'Woods' are Panthers only rivals

THE opposition are no closer to matching Springfield in the Challenge Cup.

That is bad news for the likes of Lowood Tarampa and Rosewood, given that the Panthers remain unbeaten.

Springfield escaped with a 28-22 defeat of Lowood Tarampa on Saturday, but it wasn’t as close as the final score indicated.

“Not too bad,” was how Panthers coach Matt Gordon rated the win.

“We slipped back a bit into their game. We were going well.

“I think we were 18 points clear, but we fell back into a few of their niggling tactics.”

Springfield lost star forward Zeb Nuuola after 10 minutes (ankle injury) and five-eighth Matt Ralph with a hamstring injury that could keep him sidelined for some time.

However, Gordon was happy to have Setu Vai Vai back at right centre after several weeks off.

“He didn’t get much ball in the first half but when he did in the second he scored two tries,” the coach said. “Defensively he was really good as well.”

Despite the close score, Gordon thinks his team has progressed more than its two closest rivals.

“Against Lowood at the start of the year and Rosewood we had to come from behind,” he said.

“On Saturday we led comfortably. It wasn’t our best game but we definitely have improved.”

Springfield plays Laidley at Laidley on Saturday, and then has two weekends off before the semi-finals.

The time off might be seen as a disruption but it is typical of the season. Gordon is confident his players won’t be affected.

“In a normal year I’d say we would be,” he said. “But this year I’d say we’ve adjusted.

“We’re planning on doing some extra training and getting ready for day-time games.”

Gordon is confident his team is on the right track, so long as it sticks to the blueprint.

“I’m pretty happy,” he said.

“When we are executing our strategy and game plan I think we’re doing pretty well.

“We just have to hold the ball and complete our sets.”

When it came to nominating the Panthers’ biggest rival for the title, he couldn’t split the two “woods”.

“I guess it is a two-horse race,” he said. “Rosewood and Lowood have both pushed us on their day. But I can’t choose between them.”

Rosewood and Lowood Tarampa play at Rosewood on Saturday.

In last weekend’s other match, Redbank Plains bounced back to upset Rosewood 36-22.

POINTS UPDATE

Challenge Cup ladder: Springfield 26, Lowood Tarampa 15, Rosewood 15, Redbank Plains 10, Laidley 6.