Dolphins, Crows go to war
CENTRAL Crows under-18s coach Mal McMillan has admitted it is "almost impossible” to match Sunday's trial match opponents Redcliffe Dolphins at this early stage of the year.
The Crows fell 54-20 to their North Brisbane rivals at the Kingaroy Rugby League Grounds, but despite the scoreline McMillan was realistic of what he could expect from his fledgling representative team.
"To tell you the truth it's almost impossible to match these guys with the limited preparation we have,” McMillan said.
"I don't like making excuses, but we've got 30 blokes here from 15 different places so it's hard in anyone's book.
"Obviously everyone is aware of the limited preparation we have, and with 30 players to choose from it was a bit disjointed, but I thought we did pretty well actually.
"I'm happy with the way they went.”
The Crows draw players from Blackbutt to Roma and out to Bundaberg, and this served as their first hit-out since the squad was announced in January.
By comparison, Redcliffe players train and play together each week with competition fierce for potential Intrust Super Cup and FOGs Colts berths in the senior squads on the line.
"The biggest thing was their wrestle on the ground, we got beaten in the wrestle,” McMillan said.
"When we had the ball we were the last one up and when they had the ball they were the first one up, and that was the biggest difference today.
"You can see from their training that they spend a lot of time doing that.”
Both sides will contest the state-wide Mal Meninga Cup competition beginning in two weeks time, although they will not meet again unless it is in the finals.
McMillan said it was difficult to maintain any sense of continuity in Sunday's trial as players were rotated in and out of the game, and he expects a far stronger, more clinical performance from his side when they tackle Rockhampton in round one.
"We've got some boys that can play some footy,” McMillan said.
"I'm reasonably happy with our performance (on Sunday) but by the end of the program I expect to see a big improvement.
"Honestly if we just play a simple brand of footy we probably won't go very well in this competition, we need to be able to throw the ball around and back our confidence.”
Throwing the ball around was what proved so successful for the Crows at the weekend, with the majority of their scoring plays coming from improvised runs.
One such play - the last of the match - saw Cherbourg young gun Errol Simpson chase down his own kick through the Redcliffe line, kick the ball on and gather before crossing in the left-hand corner that sent the small crowd of onlookers into raptures.
"I called (Errol's) name when I was looking at the clock,” McMillan said.
"With six seconds to go, that's when guys like him are most dangerous.”
"We need to get him more of the football, and that's the plan in weeks to come.”
Simpson finished with two tries and was a standout for the Crows, with fellow South Burnett players Zac Walters, Kirby Rubesaame (Kingaroy), Jackson Mladenovic (Blackbutt) and Thomas Springate (Nanango) also part of the 30-man squad.
The Crows travel to Browne Park for their opening match against CQ Capras on March 4, with a bye in round two before hosting Souths Logan in Cherbourg on March 19.
"Now they'll go home and work on the things we talk about - the little things between now and when we play in Rockhampton,” McMillan said.