Photo credit: Vanessa Hafner
The season’s first Intrust Super Cup fixture under lights at Dolphins Stadium saw the Village Motors Dolphins hosting the table topping Townsville Blackhawks. The lead up to the game during the week was centred around the big question, would Benji Marshall make his debut for the Dolphins on home turf? The answer to that question came on Thursday with Benji confirmed in the squad.
Head Coach Adam Mogg was afforded only one training session with the former Kiwi International when he joined the Captain’s run on the eve of the Round 4 clash of two heavyweight clubs. Mogg’s decision to play Marshall at fullback paid dividends throughout the evening.
Although the game was dominated by robust defence it was the Dolphins who managed to open the scoring through their seasoned second rower Troy Giess in the 8th minute. The scoring stalled for almost 30 minutes in a tough encounter that provided few scoring opportunities for either side until winger Josh Beehag kicked a penalty goal with ten minutes remaining in the first half.
Moments later the crowd got their first glimpse of Marshall magic when he slid through a grubber kick between defenders for Beehag to score in the right corner and was successful with a difficult conversion to send the teams to the break with the Dolphins leading a high quality match 12-nil.
The second 40 minutes began in similar fashion to the first with both teams rugged defence stealing the headlines off the Benji Marshall debut, at least until 15 minutes after the break when Marshall put fellow debutant Tyson Gamble in to score off a clever short ball that turned back the clock for fans familiar with the Broncos recruit’s style. It was also a chance to look forward to what could be the start of a career for the local junior, Gamble who was strong in attack and defence in a debut that will be remembered fondly by the healthy crowd.
Mogg praised the defence of his team post game. “We defended well against Easts last week but we were disappointed with our ball control particularly so we needed to make improvements in attack while keeping our standards in defence high. We had a few players making their first grade debuts tonight and I am happy for them and the entire squad to get this result” he said.
The Blackhawks scored their only points in the final few minutes of the match through their half back Michael Parker-Walshe. Carlin Anderson converted for an 18-6 final score line.
Tyson Gamble swept the awards presentation at the Dolphins Full Time event post-match, collecting the McCormack’s Meats Player’s Player and was voted by Dolphins supporters on the night as the Fan Favourite. 2017 recruit Matt Lodge was the Rustic Olive Man of the Match.
The Village Motors Dolphins will meet the tricky Ipswich Jets next Sunday at Dolphin Stadium in what is always an entertaining clash. Gates open at 9am for a huge four games of football, with the main game kicking off at 1.40pm.