Norths A-Grade captain Chris Scanlan was impressed with his team’s speed as footy returned to the North Ipswich Reserve. Picture: David Lems
Norths A-Grade captain Chris Scanlan was impressed with his team’s speed as footy returned to the North Ipswich Reserve. Picture: David Lems

Norths captain eager to make most of his final season

HAVING been with Norths Tigers on and off since he was six, captain Chris Scanlan was happy to be considered one of the Tigers old boys.

Given it could be the 34-year-old second rower's last season of A-Grade, he wants to enjoy every moment of this year's rescued footy season.

After all the recent COVID-19 uncertainty, Scanlan was pleased to see the 2020 Tigers side display some early promise in their comprehensive 48-12 victory over the Gatton Hawks at the North Ipswich Reserve.

"It blew out the cobwebs a fair bit,'' the football warrior said after the first match of the new Volunteers Cup competition between Ipswich and Toowoomba sides.

"It was a good hit-out really.''

With four of the six teams qualifying for the semi-finals in October, the former Ipswich Jets footballer said the main focus was getting back on the footy field.

"We really didn't mind if we won or lost,'' he said.

"It was good to get the win but we were just trying to start forming some combinations . . . and just wanted to see where we are at.''

The Tigers speed out wide immediately made an impact.

"It was very impressive,'' Scanlan said.

"We had a good combination of slow people and fast people . . . but it was real good.''

The loyal Norths campaigner appreciated having another experienced stalwart Tonga Mounga helping the charge of the old brigade.

"We won back-to-back premierships there so we have a really good connection,'' Scanlan said.

"For me and T (Tonga) I think it will be our last year seeing that we can play masters next year.''

Scanlan said Mounga brought "reliability you need'' to the side.

Norths Tigers A-Grade rugby league players ponder their promising first half of the new Volunteers Cup competition. Picture: David Lems
Norths Tigers A-Grade rugby league players ponder their promising first half of the new Volunteers Cup competition. Picture: David Lems

Having six different Norths try scorers in the opening clash was also encouraging for the skipper.

That featured doubles to hooker Dylan Martin, "exceptional'' fullback Luke Self on debut and second rower Anava Fesolai.

"We got a bit carried at the end there and started dropping the ball,'' Scanlan said.

"But for the majority of the game, we were completing. I'm happy with that.''

As a player loyal to Norths, Scanlan also welcomed head coach Mick Newton back.

"He doesn't do anything more special than other coach but the boys just follow him and listen to him,'' Scanlan said, appreciating Newton's involvement.

The first round of matches were played on a North Ipswich Reserve field so lush Rugby League Ipswich board member Darren Boettcher said he could bring a pillow and sleep on the lush surface.

It only took three minutes for Martin to score the first try in the new Volunteers Cup format between Ipswich and Toowoomba sides.

Norths raced to 16-0 lead with Mounga dominating early play.

Winger Jonathan Plumb and Self joined Mounga in giving the Hawks an early lesson in scoring out wide.

Gatton finally put points on the board at 16-6 when fullback Tyson White secured a favourable bounce off a kick to sprint untouched to the tryline.

But Norths hit back straight away with another try out wide to extend their advantage to 22-6 after a successful conversion.

Gatton kept themselves in the game scoring just before halftime after a determined burst by lock Shannon Hicks to roll over and get the ball down to make it 26-10.

Five-eight Dylan Flanagan's conversion made it 26-12 heading into halftime.

In the second half, Norths consolidated their strong position with Martin diving across to extend lead to 30-12.

Self crossed for his second try under the posts before Fesolai made a powerful run to put his side up 42-12 before another successful conversion by Mounga.

Winger Isiah Balogh finished off great backline move to put Norths up 48-12.

Mounga's conversion attempt was just short, denying the Tigers a 50 point haul in their first game back.

Norths tackle Goodna in a classic second round battle after the Eagles outclassed Valleys 38-18.

Norths Tigers 48 (Dylan Martin 2, Luke Self 2, Anava Fesolai 2, Tonga Mounga, Jonathon Plumb, Isaiah Balogh tries; Tonga Mounga 6 goals) def Gatton Hawks 12 ( Tyson White, Shannon Hicks tries; Dylan Flanagan two goals).