Cudgen Hornets reserve grade captain-coach Leigh Brown is crunched by the Bilambil defence.
Cudgen Hornets reserve grade captain-coach Leigh Brown is crunched by the Bilambil defence. Blainey Woodham

Hornets clinch pre-season victory

CUDGEN Hornets escaped with a narrow 22-20 win over the Bilambil Jets in their pre-season rugby league trial on Saturday evening at Ned Byrne Field.

The main game featured periods of scintillating and bone-crushing league, as the lead see-sawed between the two sides during the 20-minute quarters.

The match was blighted at times by dropped ball but that is to be expected at such an early stage of the season.

The difference at the end of the game was the three successful sideline conversions by Hornets captain-coach Craig Field.

The win was bittersweet for the Hornets, as new forward signing Simon Kelly dislocated his shoulder early in the pre-season trial and was a dejected figure at the end of the game.

The former Byron Bay captain-coach re-injured the joint on which he had extensive therapy during the off-season and his future is looking uncertain.

Outstanding performances from Damian Perry, centre David Briggs jnr and the debut of 17-year-old hooker John Palmer went some way to easing the club's pain.

Field and his Jets counterpart Jim Lenihan were both happy with aspects of their teams' performances.

Steve Kirkham, Dan Donovan and another new signing Matt Slattery all showed why they will be valuable in Cudgen's quest for a premiership.

Field was also happy with how his side muscled up against a Bilambil side featuring hulking players across the paddock.

“There is definitely a lot of positives coming out of the game from Cudgen's perspective,” Field said.

Bilambil Jets, Gold Coast Rugby League grand finalists for two years straight, had a tumultuous off-season, with the loss of its coach and a number of players.

It was the first chance Lenihan had to see his players in action.

“It was ok, it is still only early days,” Lenihan said.

“It was our first game of the year for a lot of us, and while it was not a great result, it was a very close thing.”

The Jets beat the Hornets in reserve grade, while the home side won the under-18 clash.

Both clubs have further trials this weekend.

The Jets take on Currumbin on Saturday while the Hornets travel to Lismore to take on Marist Brothers in the first round of the NRRRL's pre-season competition.

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