Classy Panthers cruise to huge win against gallant 'Crabs
AUSSIE RULES: Yeppoon Swans may have a challenger.
Yes, it's only the first game of the season. But if ever there was a statement made, it was from Rockhampton Panthers who inflicted a 23.12 (150) to 4.3 (27) romp on Gladstone Mudcrabs at Clinton Oval under lights and in the wet.
Try as the home side did, Panthers prowled at each contest and set the trend with the first two goals inside the first 30 seconds via Sam Gudgeon (four goals) and Travis Applewaite (three).
In fact Muddies were kept scoreless in the first half, but new coach Aaron Barrett would be encouraged with a three-goal final quarter.
"We'll take out the positives in the effort that the boys put in," he said.
"We were undermanned and had a few guys that doubled up from the reserves to make up some numbers and it really took its toll on us in the end and we just didn't have the legs to run with them."
Sam Barkley and Rodney Phillips booted two goals for Gladstone while Clinton Evans had a night out for Panthers with five majors.
Muddies' Jay Warry was stellar in defence following his best afield effort in the reserves, David Curley did some good things in an under siege defence before he hurt a hamstring and Emrys Walker showed some dash from defence.
"I though Ricky (McClure) was solid as usual in defence and Curls (David Curley) was good before he did his hammy and Tristan Cox played some good footy out out on the wing and Huntah Gumz as well did well," Barrett said.
The coach hopes for more players to be available in another home match against Rockhampton Brothers this Saturday.
Matthew Ryan was brilliant from the get go with his clean takes from the middle of the ground and dread-locked Victorian recruit Michael Kreun gathered touches at will.
Panthers' coach Thomas Kneen was understandably pleased with the result.
"It was really good and the boys got out there with a good energy and that's what we have been focussing on the whole time same as last year," he said.
Panthers have a blend of youth and experience and some of the players have been together since under-9 level.
"I thought just the way we moved the ball around in the slippery conditions and we still wanted to use the handball and reward our runners and things like that, Kneen said.
"I guess it was to try and break Gladstone open and it came off for us."
Panthers take on Glenmore in round two this Saturday.