Cup stalwarts and now Brisbane Second Division coaches Ricky Bird (Brisbane Natives) and Wayne Treleaven (Normanby) went head to head in one of the most entertaining games of the year at Purtell Park.
Normanby took the spoils 27-26 in a see sawing game that took in a Jacob Thomas 40m field goal to separate the two teams in the end.
With both teams having minimal players for this clash, it proved to be a gallant effort by both sides to hang in there and give the disappointing lowly crowd a match that was worthy of a more bumper attendance. The hardy souls who did come out and support the players were treated to a stellar performance of hard hitting defence, end to end plays and sweeping backline moves.
Natives started well and were first to hit the scoresheet after a penalty 10m out saw the ever impressive Anthony Gadd crash his way over out wide. With Gadd missing the conversion for his own try, Natives looked like they were taking no prisoners early on in the match.
It was Gadd again who is truly a handful to tackle from his sheer strength and size who offloaded a beautiful pass to halfback Budd who raced over to score the Natives second try of the afternoon. With Gadd making no mistake with the difficult conversion, it was soon 10-0 Natives after 20 mins of play.
Despite the heavy waves of attack by the Natives, Normanby stayed cool, calm and collected to get in on the action themselves and after some brilliant lead up work by halfback Thomas, it was centre Chris Muharem who delivered the final pass to winger Jack Connor who barged his way over. With the conversion waved away, the Hounds were on the scoreboard trailing 10-4.
Five minutes later and with some good field possession by the Hounds nearly saw them go over again when hulking prop Kyle Coombs was held up over the line by the Natives defence. Unfortunately the Natives, although heroic with some punishing tackles, were unable to hold on any longer and Harvey Warner made no mistake planting the ball down in the corner. Thomas with a very impressive sideline conversion had the scores all levelled up at 10-10.
But again with his trademark bulldozing runs it was that man again Gadd who was almost unstoppable with every run of the ball and on the last tackle chipped for hooker Sandow who spectacurly caught and dived over to score.
On the stroke of halftime and with a minute to play the Hounds were not going down without a fight and the Hounds best player halfback Thomas again with his impressive kicking display grubberred a kick through for centre Muharem who crossed on the siren. Thomas, under some pressure to convert from the sideline, was as cool as a cucumber and his conversion went straight over the black dot to have Normanby leading at the break 16-14.
The second half kicked off well for the Natives and playmaker Gadd was in no mood to succumb to defeat as he wound up to charge through the Normanby defence and made a beautiful break up field to find his fullback Conlan in support who went in under the posts in the 46th minute.
With the easy conversion the Natives were back in front 20-16. Normanby brilliantly led by powerhouse prop Coombs, lock Mitch Stalker and halfback Thomas were simply inspirational to their fellow players and lifted to a whole new level when needed.
This would pave the way for their next try when the barnstorming Coombs made a mockery of the Natives defence and with four players hanging off him, crashed over for a well deserved try. With Thomas bizarrely missing the easy conversion, again it was all tied up at 20-20 and the small crowd were in for a grandstand finish at this rate.
The Natives however found some extra petrol in the tank and winger Ninyette took advantage of the overlap out wide to race in unopposed and score. Gadd kicked the conversion from the sideline to hand the Natives a 26-20 lead and at that stage they looked like finishing off the Hounds but this wasn’t to be.
After some consecutive dropped balls by the Natives, the Hounds were in good field position to score and did so from lock Stalker who stepped past centre Georgetown to cross. With Thomas again finding his kicking boots, he levelled the scores yet again 26-26.
With two minutes to play on the clock, it was a spectacular effort by Thomas who from 40m out kicked an incredible field goal which came sweetly off the boot to sail over and give the Hounds a well earned 27-26 victory.