Travis Burns landed four goals for Wattles in the loss to Gatton at Cahill Park on Sunday.
Travis Burns landed four goals for Wattles in the loss to Gatton at Cahill Park on Sunday. Kevin Farmer

Wattles coach won't blame injuries for team loss

RUGBY LEAGUE: The Wattles A-grade side's 2019 wake-up call arrived in the form of a scream on Sunday at Gatton league hub Cahill Park.

The Toowoomba Rugby League Hutchies Cup premiership leaders crashing to a loss after scoring five tries to eight by Gatton.

The Gatton Hawks won convincingly 51-28.

Disappointed player/coach Travis Burns congratulated his opponents. "The Hawks played well today, they are a better side than their position on the premiership ladder indicates,” he said.

Gatton coach Shaun Hobson's Hawks certainly answered the call given his comments in the Wattles clash lead up after his side's 50-10 loss to the Valleys Roosters the week prior when he said "Gatton have to decide if they wish to be pretenders or contenders in 2019.”

While he is well aware of the Railway Hotel, Allora, Wattles' injury burden currently, Burns would not offer that as an excuse in any way for his Warriors second loss in the initial eight matches of the season.

"Injuries are part of the game,” said the experienced mentor.

"We haven't been playing our best footy of late, but the team we fielded against Gatton is a very capable outfit, it didn't go our way on Sunday”

Wattles came so close to putting the initial stamp on the game in just the second minute when a Burns pass had prolific try-scoring winger Braydon Wilson heading in to the south-east corner of Cahill Park, the try attempt failing however.

Five-eighth Andrew Richardson impressed in his first run in Wattles halves, but he showed plenty of ability across the game combining with former NRL star Burns.

His trysaving chase and tackle in the third minute quashing a home side runaway, however the Hawks roll on delivered a touchdown just a minute later by slick winger Jayden Williams.

The Hawks enthusiasm and go forward had the Warriors back peddling in the early stages as they ran in another two tries to lead 18-0 by the 17th minute.

Back-rower Ty Gardner crossed finally to register the Warriors on the scoreboard trailing 18-6 midway through the first stanza.

Minutes later Richardson was denied a try running off Burns to no avail.

Nippy Hawks fullback Tyson White was too good for the chasers in the 24th minute to add to the home side total, and when a Wattles line drop out fell short the resulting penalty kick saw Gatton take up a 26-6 lead.

Wattles kept a grip on the game shirt tail when fullback Nathan Gaulton touched down under the crossbar after handy lead-up work by bookend Michael Pearson and Burns.

Braydon Wilson showed plenty of strength, speed and determination along with a mighty fend to beat three opponents and a 35-metre sideline charge to run in his team's third four-pointer.

Events resulting from the following restart did Wattles no favours, and while errors unfolded for both sides, a penalty against the Warriors was well within kicking range and presented two more points to have the home side leading comfortably at the halftime break 28-18.

The Warriors second half start wasn't as desireable as it could have been, fullback Gaulton leaving the field injured minutes into the new half followed by the sin-binning of Burns.

An encouraging break up the granstand sideline had Braydon Wilson tryline bound but the Gatton cover put paid to another touchdown opportunity on half way.

When Gatton Hawks skipper Michael Frohloff ran in a try 11 minutes after the restart to have his side ahead 32-18 the sun appeared to be setting on the Warriors victory chances.

The Hawks found the tryline three more times before fulltime with a double by Tyson White and another by back rower Shannon Hicks.

Wilson claimed his second try of the game in the 63rd minute, while high performing hooker Matt Richards forced his way over as the match came to a close to give the Wattles total a little more respectability.

Richards impressed throughout, filling the dummy-half roll admirably in the absence of usual hooker Joe Morris, and was rated Wattles player of the match, with front-rower Michael Pearson, Braydon Wilson and Andrew Richardson also among the best in green and gold.

Wattles visions of a Madsen-Rasmussen mid-year final appearance at Toowoomba's Clive Berghofer Stadium on June 23 are still a strong possibility, but the loss also places their opportunity in the hands of other clubs.

The Warriors take on the Brothers Leprechauns this Sunday at Glenholme Park where a victory is vital. A loss followed by a bye round with no premiership points available could well see Wattles tumble out of final contention.

Injury concerns remain a headache for coach Burns, with Central Crows halfback Matt Duggan, former Wynnum and State League centre Jake Hargreaves, winger Blake Lollback, co-captain Ryan Duggan and hooker Joe Morris, all key faces in Burns top team, all missing against Gatton and facing an absence of another two or three weeks.

Under 18 high achiever Matt Christensen has been outstanding in his top-grade outings this season but he missed the Gatton fixture with an ankle problem and so is another on Burns' list of unavailable players.

Scores: Gatton 51 (Tyson White 3, Jayden Williams 2, Tyrell McCullagh, Michael Frohloff, Shannon Hicks tries; Hayden Lipp 5, Tyson Mitchell 4 goals; Hayden Lipp field goal) defeated Wattles 28 (Braydon Wilson 2, Ty Gardner, Nathan Gaulton, Matthew Richards tries; Travis Burns 4 goals)