Maas roves home
By VINCE HABERMANN
BUNDABERG born and bred Nick Maas was a constant threat in his first match in the city in three years as Rochedale Rovers downed a gallant Wide Bay 2-nil in the first round of the State Cup.
Two of his former Bundaberg Waves XXXX Premier League team-mates, Greg Thomas and Byron Gray-Hassall, also featured.
But most match talk revolved around the superb performance in a beaten side of Bundaberg keeper and Australian under-20 squad member Mitch Langerak.
The Rovers prevailed courtesy of a first-half strike by Mark O'Neill and a goal early in the second stanza by workaholic substitute Andrew Butler.
However the score could have been much more, but for Langerak's heroics.
Bundaberg dominated the Wide Bay side, providing 15 of the 17 players, and most played above themselves on their home-ground, but Laurie Stephenson was their stand-out in attack, producing several great shots at goal, but he was repeatedly denied by an also super-efficient Rochedale custodian Mario Aparicio.
Maas, 29, who joined Rochedale at the start of the 2003 season after Waves' withdrawal from the Brisbane competition, said they were hungry for the Cup after finishing second in the Premier League this year before being knocked out in the semi-finals by ultimate champions Pine Rivers.
"Wide Bay did very well and credit to them but we think we can go all the way,'' Maas said.
"But you have to give it to their goal-keeper (Langerak) - he did very well - I for one, would have scored except for him, and hopefully he'll go on to bigger and better things.''
Maas said Thomas also "did well'', especially in attack.
"We only had four or five of our regulars - we had a couple of young lads, 16 and 17-year-olds who we gave a go, including Cody Lovell, who is new to the club from Lions,'' he said.
Maas said it was also "nice'' to come home for a few days with his wife Rachelle and 10-month-old son Ethan.
Gray-Hassall, 22, who transferred to the club at the same time as Maas, said he was "stoked'' with where his career is at.
"I'm doing a degree in Primary Education, working two jobs and playing football with a good team - it's great,'' Gray-Hassall said.
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