Bribie brigade flexing muscles
REVAMPED Bribie Island sent another shudder through the ranks of the Sunshine Coast Gympie Rugby League yesterday when it crushed Caloundra at Lighthouse Park.
After battling in recent years, the club forged an agreement with the Sunshine Coast Sea Eagles in the off-season and it now boasts a squad of fringe players from the State League team.
And the rebranded Bribie Island Sea Eagles loom as a genuine threat for this year's Caloundra RSL Cup after winning all three of its pre-season Anzac Cup pool matches.
It defeated 2012 preliminary finalist Caboolture a fortnight ago before stunning defending premier Kawana last week.
Yesterday, the Ben Olsen-coached outfit thumped the Sharks 40-16.
Bribie got the ball rolling when halfback Eli Wickham showed strength to cross the stripe moments after Sharks pivot Dennis Blumson kicked out on the full.
The two teams then traded tries but Caloundra made it 10-all when half Chris Ainsworth sent the ball through Ryan Strould to winger Dylan Valentine.
The visitors took a 14-10 lead into the break though and accelerated to 24-10 upon resumption.
The Sharks reduced the deficit to eight when Jordi Taylor's chip was gathered by fullback Joel Kendall, who linked with Ainsworth.
But Bribie crossed four more times on the back of an effective pack.
"In the second half, we came back and it was good to see we could score that many points," Olsen said.
"Our defence has pleased me in the past couple of games but I really needed to see the boys put a few points on another side."
Booming front rower Dan Tronc was impressive as were Matt Gough and Joe Meninga. In an ominous sign for other teams, Bribie could welcome back key players in coming weeks.
"We were down to our last 17 men for this game because of injuries," Olsen said. "When we get our full side, it will be a bit of a different line-up. There's probably five other players who can still fit into this side."
But Olsen also said their depth could be tested during the season proper.
"The Queensland Cup side (Sunshine Coast Sea Eagles) could have a heap of injuries and could take half our players so we'll have to see what players we've got each week," he said.
Bribie Island will clash with unbeaten Noosa in the final of the pre-season Anzac Cup at Gympie on Saturday after the Pirates smashed Gympie 74-6. Nambour beat Maroochydore 30-22 while Caboolture beat Kawana 22-20.