The Albion Hotel Singleton Greyhounds took on the elements – and the Denman Devils - in a critical round 12 fixture of this year’s BHP Group 21 Premiership.
For the Ourcare first grade side the equation was simple.
With Singleton in fourth position sitting three competition points clear of Denman in fifth, victory would all but give them a semi-final berth whereas for the Devils their season would be all but over and only a mathematical chance of qualifying.
And once you start talking mathematics and rugby league you know you’re in trouble.
The weather turned feral by the time the game commenced with light rain and a howling westerly making a tough game even harder.
Both teams got into the grind early without threatening, Denman making plenty of errors and Singleton with some indifferent last tackle options.
It would be Singleton that drew first blood however when Marcus Carroll on the right wing found a weakness to score in the corner. Will Neiuwenhuise landed the conversion from the touchline, a goal that would later prove the difference between the sides giving his side a 6 – 0 lead after 24 minutes of play.
Denman seized on a Dog’s error soon after allowing opposition half-back Walker a converted try on the half hour mark to level the scores. The Devils camped in Singleton territory for the remainder of the half but some unwavering defence held.
Denman kicked a penalty goal on the siren to head to the break in front by 8 – 6. The Devils appeared to have the ascendency at the break and certainly just after it. Singleton lost possession on the first tackle following a penalty and Denman scored from the ensuing set to establish a 12 – 6 lead over Singleton after 42 minutes.
Referee Joey Butler had a job on his hands keeping a very undisciplined home side in check resulting in numerous penalties going Singleton’s way.
The Dog’s worked their way up-field and five-eighth James Bradley delivered a dangerous ball into the in-goal area for a flying Michael Rinkin to pounce on just wide of the posts. Nieuwenhuise added the extras to level the game at 12 – 12 after 48 minutes of play. Denman were guilty of more indiscretions as Singleton worked towards the line on the restart. This time it was Bradley himself producing yet another brilliant run to score a try under the posts to put the Red-Dog’s right on top at 18 – 12 and the lead once more.
The Dog’s began to dominate with disciplined play through completions and field position but Denman managed to hit back with a try in the corner that was unconverted leaving the score at 18 – 16 with 19 minutes remaining.
A couple of Singleton errors were extinguished with some resolute defence forcing the Devils into touch close to the line.
Again it was Denman’s lack of discipline – probably through frustration of their own inability to crack Singleton’s line – that got Singleton out of trouble.
The Gardner Transport Players player went to Michael Rinkin who has been a revelation since moving from the three-quarters into the backrow this season. The ‘big three’ of Thomas Johnson, Neuiwenhuise and Bradley continue to outpoint all their rivals week in – week out.
The Singleton Tyre Centre Under 18’s maintained the outright lead of the Under 18’s with a comprehensive 38 – 8 win over Denman in the earlier game. No details available but will make up for it next game.
There is no football for any Singleton teams this coming week with the scheduled wet weather weekend planned. Some rain would certainly be appreciated by everyone in the region though.
The Dog’s will be on the road once more in a fortnight with games against the Muswellbrook Rams for First Grade and Under 18’s while Reserve Grade and ladies league-tag have a road trip to Merriwa.