Valuable Ipswich lessons from meeting Cup pacesetters
TACKLING the defending Langer Cup champions first up was never going to be easy assignment for Ipswich State High's best rugby league students.
Given the lofty expectations of this year's Ipswich side, losing their opening match 22-10 at Pizzey Park tonight left the players with plenty to ponder.
However, as the team prepared for the bus trip home from the Gold Coast, head coach Josh Bretherton was encouraged to see mixed emotions.
"Some boys take it very heavy because they are very passionate about what they do,'' he said.
"But most of the leaders sort of grabbed them and just pointed out to them 'yes there's things to work on but that's the benchmark'.
"It's first round of the season. We'll just take steps forward from here.''
With Palm Beach Currumbin having set the standard in the elite schoolboy competition, Bretherton knows his team will respond with added motivation.
"They (PBC) have been the benchmark for the last few years and they expect to be again this year,'' he said.
"Tough first start but we expect to be playing the best so we've just got to be ready for that and be better.''
Untimely handling errors proved costly for Ipswich State High as Palm Beach Currumbin controlled the football much better.
Ipswich High's completion rate was only 58 per cent which Bretherton highlighted as "just by our standards is nowhere near good enough''.
"There were some very good signs but you are never going to win elite games of football when you complete as few sets as we did tonight,'' he said.
"That will be one thing that we have to fix up for next time round.''
That is for Ipswich State High's second round clash against St Mary's in Toowoomba next Wednesday.
Under defensive pressure for most of the first half tonight, Ipswich State High received limited chances to unleash their attacking ability, trailing 10-4 at halftime.
However, Ipswich State High displayed plenty of resilience, especially mounting a late challenge when the game was slipping away.
Co-captain Lachlan Williamson was a constant threat with his kicking game.
Having worked keenly on that aspect of his play in a lead-up session, the Norths footballer set up both Ipswich State High tries.
Winger Damien Burrows levelled the scores at 4-4 after pouncing on a superb kick by Williamson.
Trailing 16-4 in the second half, Williamson stepped up again to keep his team in the encounter.
The try-scoring architect delivered a neatly timed low kick towards the goalpost that teammate Mason Pintegne seized upon to score and make it 16-8.
Williamson's conversion gave Ipswich High a chance to salvage a draw before Palm Beach Currumbin sealed victory with a late try from an attacking burst up the middle.
However, Ipswich State High's forwards offered enough muscle to build future victories if they can hold the ball better.
"I thought defensively the effort was very good. They scrambled well,'' Bretherton said.
"It was quite a physical, fast game.''
The head coach praised forward Amazaiya Lepolo for his workrate.
He was also heartened by the effort of 16-year-old talent Tommy Luhrman, a hooker Bretherton rates extremely highly.
"He just added a bit of defensive sting when he came on. He did a really good job,'' the ever-supportive mentor said.
"If we completed more sets, he would have had the opportunity to show what he can do with the ball as well.''
Langer Cup round one: Palm Beach Currumbin 22 (Damon Sommerville 2, Xavier Willison, Tom Weaver tries; Tom Weaver 3 conversions) defeated Ipswich SHS 10 (Damien Burrows, Mason Pintegne tries; Lachlan Williamson conversion) at Pizzey Park.