Knights keep title hopes alive

ON TARGET: Blue Lakes Knights’ Jay Mariano has taken the kicking duties for the side this season and was on target against the Panthers, with three conversions from five attempts. Picture: FILE IMAGE

BLUE Lake Knights have added another piece to the puzzle in their quest to play rugby league finals this season.

The Knights headed across to Warrnambool to face the Horsham Panthers in Round 7 of the Limestone Coast Rugby League season and returned successful, with a 26-12 win.

A lack of numbers saw the Mount Gambier side take just 13 players to the game and face a full-strength Panthers outfit.

Despite the low numbers, club president Brenton Hodge said the players were keen to claim the win and went in with a positive attitude.

“We knew we were short and everybody would have to step up or we were going to get trounced,” Hodge said.

“We went there with a good mind set and it created a positive effect.

“When we got there they had good numbers – I think they picked up a couple of extra boys – so we were expecting a tough fight.”

But despite the numbers favouring the Panthers, three first-half tries put the Knights in a good position heading into the second half.

Hodge said some smart play and good ball use created opportunities, which were capitalised on.

“We really focused on that defensive line to stop them scoring,” he said.

“The work rate was excellent and we moved the ball well.

“We used the whole width of the field from the centre out to the side lines and did not just try to barrel our way through.

“We constructed our play well and worked hard for our tries.”

Once across the line the job of converting the tries was left to Jay Mariano, who managed three from his five attempts.

“Jay did a good job of kicking,” Hodge said.

“He converted three of our tries which was a good effort.

“They were not just straight in front either.

“He had some tough shots, but kicked well.”

Carl Schaefer was also impressive with two tries to his name.

The win helped the Knights solidify fourth spot on the ladder, with a chance of moving up if they can continue to win, after Naracoorte Jets forfeited their game.

However, this week will be a tough prospect, as the Knights head to Naracoorte to face the in-form team in the league in the Gunditjmara Bulls.

But as Hodge noted, no games are easy in the sport of rugby league, especially this season.

“The great thing about this competition is every game is a tough one,” he said.

“Sometimes I think the scores have not been reflective of the standard of the competition.

“Some teams are better at getting across the line and converting their tries and if you lose concentration as a team, the opposition will make you pay.”

A big draw card for this weekend will be a women’s game, which will be played between the two men’s matches.

All those women across the league who want to play will be placed in a pool, with two teams formed.

And it will not be just a demonstration game, but two teams of women going head-to-head to showcase their skill in the sport.

Hodge said it was a real positive for the league going forward.

“Our intention is to have a women’s competition and push a bit harder for it next year,” he said.

“Hopefully this is the start of it.

“We will see what the interest is like on Saturday.”

The Knights will kick the day off against the Bulls at 1.30pm, followed by the women’s game, with the final men’s game between the Panthers and the Jets pushed back to 4pm.