THE Mareeba Gladiators AGrade side achieved arguably their most impressive win of the season as they overcame a 16 point deficit to win 24-16 against Ivanhoes at the Smithfield Sports Complex on Sunday afternoon.
After a spate of errors from both sides in the opening 15 minutes, Ivanhoes were first to cross the stripe after their backrower mopped up a clever grubber to score in the 18th minute.
It was an extremely tight first half, as both teams showed resolve defensively on their own line; with Ivanhoes taking a 4-0 lead into the main break.
The beginning of the second half was a far more onesided however, as the home side scored two tries inside the opening 10 minutes to set up a troubling 16-0 scoreline for Mareeba.
Despite the uphill battle, the Gladiators refused to throw in the towel, scoring four consecutive tries in the final 28 minutes to secure the win.
With seven of the Gladiators being ex-Ivanhoes players, there was an extra bit of feeling throughout the game that saw for a great atmosphere.
One ex-Ivanhoe who was on the receiving end of plenty of barbs from the pro-Ivanhoes crowd was backrower Brodie Welsh.
Affectionately known as ‘Corn’, Welsh shrugged off some big hits to get the last laugh against his old team after his charge-down led to a try for halfback Joshua Ward that got them back into the game.
Ward returned the favour less than 30 minutes later as he put Welsh through a hole to score with just ten minutes to go.
Gladiators centre Mitchell Brim ensured the win with a try with just three minutes remaining.
Welsh said there was plenty of emotion playing against his old club.
“There’s a lot of heart still with Ivanhoes having played with the club for five years, so I had such a great time playing against old mates of mine,” he said.
“Even though I was on the end of a couple of good shots, I made sure I kept getting up and having a dig, this was a game us ex-hoes boys wanted to win and I thought we showed a lot of resolve as a side.”
Welsh said his strong performance was off the back of frontrowers Kurt Jackson and Ian King, who laid a platform that allowed him to succeed.
“The boys up front just kept on going forward,” he said.
“Off the back of that Wardy (Joshua Ward) was able to get on the front foot which made my job so much easier.
“This was a really good win and one we can be proud of as a team.”
Gladiators captain-coach Trent Barnard was ecstatic to come away with the win.
“I am extremely proud of the boys for their game today, they showed a lot of heart to come back from 16 points down,” he said.
“We’ve showed great effort right throughout the year; it’s just been our execution and consistency that has let us down, so I knew if we stayed within reach we’d be able to get back into the game.
“Obviously it’s good to get a win against our old club, there was a good crowd on hand and they provided a great atmosphere, so this was one of the best wins for our side this year.
“Hopefully we can build on it and finish strong for the season and build towards next year.”