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Kangaroos finally ended their 26-year premiership drought with a thrilling 32-28 Bendigo Bank Cairns District Rugby League A Grade grand final win over Southern Suburbs at Barlow Park yesterday.

In an absorbing contest in front of a crowd of more than 3,000, the lead changed hands several times before Roos centre Bradley Stephen became the hero with just one minute left on the clock.

With the scores level at 28-28, Stephen crossed for a dramatic game-winning try to land minor premiers Roos their first A Grade premiership since 1987.

It was a fitting end to one of the greatest CDRL grand finals in the modern era, in a clash between the two top sides on the ladder at the end of the regular season.

Roos coach Michael White, who was named Coach of the Year at the CDRL Gold Medal Dinner last Friday, said he couldnt be prouder of his team.

Photo: Madcap Photography

Im absolutely elated, he said. Obviously thrilled in winning the game, but were also elated about what a wonderful season weve had.

It was a great game to watch it was end to end and gave both coaches a few grey hairs, but it was great for the spectators.

I tried to remain calm on the sideline but I was bottling up the energy towards the end there.

White saw his side repel the Suburbs attack for several sets in the dying stages before Stephen went up the other end to win the game for Roos.

We talked about it and trained all year to perform at the back end of games, as its in the last 10 minutes where games can be won and lost, particularly in grand finals, he said.

Our line defence really set up our win, and we showed great courage. They did get over the line, but they could have got a few more tries.

Our boys really played for each other and it was fantastic to watch.

White also reserved praise for Suburbs, who were trying to end their own premiership drought stretching back to 1997.

Congratulations to Suburbs theyve had a tough few weeks in the finals, and we expected them to come out and be a different side to the one weve played previously, which they were, White said.

Full credit to them, they really played well.

Suburbs had raced to an early 16-0 lead through tries from Eddie Prior (2) and Chad Henley, before Roos reeled them back in.

Stephen (2), Robbie Amber, Jared Allen, Phillip Warren and James Kerwick crossed for the premiers, with Aidan Day and Rhys Hanlon scoring the Suburbs other two tries on the day.

Suburbs coach Billy Beard was understandably dejected at the end of the game, but praised Kangaroos on their triumph.

It was an exciting game of football and it was good to be involved congratulations to Roos, Beard said.

Theyve been good all year, and its probably fitting they came out and won tonight. But full credit to our boys. They were outstanding and really stood up to be counted.

In the other CDRL Grades, Mareeba (Reserve Grade), Innisfail (Under 18s) and Ivanhoes (C Grade) were all crowned premiers.


Sunday, September 15 Barlow Park, Cairns

A Grade Grand Final

Kangaroos 32 (Stephen 2, Amber, Warren, Allen, Kerwick tries; Amber 4 goals) def. Southern Suburbs 28 (Prior 2, Henley, Day, Hanlon tries; Whittle 4 goals).

Reserves Grand Final

Mareeba 54 (Mitchell 3, Shave 2, Hunter, Kose, S. Grainer, Rodgers tries; Hunter 8, Richards goals) def. Yarrabah 20 (H. Richards, Garrett, Hari, Mudu tries; Bligh 2 goals).

Under 18s Grand Final

Innisfail 52 (Snowball 4, Kelly 3, Massey, Bertuola tries; Kelly 8 goals) def. Kangaroos 34 (Tau-Ave, Gibas, Harry, Bindoraho, Gibuma, Savage tries; Morrison-Sailor 4, Lewis goals).

C Grade Grand Final

Ivanhoes 22 (Snider, B. Pye, Sagigi, Bannister tries; Brim 2, Pye goals) def. Malanda 16 (Parnell, Fox, Nagy tries; Ball 2 goals).

Under 16s NQ Cowboys Challenge

Kangaroos (CDJRL champions) 52 def. Ravenshoe (EJRL champions) 4.