Fitzhenry injury adds pain to loss
STALWART Brothers prop Chris Fitzhenry was a costly casualty from his team's heart-breaking Hervey Bay campaign on Saturday night.
The Brothers' hard man suffered a season-ending knee injury in the low point of a demoralising 41-28 defeat.
It was the team's third straight loss.
Coach Andrew Hamilton has been thrust into crisis control to ensure there is enough muscle in the Brothers pack to see out the season and make a successful finals campaign.
“We're short in the forwards as it is, so to lose him (Fitzhenry) is a pretty costly blow,” he said.
Fitzhenry's absence will put additional pressure on the team's remaining props, captain Cameron Ricciardi and Andrew Cook.
“We're going to be under-gunned, so they're going to have to be playing harder and longer than they should have to,” Hamilton said.
“There's the numbers there to replace him but he's a key player for us.
“They're mighty big shoes to fill.”
Brothers struggled in the wet conditions and allowed frequent turnovers.
However, strong attacking movements by Fitzhenry and centre Michael Wise helped the team to take a narrow lead into the second half 24-22.
Fitzhenry went down five minutes into the second half and the game was halted for 45 minutes while officials waited for an ambulance to transfer him to Hervey Bay Hospital.
Hervey Bay was a dominant force when play resumed, with renegade second rower Tyrone Hopgood exploiting Brothers' mistakes with precision.
Hopgood crossed the line three times for tries himself and had a hand in all of the rest of his team's tries.
“In many ways he was the difference between the two teams,” Hamilton said.
“We couldn't keep him in line and it hurt us.”
The match highlighted defensive problems in his team that would need to be rectified if it was to halt its losing streak, Hamilton said.
“It's a game I'd rather forget, to be honest,” he said.
“There were patches of good football in there but we didn't play consistently and we let through tries which should never have happened.”
The team will be boosted by the return of star hooker Brent Kuskey from two weeks' suspension for its clash with Wests next Sunday.