Ants and Stags in stalemate
Rugby League: The Kingaroy Red Ants and Nanango Stags played out arguably the most entertaining game of rugby league so far this season on Saturday.
In a contest with multiple lead changes, it looked like the Kingaroy side would take maximum competition points when they lead hosts Nanango with just seconds remaining.
Instead, the home side capitalised on some crucial Red Ants errors to cross in the dying stages, levelling the score at 24-all on the final buzzer.
The result meant mixed feelings for Red Ants coach Darren Geiger, who was mostly proud, but still disappointed, that his side let the lead slip so late.
"They scored with two seconds to go to tie it up which was unfortunate,” Geiger said.
"A couple of little things late really cost us. We had a kick that didn't find touch that they scored from, and a drop out with 40-odd seconds to go that we maybe could have been smarter about.
"But that's footy, and Nanango fought hard. It was a good quality game.”
Red Ants hard man Mick Smallwood was on fire early, and was key in opening up the Red Ants' lead early in the second half.
But just 10 minutes into the second period he was sent off, stunting the Kingaroy side's push forward and inviting the Stags back into the contest.
"Defensively we came out of the blocks really well, our attitude was sensational,” Geiger said.
"Losing Mick brought us back to the pack I think, but the boys showed some great fight in the second half.”
An already late start to the season has been compounded by public holidays and bye rounds, meaning Saturday was just the Red Ants' second match this season.
The Kingaroy side showed impressive form in their pre-season matches, but Geiger admitted the extended break between games coupled with key injuries had made it difficult to start the season.
And things will not get any easier for them this week, when they travel to face the Cherbourg Hornets in what promises to be a highly entertaining affair.
"If we're not on our toes defensively (Cherbourg) will carve us up,” Geiger said.
"You can score points against them - they're a better attacking side than defending side - but they're very dangerous.
"Our goal will be to keep them under 20 points.”
Geiger said once the likes of Dillon Sullivan and Karl Freeman return from injury, and with more match practice under their belt, he expects the Red Ants to return to powerhouse status.