DESPERATION: The Panthers gave their all but couldn't pull off the win against Norths.
DESPERATION: The Panthers gave their all but couldn't pull off the win against Norths. Rockhampton Rugby League

Positive signs for Panthers at Rocky Nines

RUGBY LEAGUE: The Yeppoon Seagulls pulled off the three-peat and captain Karl Stevens was sidelined after breaking his foot mid-match - but it wasn't all bad news for the Panthers at last weekend's Schwarz Excavation Nines competition in Rockhampton.

The Biloela side showed flashes of brilliance as they beat Blackwater 24-8 and steamrolled Woorabinda 37-7 to make it into the semi-finals, eventually going down 28-7 to Emu Park in a game where the scoreline did not reflect the tension in the match.

 

DETERMINED: A Grade coach Ryan Wilson runs the ball up.
DETERMINED: A Grade coach Ryan Wilson runs the ball up. Rockhampton Rugby League

Vice-captain Byron Hassall was a star on the field throughout the tournament, filling in as captain on Saturday and scoring a bevy of tries - including some long-distance beauties - as well as setting up others and constantly backing his teammates.

He was chosen at number 1 in the Schwarz Excavations 1st Division Men's Best 9 side, representing the ideal hybrid team of the carnival.

Biloela's U20s also showed real promise after posting a less-than-ideal win-loss record last year, defeating Fitzroy 20-13 on Saturday and following it up with a 15-11 win over Woorabinda.

Karl Stevens said the addition of Brodie Morris and Dylan Chittick to the side had already proved to be a match-winner.

"They'll be the halves/hooker combo this year so they're taking on a lot more responsibility," Stevens said.

"Having those two young fellas will be a big boost for the 20s this year."

 

GOT HIM: Ashley Boon tries to dodge an ankle tap.
GOT HIM: Ashley Boon tries to dodge an ankle tap. Rockhampton Rugby League

Stevens himself will be out until after the Easter weekend after landing badly on his left foot during the semi-final.

The Panthers will play trial games in Calliope tomorrow against the Valleys Diehards (A Grade and U20s) and Calliope Roosters (Reserve Grade), starting from 3pm.

The A Grade match will serve as a preview of the Panthers' Round 1 home game against Valleys, who are fresh off a big win in Brisbane.


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