RIDING on a wave of home support, the Northern Pride have claimed a 14-12 win over the Townsville Stingers to take this year’s Cyril Connell Cup state title.
It was a hard-fought win for the unfancied side, who kicked a penalty goal in the final minute of the match to claim the victory and with it – a chance to press for the national championship.
The first time the Pride had ever reached a state grand final – they didn’t let a poor start to the match get them down; fighting hard in the second half to get themselves into a winning position.
For the Stingers it was a crushing end to their Cyril Connell campaign, having gone through undefeated in all their past matches – including a 44-12 thrashing of their grand final opponents in round 3.
Townsville looked like they were going to continue their dominance over their northern rivals, scoring easily in the opening minutes thanks to winger Lachlan LaRosa.
However – as proved to be the case for the whole afternoon – they were unable to convert their tries – leaving the door open for the Pride.
Following their opening try, they continued to pile the pressure on the Pride and soon scored another two tries to go out to a 12-0 lead.
On the back foot and comparatively inexperienced in finals football – the Pride were able to get on the score board through the quick Quinlyn Cannon with two minutes left in the half.
The try was converted and the home side went into the sheds 12-6 down, but with the confidence they could come out firing in the second half.
It was a much more settled start Pride side that came out to start the new half, and their defence - which had let them down in the first half - this time could not be faulted.
They held their opposition scoreless and – with just over 10 minutes to go in the match – scored via front rower Gabrial Bon. The conversion by skipper Jake Clifford was successful, drawing scores level to 12-12.
The pressure of the situation told on both sides, as both tried everything to break the deadlock.
However, as the Pride attempted a field goal – the Stingers gave away a penalty; with Clifford calmly slotting it over for the two points and ultimately – the state championship.
CYRIL CONNELL CUP
Saturday 3 May
NORTHERN PRIDE 14 (Gabrial Bon, Quinlyn Cannon tries; Jake Clifford 3 goals) def TOWNSVILLE STINGERS 12 (Campbell Duffy, Lachlan LaRosa, Christian Power tries) at Barlow Park. Man of the Match: Jake Clifford (Northern Pride).
NEXT GAMES – Interstate Final
Photo: Maria Girgenti Madcap Photography