Country v City clash.
Round Four at the Queanbeyan Indoor Sports Centre caps off a busy four-week schedule for Wheelchair Rugby League taking place on the 23rd of May.
The action will commence at 2pm, with a Red Bears victory seeming to only be a matter of time.
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