Kale seizes chance to nail victory
HAVING missed a chance to kick the Fraser Coast Mariners to their first victory of the 2013 Sunshine Coast Rugby Union competition three weeks ago, Kale Hendle was not going to make the same mistake again.
Only this time he was representing Wide Bay and the stakes were a little higher.
In a game that never reached any great heights as a spectacle and was bogged down by mistakes, a late penalty to Hervey Bay's Hendle gave the Whales a 12-11 victory over Central Highlands at Urangan's Walkers Rd on Saturday.
The Whales trailed 11-6 early in the second half, but fought back to notch their first victory of this year's Central Queensland Rugby Championship.
Hendle said landing the match-winning penalty with only a couple minutes remaining helped erase the memory of the missed sideline kick on the siren in the Mariners' 31-30 loss to University on the same field.
"I hit it well and it nearly went over the black dot," Hendle told the Chronicle after the match.
"All I thought was 'just kick the ball' and shut them (memories) out.
"It feels good to finally kick one."
In a match dominated by the boot, the 19-year-old slotted four of his five penalty attempts in blustery cold wind.
Saturday afternoon was so many things for the Whales - thrilling, tough, wild, nerve-racking, and ultimately, pure relief.
Sure it was an ugly win, but given the Whales have waited two weeks to make amends for their 44-5 loss to Rockhampton and was their last game of the campaign, this was a victory they'll savour for quite a long time.
"I thought we were the better side and deserved to win," Whales coach Mark Cassidy said.
"We had a lot of chances, but just couldn't get the ball over the line.
"Our game plan worked well. We had a few dropped balls but it's only our second game as a team so you can expect that sort of stuff, but I was happy with how we generally played."
After two early penalties from Hendle, Central Highlands got on the board with one of their own.
A few minutes later they crossed for the game's only try late in the half to take an 8-6 lead into half-time.
Central Highlands extended the margin to five shortly after the break, before the Whales wrestled back the momentum with Hendle's third penalty.
Wide Bay dominated the rest of the game, but failed to capitalise on a bunch of opportunities, while the visitors were made to pay for its poor discipline, which saw them reduced to 13 men at one stage.
After Hendle's go-ahead penalty late in the match, the Whales had to defend on their line tenaciously but managed to hold firm to secure the win.
Experienced flyhalf Alex Heaney directed the team around the park well, while scrumhalf Jamie Gwynne and forward Mick Dunn also earned praise from Cassidy.