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Dragons wing Jason Hofmeyr scored a hat trick as a depleted Sunnybank side overran the Gold Coast Breakers 49-27 at Oldmac Oval in Round 15 of Queensland Premier Rugby.
The Dragons easily accounted for the Breakers despite calling up a host of new faces from their ever deepening talent pool due to an injury plagued build up and the loss of star forwards Ole Avei and Albert Anae.
In the absence of playmaker Matty Lucas, Matt Feaunati led the squad, providing poise and vision while setting up right centre Rota Setu out wide three minutes into the game.
Gold Coast hit back strongly with Wallaby and Reds prop Ben Daley leading the forward pack, but they had little possesion and were forced to play for field position throughout the first half.
The sin binning of Sunnybank hooker Benjamin Fox gave Gold Coast the extra man and confidence they needed but ball handling errors meant the scores remained unchanged.
“We were just unable to take advantage of those early opportunities which unfortunately had us chasing (Sunnybank) from the start,” Breakers’ Coach Tom Rosewarne said.
The Breakers Australian Schoolboys representative Jarrad Butler worked in tandem with Daley and the partnership looked dangerous through the middle with some hard running and quick passing opening up the gaps and opportunities to score.
However the hard headed defensive backline marshalled from fullback by the Reds Richard Kingi thwarted all attempts on the visitors' line while Kingi repeatedly worried the Breakers in attack, setting up with try assists twice in the first half.
Fighting to stay in the game the Breakers finally began to execute their plays with left centre Leigh Holtsbaum scoring under the posts with five seconds left in the half, offering the prospect of a Breakers’ comeback.
The second half saw just that, as the home side's cutting edge and fluency dissolved and the Breakers took their chances through runaway tries by Andy Hollis and Joel Sykes, who came off the bench.
However any further Breakers resistance was snuffed out when Hofmeyer scored twice in the last 10 minutes to claim his hat trick.
Sunnybank Coach Rob ‘Tiny’ Nowland was proud of his young team for coming through with the win, coming off the back of a disappointing loss to GPS last week.
“The first half defence and the early tries out wide really helped the boys in the end when the Gold Coast started to come back at us," he said.
“We have really relied on our younger players today, with so many of our regular starters out the boys have really had to step up”, Nowland said.
Breakers Coach Tom Rosewarne blamed the loss on inconsistency and lack of commitment, a regular trap they've fallen into this season.
“We have just been inconsistent throughout, playing 10 minutes of good footy and then we capitulate toward the end,” Rosewarne said.
Sunnybank continue to hold second place on the ladder and will host the ambitious Sunshine Coast at Oldmac Oval in the next round.
Sunnybank 49 (J Hofmeyr 3, R Setu 2, M Swann 2, M Feaunati tries, J Hofmeyr 3 cons, pen) d Gold Coast 27 (A Hollis, L Holtsbaum, J Sykes, K Manning tries, D Nethery 2 cons, pen)
Match report by Clare Hunter
16 FEBRUARY 2019