A hit-and-run visit to Brisbane by flyhalf Carter Gordon paid off big time for a victorious Wests side and the Melbourne Rebels on Saturday.
Thanks to the leave pass from Rebels coach Dave Wessels, Gordon could get in the saddle for his first game in two months.
He didn’t waste the chance as the key general behind the four-try second half that sunk Brothers 28-13 in the Allsports Physiotherapy Hospital Challenge Cup.
Gordon only got the green light from Wessels on Thursday night because he’d started this week training at No.10 for the Rebels while Matt Toomua was at Wallabies camp.
With Reece Hodge (knee) grounded, Gordon is getting closer to a spot on the bench for the Rebels but grabbing some game-time in club rugby was vital first.
“Dave said I was good to go on Thursday night which was great and I really enjoyed that one with the Wests’ boys...my first win at Brothers,” Gordon, 20, said.
Flanker Jeral Skelton and winger Illy Vudogo got the same leave pass from the Rebels to play. Wests enjoyed the input from both as well as Wallabies winger Filipo Daugunu.
Gordon has trodden a strange path as one of Australia’s most unseen talents.
The 2018 Australian Under-20s flyhalf was limited to three club games last year when part of the Queensland Reds squad and had only played two trials for the Rebels this year until this Crosby Park hit-out.
His long, flat cut-out passes were the key to the Bulldogs finding room for attacks out wide when Jono Kent and Vudogo scored their tries.
A low, try-saving Gordon tackle also repelled Brothers just metres from his own tryline in the first half when Wests trailed 3-0.
“I’m enjoying the move to Melbourne and grinding away. ‘Pup’ (Toomua) has gone out of his way to help improve my game and make me a better flyhalf,” Gordon said.
Wests showed great grit when they lost hooker Ethan Dobbins to a yellow card late in the first half because they held Brothers tryless for 10 minutes with 14 men.
Inspirational Wests skipper and flanker Connor Anderson showed the extra hustle in this 2021 Wests side compared to the tame, unfit 2020 version.
He pounced on messy ball at the back of a Brothers scrum near their own line and dived over for a 7-3 lead.
Fullback Kent’s try after excellent lead-up made it 14-6 and flanker Jeremiah Skelton added another shortly after for 21-6.
When Vudogo finished a passing rush by scoring out wide he was swamped by delighted Bulldogs teammates.
Anderson had his hands on the Pilecki-Shaw Cup, the symbol of contests between the clubs since 2008.
“You enjoy a trophy win. Two rum-and-cokes filled it nicely,” the thirsty Anderson said.
“I was really proud of the big defence to stand up in the first half when we might have leaked tries in years gone by.
“We built some momentum with back-to-back tries which was great. Coming off a first round bye, it’s good to get that first win.”
Brothers coach Brendan Gabbett rued not being able to turn ample first half possession into anything more than three points.
A longer term blow is the injury to Reds squad flyhalf Lawson Creighton. He had his left leg in a moon boot post-match and the fear is that scans will reveal a crack in the bone.
On the Gold Coast, Reds hooker Alex Mafi scored three tries as Bond University stunned premiers Easts 36-14.
At Courtney Field, GPS made it two-from-two with a 22-14 win over Norths.
At Chipsy Wood Oval, a late Scott Gale try snuck University of Queensland home 35-28 over Souths.