Stingrays glide to win over Downs
SUNSHINE Coast Stingrays coach Glenn Panoho admitted he was nervous before kick-off in the Queensland Rugby Union Country Championship showdown against the Darling Downs in Hervey Bay on Saturday night.
The former Wallaby prop needn’t have been – his players ensured that.
The Stingrays overcame losing both their half-backs through injury during the warm-ups before the game started to open their campaign with an impressive 33-19 victory.
Panoho’s team started strongly and led 21-0 at half-time following tries to outside centre Louis Fesolai (two) and flanker Sam Hill.
New Zealand touch representative Maurice Stone, one of the players making his debut, kicked the extras.
So well did the Stingrays play that the Darling Downs only managed one foray into the Stingrays final quarter and even then they dropped the ball.
However, the Darling Downs proved they were far from down and out at the start of the second-half.
Two converted tries, the first in the opening seconds of the second 40, reduced the arrears to 21-14 but that proved to be as close as the Darling Downs got.
Two tries to speedy left winger Josh MacPherson made sure of that.
Not surprisingly, Panoho said he was wrapped with the win.
“I thought it was fantastic to be honest, given it was our first game of the year,” he said.
“The new combinations worked really well and the players adjusted really well considering what happened before the game had even started – I was really impressed.”
But was Panoho nervous when the Darling Downs hit back strongly at the start of the second half?
“Well, it was a bit of a lapse on our behalf but I thought we re-gathered and composed ourselves really well,” Panoho said.
“That was pleasing and so was the win.”
It wasn’t only the win which pleased Panoho though.
“I thought the support we got from the people of Hervey Bay was great and we are really thankful for it,” he said.
“We enjoyed playing here and I hope we’ll get a chance to do it again – I think it’s great taking games into regional centres.”
The Stingrays completed a winning double over the Darling Downs winning the Colts clash 16-14.