Photo and story courtesy of southburnett.com.au
Saturday was an historic day for the South Burnett: it was the first time Cherbourg has hosted an A Grade rugby league grand final, and to the home fans’ delight, the Hornets notched up an emphatic “three-peat” victory.
The local derby between the unbeaten Cherbourg Hornets and the Murgon Mustangs was always going to attract a big crowd of vocal supporters to Jack O’Chin Oval on Saturday, and the fans didn’t disappoint.
They packed the stands and marquees erected along the sidelines.
Cherbourg Shire Council and the Hornets club had prepared the playing field to a high standard for the big day of Grand Final action.
Before the A Grade kick-off, many of the players from Cherbourg’s first South Burnett A Grade premiership win in 1980 were presented to the large crowd.
The Hornets – looking for their third premiership win in a row – were the red-hot favourites, having sailed through the season undefeated.
True to form, Cherbourg scored first when Daniel Cobbo crossed the line after just two minutes.
Murgon’s Joe Sullivan – who has put the Mustangs’ first points on the board in their last two games – quickly fired back. Jameel Sullivan’s conversion put the Mustangs into the lead.
Both sides then tested each other out with neither making headway until the mid-point of the half when Dennis Sandow broke through and scored.
Fred Aubrey kicked the first of his seven goals for the day to put Cherbourg back into the lead.
Alex Speedy and Cecil Sullivan then scored back-to-back tries to draw the Hornets further ahead and starving the Mustangs of possession.
Eight minutes before half-time, Murgon’s Mullie Watson narrowed the gap to just eight points when he converted Kane Liddy’s try.
But with two minutes left, Cherbourg scored twice more – Cecil Sullivan who picked up a grubber kick from Fred Aubrey and scored, and then with just seconds left, Gordon Fisher planted the ball under the posts.
The Hornets led 30-12 at the half-time break and seemed dominant, although the Mustangs looked dangerous whenever they managed to get some ball.
A Murgon fightback after the break gave fans some hope with tries to Keith Walsh and Jameel Sullivan again bringing the Mustangs to within eight points, 30-22.
In response, Cherbourg changed gears, laying on five tries in less than 10 minutes: Alex Speedy, Cecil Sullivan, Beau Liddy, Fred Aubrey and Bernard Hopkins.
With Cherbourg leading 58-22, Hopkins then surprised onlookers by kicking a field goal to take the lead out to 59-22.
Mullie Watson scored a consolation try for Murgon with three minutes on the clock, to make the final scoreline 59-26.