Big win for Wattles comes at a big price for Liam Ross
RUGBY LEAGUE: Gifted halfback and Wattles' captain Matt Duggan may have led his National Farmer's Warehouse A graders to a 14-6 victory over a gritty Pittsworth Danes outfit at Platz Oval in what could be the toughest challenge to their unbeaten status this season.
But it has come at a significant cost.
With Wattles leading 14-6, pocket battleship and workaholic hooker Liam Ross suffered a match-ending injury in the 67th minute, with a serious knee dislocation that halted the game for more than an hour.
Possibly the most under-rated hooker in the Toowoomba Rugby League, Ross punches well above his weight in his all-round efforts, a fearless defender who is always a danger from dummy half and a vital cog in the Warriors' pack.
The gutsy number nine was transferred by QAS to hospital in Toowoomba.
Coach Luke Duggan said Ross would be a significant loss to the line-up. "We wish him a speedy recovery ... it was a very serious injury," Duggan said.
Wattles led 10-0 at halftime; a margin that eventually presented them with their eighth consecutive win, given the interrupted second half battle resulted in a try apiece.
Regardless of the events of the 80-minute journey, the victory books Wattles a start in the prestigious mid-season Madsen-Rasmussen Shield for the first time since 2005.
Australian under-19 rugby union representative Michael Bermingham took player-of-the-match honours, the big man revelling in the tough going in his debut A grade outing that included a vital second half try. "He was more than impressive," Luke said.
"Halfback Matt Duggan and front-rower Pat Manley also led from the front."
It was a significant return to the green and gold for Wattles' Xavier Manley as the Glen McMillan-coached Railway Hotel Allora reserve graders locked up their second victory of the season, downing Pittsworth 24-10.
Manley's ability and experience was a telling addition to the Warriors' line-up, the versatile utility posting a man-of-the-match performance.
Wattles had the better of the first half, leading 18-10 at the break, and defended well in the second stanza to deny the Danes further points.
Back rower Justin Van Der Poel was his usual damaging best, making quality ground with his charging runs, with back row partner Alex Morris also among his side's better performers.
Wattles 24 (Alex Morris, Brodie Frizzell, Jayden Baker, Justin Van Der Poel tries; Brodie Frizzell 3, Will Manley goals) defeated Pittsworth 10.
Wattles' Allora Foodworks under-18s were locked together with Pittsworth 6-all at half time before enjoying the better of the second stanza to win 28-18.
Lock Max Somes steamed on to a pass from five-eighth Joe Morris from 15 metres out to score Wattles' only first half try.
Pittsworth raced to a 24-6 lead after 22 minutes and while the home side ran in two late tries by Mitchell Duff and Sam Weier, it was too little too late.
Forwards Mitchell Duff, Micheal Johnstone and Harry Fulwood impressed throughout.
Pittsworth 28 defeated Wattles 18 (Max Somes, Mitchell Duff, Sam Weier tries; Will Bashford 3 goals).
Wattles head to Dalby to take on the Diehards next Saturday in the final fixture round before the mid-season final.
See previews of both Warwick Cowboys and Wattles Warriors weekend games in the Daily News each Saturday.