If only Bond University’s brilliant opening try against GPS was a sign of things to come in their round 12 encounter at Yoku Road.
Both teams scored three tries in the gripping battle but an extra conversion from the hosts sealed the 19-17 win in front of a large Ladies’ Day crowd.
Bond has only played three matches in the last five rounds due to competition byes. Jeeps on the other hand have played five in a row and clearly benefited from the consistent game time.
But the Bull Sharks loss was put into perspective with players wearing black arm bands to honour former Gold Coast Breakers President Warren Carey who lost his battle with cancer on Friday night.
After 27-minutes of play it was flyer Joey Fittock who supplied the razzle dazzle to put Bond on the scoreboard first by icing a 90-metre try.
A quick tap from Tyler Campbell caught GPS off guard before captain Dan Boardman provided support and found Fittock in space who turned on the afterburners.
Fittock almost scored again before the break after 115-kilogram second-rower Devon Henson chased down his own kick to deliver a perfect ball to his winger before Fittock was caught on his ankles a metre from the try-line.
Boardman crashed over for a try in the second half to put his team back in the lead before GPS sealed the win with a contentious try with less than 15-minutes to go.
Boardman had a tough day with the kicking tee, missing two costly conversions.
George Blake’s mullet received jovial pats after he barrelled over the line after the break to score his second try for the season and reduce Jeeps’ margin to four.
The up-and-coming Queensland Reds hooker was also pivotal in defence helping sabotage the Gallopers massive forward pack.
DEPTH ON DISPLAY
Fortunately, Bond University has experience all over the park heading into the final six games of the regular season.
Reds star Angus Blyth provided excellent cover at lock-forward, frustrating the Jeeps wrecking balls during scrums.
Spencer Jeans made his anticipated return for the Bull Sharks off the bench and proved a handful for Gallopers defenders.
His Queensland teammate, Alex Mafi is on track to return for round 13.
Connor Pritchard was at his consistent best after returning from a trip to South Africa to visit family.
Fiji Drua centre Tuidraki Samusamuvodre was brought on late in the second half providing experience and fitness for the Bull Sharks.
WHAT IT MEANS
This is not how the Bull Sharks wanted to begin the business end of the season and they now have their work cut out to muscle their way in to the top four.
The loss to GPS combined with UQ’s win over Souths means Bond has ground to make up.
The University has dropped from fifth to sixth on the ladder two points behind Easts and five points behind fourth placed GPS.
They have a huge challenge at their own Ladies’ Day at The Canal on Saturday when they host first placed Wests.
WHAT THEY SAID
It was a reflective mood on the bus trip back from Ashgrove.
“It was really tough. It felt like we defended the majority of the game,” said halfback Liam Dillon.
“We couldn’t quite work into our attacking shape. We definitely had our opportunities to win the game but we couldn’t quite capitalise.
“Looking back, I think our discipline really hurt us and put quite a lot of pressure on us defensively. It feels like most of the game was spent on our try line.”
But it’s not all doom and gloom for the Bull Sharks.
“Considering the amount of A-zone entries GPS had I think our goal line defence was extremely strong particularly in nullifying their maul which has been a massive strength for them over the last couple of years,” said Dillon.
“I thought our whole forward pack stood up and played extremely well, particularly our tight five. There was a huge amount of pressure on them especially in the first 20 minutes and the boys really stood. up.”
IN OTHER GAMES
The Premier Women’s team enjoyed a perfect day out at Yoku Road posting a 46-0 win.
The men’s second grade team was challenged by GPS before winning 24-22, however third grade fell by five points.
Wins for Colts one (24-15) and Colts two (24-21).