The All Golds were defeated 62-10 by the Toronto Wolfpack on Saturday, but can be proud of what was an extremely determined performance.
By Jack Conlon, Images courtesy of Nikki Jeffrey
The scoreline doesn’t reflect the effort of the visitors, who were regularly praised by commentators Aaron Murphy, Brian Noble and Blake Wallace for their aggressive defence and committed attack.
After being held out for the first five minutes, Toronto eventually broke through when Ryan Burroughs scored in the corner. And after further tries from Johnny Pownall, Rhys Jacks and Super League veterans Craig Hall, who scored two, and Richard Whiting, it looked as if the Wolfpack would go in 34-0 leaders at halftime.
But after winning a scrum from a short restart from Jack Mitchell, we found ourselves in some good field position to attack the Toronto defence. Some strong drives from Shaun Owens, Joe McClean and Lewis Reece saw us parked on the Wolfpack’s line, before captain Steve Parry was able to burrow his way under Whiting and Hall for one of his trademark tries. Mitchell was on kicking duty and converted to make it 34-6.
That looked to be it for the first half as the home side took in drive after drive, looking to run down the clock. But with seconds to go Craig Hall tried an inside pass, only to have it intercepted by Joe McClean. Our second rower raced away with Hall and Liam Kay in pursuit, only to be dragged down inches from the try-line. Momentum looked to have taken him over, but the referee deemed it a double movement and awarded Toronto a penalty. Our defence once again stood firm until the halftime whistle.
Despite us going close early on, it was Toronto who came out stronger in the second half, scoring after three minutes through the rampaging Fuifui Moimoi. Tries from Bob Beswick, Greg Worthington and Steve Crossley further extended the Wolfpack’s lead, before we were able to pull one back ourselves with arguably the try of the game.
Joe McClean, who troubled their defence all game, made a sensational break, beating five Toronto defenders before handing it off to the supporting Luke Stephens. He managed to find a way past the retreating Liam Kay and Craig Hall, before offloading to Lewis Reece for a score in the corner. It was a well-deserved try on the back of some really well-worked team play. Mitchell couldn’t convert, leaving the scores at 56-10.
There was just time for one more Toronto try through Quentin Laulu-Togagae, but the Golden Fern deserved much credit after such a spirited performance. In reality, the loss could have been much heavier if it wasn’t for our defence holding the Wolfpack up over the line on at least seven occasions throughout the match.
While the scoreline seems heavy, there’s plenty of positives to take away and coach Lee Greenwood said that the game, as well as the whole trip, was a huge success: “I’m massively proud of every single player. To come out here was always going to be tough but the guys dug in and did themselves proud. We defended a fair few sets on our own line and kept them out which I haven’t seen many teams do.
“We scored two tries and could have had a couple more. It was disappointing to concede that one late on but things like that can happen.
“We’re a young, inexperienced side so to come here and face players who have played at the very highest level will be a big learning curve for our players. We had some really good spells in the game and played right to the full time hooter so as a coach you can’t ask for more.
“The players have embraced Canada and had a great time. We had a trip to Niagara Falls and saw a Blue Jays game. To play in front of such a big crowd is great. Toronto are a very good side and you’d expect them to be up at the top end of the Championship next season.”
Our next test comes on Sunday, as we face Doncaster at home in our final game of the regular season before the league splits off into the Super 8’s. And Greenwood says that while injuries picked up in Saturday’s game may be a problem, he’s hopeful that we can still put out a strong showing: “We suffered plenty of injuries during the game which wasn’t great. We’ll be hoping some of the players who came off might be available for Doncaster but we’ll have to wait and see.”
Bench (all used):
Tries: Parry (37), Reece (76)
Goals: Mitchell 1/2
Quentin Laulu Togagae
Bench (all used):
Tries: Burroughs (6), Hall (12, 34), Pownall (16), Whiting (27), Jacks (32), MoiMoi (44), Beswick (61), Worthington (68), Crossley (71), Laulu-Togaga’e (78)
Goals: Hall 9/11
Penalty count: 9-7
Referee: Brandon Robinson
SCORING SEQUENCE: 4-0, 10-0, 16-0, 22-0, 28-0, 34-0, 34-6, 40-6, 46-6, 50-6, 56-6, 56-10, 62-10