Goodna relishes being challenged by Toowoomba’s best
THE high-flying Goodna Eagles enjoyed the new venue as much as the tremendous contest in their latest Rugby League Ipswich Volunteers Cup match.
The Ipswich competition side maintained their six-game unbeaten record with a thrilling 46-40 victory over the Toowoomba competition's best side Valleys.
In the top of the table duel, the Eagles had to hold out their gritty opponents rather than run away with a huge win as they had during previous encounters at the North Ipswich Reserve.
Goodna coach Alistair Taua'aletoa said the trip up the range provided a welcome battle for his team averaging 40 points a game.
"It was a bit of a different challenge,'' Taua'aletoa said.
"They (Valleys) probably executed a lot better than what we expected.
"We probably were a bit flat. Whether it was the travel or the change of venue, they definitely caught us off guard.''
Although disappointed to concede so many points, Taua'aletoa appreciated the tough tussle where Valleys led 12-0, 18-12 and 24-18 at halftime, forcing his players to respond.
Unlike the battle with West End where Goodna captain Ramon Filipine scored in the final seconds to salvage a win, the latest match provided another test of character.
"It's been a couple of weeks since we were pushed like that, since the West End game,'' the Eagles coach said. "So the boys definitely enjoyed the challenge.
"I was really impressed with the way they composed themselves to be able to come back like that.
"We weren't too happy about leaking 40 points but I was definitely happy to get out of there with the win.''
Taua'aletoa said Goodna fielded close to the strongest team it could against Valleys.
Tries to Elone Taufa and Besse Aufaga-Toomaga after the break ignited Goodna's recovery.
Taufa finished with a hat-trick.
"Elone has been really impressive for us,'' Taua'aletoa said.
"He's only 18 turning 19. He's got a big future in front of him.
"He was a real handful for them. Any quality ball we got to him out wide, he capitalised on it.''
After leading 46-36 when John Schwalger scored his second four-pointer, the Eagles conceded a late try to Valleys.
Eagles super boot Aufaga-Toomaga amassed 22 points, featuring two tries and seven goals from eight attempts.
"Our middle has been doing a lot of hard work and our edges have been reaping the rewards,'' the coach said. "That's why all the tries have been scored out wide.''
Fifteen tries were scored in the game, underlining why Goodna and Valleys are setting the standard in the intercity Volunteers Cup series.
"They (Valleys) are a quality side,'' Taua'aletoa said.
"They provide a different set of challenges to what Ipswich sides present.
"They are very fast, real expansive style of play.
"I don't take anything away from them. We were only seven or eight minutes from being on the wrong end of their scorelines.''
Taua'aletoa was also impressed with the Clive Berghofer Stadium where the three Round 6 matches were played after Ipswich had hosted the opening five rounds.
"It was awesome,'' Taua'aletoa said. "We hired a bus to get up there and it's a really lovely venue.
"I thought it was a really big success.''
The Goodna-Valleys clash was the second game in the afternoon of rugby league in Toowoomba.
Norths held out Gatton 18-14 in the first match before West End had another narrow defeat - this time 18-12 to Souths.
The Tigers jumped to equal second on the ladder after needing to dig deep against the Hawks.
After scoring five tries in his previous two matches, Norths speedster Ty Humphries raced away in the 73rd minute to get his team back in front.
As they did against the Bulldogs a week earlier, the Tigers held on late.
Lopi Folau and Kyle Blackman were among the best for Norths.
In the night game, West End were left lamenting another lost opportunity to break their losing streak.
The ill-disclipined West End side led the game for 71 minutes before allowing the home team to secure their second win of the competition.
West End remain stranded on two points with Gatton.
The next round of Volunteers' Cup matches is being played at Norths home ground at North Ipswich.
STATE OF PLAY
Round 6 Volunteers Cup: Goodna 46 (Elone Taufa 3, Bessie Aufaga-Toomaga 2, John Schwalger 2, John Maila tries; Bessie Aufaga-Toomaga 7 goals) def Valleys 40 (Chris Chalmers 2, Brock Diment 2, Dwayne Duncan, Jerome Burns, Hnaloan Budden tries; Dwayne Duncan 5 goals, Josh Chappell goal).
Norths 18 (Nathan Stephensen, Jack Fisher Ty Humphries tries; Tonga Mounga 3 goals) def Gatton 14 (Oliver Bichel, Joel Brett, Jayden Kirner tries; Shannon Hicks 1 goal).
Souths 18 (Blake Lollback 2, Tate McCormick tries; Sam Thompson 2 goals, Alex Dunneman goal) def West End 12 (Sioni Foueti, Tupu Lisiti, Aiden Boyce tries).
Ladder: Goodna 12, Valleys 8, Norths 8, Souths 4, West End 2, Gatton 2.
Next games: Saturday, September 12 at Cribb Park, Norths Tigers ground (Pelican Street, North Ipswich)
1.30pm: Valleys v Souths
3.30pm: West End v Gatton
5.30pm: Norths v Goodna