Gordon have begun their Charter Hall Shute Shield campaign in scintillating form, crushing the Marlins 78-10 at Manly Oval and firming into early premiership favouritism.
The Highlanders continued their winning form from 2020, completely outclassing the opposition in a victory which saw the visitors cross for twelve tries on the day.
With a line up featuring First Grade debutants and without the services of premiership heroes Harrison Goddard and Jack Dempsey, many wondered whether Gordon could repeat the form which saw them end a 22-year premiership drought last season.
However, this question could not have been more emphatically answered in their Round One performance, as the Highlanders speed and attacking execution saw them leap to an early and unassailable lead.
With barely five minutes amassed, Gordon scrumhalf Jake Abel exploited the Marlins lethargic blindside defence to waltz over for the first try of the new season.
It was to be his first of three for the day, as the skilful scrumhalf continuously challenged the Marlins ruck defence and created countless attacking opportunities.
Much anticipation surrounded Jake Abel heading into season 2021, with the hat-trick hero joining forces with childhood friend and fellow Bay of Plenty star Reece MacDonald in the Gordon halves.
The pairs connection was evident early, as the two combined close to the Marlins line before MacDonald’s quick hands found Ben Pollack in full stride, crashing over for the Stags second.
This lead was quickly extended to 21-0 after a yellow card to Manly lock Gus Verhoeven allowed Gordon skipper Jordan Goddard to find the line after another dominant rolling maul.
Ill-discipline and handling errors ruined any momentum that Manly could build in the first half. By comparison, Gordon showed no signs of early season rust with the Stags backline looking lethal on near every attacking attempt.
After Gordon speedster Alesana Pohla set fellow winger Mike Pavlakis up for the Highlanders fourth try in only 25-minutes, it was clear the 2020 Shute Shield premiers had not lost a stride since last season.
Further tries to Jake Abel, Tom Silk and Lucas Price saw the visitors lead extend to 49 points by half-time.
First Grade debutant Will Bremner was impressive for the Highlanders today, with the young hooker looking at home in the top squad. Bremner was influential in Gordon’s rolling maul domination whilst also demonstrating his agility in setting up Alesana Pohla’s early second half try.
Gordon fullback Ben Pollack was equally as impressive and joined Abel in scoring three tries on the day. Pollack’s speed continuously probed at the Manly defence, exposing the home side to a barrage of attacking opportunity.
Pollack’s hat-trick and a try to substitute Manasa Rokosuka brought the Highlanders try tally to twelve for the day, amassing a whopping 78 points in total.
Late tries to Marlins Ben Crerar and James Parker were all but consolation for the home side, completely outclassed in the opening round clash and leaving Head Coach Matt McGoldrick with plenty to work on before their next match against Easts.
Gordon will be looking to extend their winning ways when they face Western Sydney Two Blues in Round Two of the Charter Hall Shute Shield.
In other results around the grounds – Sydney Uni were far too strong for the Wildfires 56-24, Easts just edged out rivals Souths 17-14, West Harbour were no match for Randwick 17-47, Norths shut out the Emus 73-0 and Eastwood claimed a strong Round One win 59-19 over the Two Blues.
Tries: Crerar, Parker
Yellow Card: Verhoeven
Tries: Abel 3, Pollack 3, Goddard, Pavlakis, Silk, Price, Pohla, Rokosuka
Cons: MacDonald 8, Pollack
Round One Results
Sydney Uni 56 v 24 Hunter Wildfires
Easts 17 v 14 Souths
West Harbour 17 v 47 Randwick
Penrith 0 v 73 Norths
Eastwood 59 v 19 Two Blues
Manly 10 v 78 Gordon