It took four Caloundra players to bring down Mick Smallwood.
It took four Caloundra players to bring down Mick Smallwood. Callum Dick

Caloundra mauled by Ants

KINGAROY Red Ants co-captain Marty McCracken believes his side "shocked some people” with their 20-12 trial match win over a more-fancied Caloundra side on Saturday.

Following a tense 20-minute opening stanza that remained nil-all, both sides eventually hit the scoreboard as the rust fell away and their attacking structures began to click into gear.

A try in the final exchanges sealed the upset result for the Red Ants; their second-successive win over Coastal opposition following their victory at Noosa earlier this month.

And although McCracken does not want to read too much into pre-season form with both sides having a number of key players missing, he said the performance proved they were on the right track for the season opener in April.

"You can't take too much out of these trial games, but they're definitely good for building confidence in the club and Caloundra were a very good team to get a win over,” McCracken said.

"Even for a weaker side, they were still a decent Sunshine Coast side which should typically be a step above us.

"You would expect Caloundra to be the fitter side, but we stuck it to them in defence and that was a huge positive for us.”

Defence was the buzzword in the Red Ant dressing rooms post-match according to McCracken, with coach Darren Geiger rapt with his side's commitment to shutting down Caloundra's attack.

"Defensively we were really happy - Geigs was stoked with how our defence was, and how we stuck it to them throughout the game,” McCracken said.

"In attack we were alright, but there's so much room for improvement there.

"It's one of the big things that when it all clicks it will be pretty exciting to see what we're capable of; we're not off our game, it's just those little things that need to be improved.

"Our fourth or fifth tackle options weren't quite there, but early in the season that's always going to happen.”

McCracken sounded out newcomer Dillon Sullivan as a standout at the weekend, and with last year's Player of the Year Carl Freeman still to return the co-captain said all signs point to a big year for the Kingaroy side.

The Red Ants host Bundaberg this weekend, before a trip to Dalby a fortnight later to conclude their pre-season.

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