LEAGUE WIN BUILT ON RABBIT-PROOF DEFENCE
|Rabbit hunt: Cairns players Nick Hanigan, Robbie Kyles and Trevor Port round up South Sydney centre Jack Leehang. Picture: NORBERT von der HEIDT
CAIRNS withstood a late South Sydney barrage to secure a thrilling 16-14 victory in their under-16 rugby league clash at Jones Park on Tuesday night.
Traditionally, the annual clashes between the Cairns representative outfit and the visiting Rabbitohs Harold Mathews squad have been tight affairs and Tuesday night’s encounter did nothing to buck the trend.
Cairns coach Greg Malenstein said a superb defensive effort from his side had set up the victory.
"We worked a lot on our defence after the North Queensland championships,’’ Malenstein said.
"We did drop a lot of ball in our own half on Tuesday night, so we had to defend for most of the first half."
The Cairns outfit, which narrowly missed out on capturing the NQ Championships in Townsville last month, produced a defensive effort of such intensity, Malenstein said it resembled Queensland’s courageous State of Origin performance 24 hours later.
"At halftime I said to the boys, "that was the best defensive effort I’ve seen in the last six years – do you want to keep doing that or put some points on?"
Wisely, Cairns decided to go with the latter option, scoring some nice second half tries and defending grimly to the end as the Rabbitohs again threw everything at the home side in the final stages.
Malenstein said back-rower Rob Kyles and five-eighth Trevor Port had led the way with big hits and high work rates in defence with Port also effective in attack.
Lock forward Troy Nolan also impressed with his willing hit-ups.
Fullback Rhys Talty’s finishing signalled he, like the others, had a bright future in the game.
Malenstein said he had enjoyed working with the squad and praised their work during the representative season.