No longer invincible, Goodna Eagles hit back hard
HAVING responded strongly from their first defeat, the Goodna Eagles return home next weekend with plenty to ponder.
They are not invincible.
However, the Rugby League Ipswich Volunteers Cup pacesetters beat West End 28-16 in the blustery Toowoomba conditions a week after being ambushed 28-24 by the Norths Tigers.
While coach Alistair Taua'aletoa said that defeat helped his team remain focused, he was eager to keep his side together with two rounds before the semi-finals.
"Staying injury free is probably our main goal at the moment,'' Taua'aletoa said, preparing for Goodna's turn to host next Saturday's Round 9 clashes at Woogaroo Field.
"We still have quite a few guys out.''
The coach was closely monitoring injured captain Ramon Filipine (hamstring soreness) and vice-captain Kaustio Magele (shoulder) who sat out the last game against the Bulldogs.
The experienced pair have integral roles leading this year's Goodna side which is showcasing some outstanding junior promise.
That made taming the dangerous Bulldogs more important in Saturday's latest clash with two games before the finals.
"We're happy with the result but we still have a lot of work on,'' Taua'aletoa said.
"There was a lot of pressure back on us to get back in the winner's circle and I think the boys responded well enough.''
The Goodna coach took something out of going down to the motivation-charged Tigers.
"Norths were definitely better than us on the day. They responded better to the conditions,'' he said.
"I'd rather lose now than in the semis or in the big dance (grand final).
"It was really humbling for the guys to just let them know we are not invincible.''
In Saturday's windy conditions on the range, Taua'aletoa used six substitutes in the first 25 minutes.
"It was pretty energy-sapping,'' he said.
Having returned to the club this year, Eagles interchange player Saunda Seumanutafa made the difference.
The lock scored either side of halftime to ensure Goodna kicked on this week instead of being held scoreless as they were in the second half by Norths.
Dependable centre Elone Taufa also crossed for a double.
Taua'aletoa praised lock Lele Ioane and Mika Iakopo, off the bench, for strong games as the Bulldogs made a mini-comeback as they often do.
Goodna hosts the next round of Volunteers Cup matches on Saturday at the club's Woogaroo Field base. The Eagles tackle Gatton in their 5.30pm clash.
"We wanted to have a little bit of momentum to make sure that next week at home will be a successful one for us,'' he said.
After upstaging Goodna in the previous round, Norths went down 26-18 to home side Valleys.
In a battle between the teams chasing second spot, Norths trailed 26-14 with 10 minutes left before a consolation try from Nathan Stephenson.
In a much needed result, Gatton came from 20-12 down to beat Souths 28-20.
Both teams remain at the bottom of the table along with West End.
STATE OF PLAY
RLI Volunteers Cup Rd 8: Goodna 28 (Saunda Seumanutafa 2, Elone Taufa 2, Chris Schwalger tries; Bessie Toomaga-Aufaga 4 goals) defeated West End 16 (Isaiah Asiata, Sione Foueti, Fakahoko Teutau tries; Bernard Mosby 2 goals).
Gatton 28 (Tyson White 2, Joel Brett, Wilson Kama, Jayden Williams tries Dylan Flanagan 1 goals) defeated Souths 20 (Ben Howard 2, Jordan Croker, Jacob Whittaker tries; Matt Duggan 2 goals).
Valleys 26 (Alex Hinch 3, Chris Chalmers, Dwayne Duncan tries; Josh Chappell 3 goals) defeated Norths 18 (Richie Lowe, Anava Fesolai, Ethan Page, Nathan Stephensen tries; Tonga Mounga goal).
Next games: Saturday at Richardson Park, Woogaroo Field (Goodna's home ground)
1.30pm: Valleys v West End
3.30pm: Norths v Souths
5.30pm: Gatton v Goodna
Ladder: Goodna 14 (Diff +112), Valleys 12 (+90), Norths 10 (+4), West End 4 (+12), Souths 4 (-104), Gatton 4 (-114).