Reigning premiers Cairns Kangaroos kept alive their hopes of back-to-back titles after a thrilling 32-26 win over Tully Tigers in their David McCoy Homes Cairns Key Real Estate Cairns District Rugby League A Grade Preliminary Final clash at Barlow Park on Sunday.
In a dramatic clash with momentum continually swinging both ways, it was left to Roos forward Keelan White to score the match-winning try with just three minutes left on the clock.
Minor premiers Tully had raced out to a 12-0 lead before Roos piled on 26 unanswered points, which spurred the Tigers into a response as they drew level with 10 minutes left.
But White took advantage of an overlap to clinch a thrilling win for his side, and book Roos a place in the 2014 Grand Final where they will meet Innisfail Leprechauns next week.
Roos sealed their first premiership in 26 years last season, and will go into the Grand Final confident of claiming two titles in a row.
For Tully, it was a disappointing end to what has been an historic season, as they landed their first ever CDRL minor premiership.
Roos coach Michael White praised Tully for their part in such a memorable game, but was thankful his side claimed their seventh win in a row.
“It was a tough win and full credit to Tully – they didn’t go away,” White told The Cairns Post.
“For most of that second half they had the momentum.
“It just came down to taking your opportunities and we converted. The most pleasing thing was that the boys hung in there when they were attacking our line.
“They had a chance in the last 10 minutes but we did well to hold them out.
“The belief has always been there. We have come a fair distance but we’ve still got a bit to do.”
Tully coach Leon Hallie said did not regard it as an opportunity lost (to win a premiership), with Roos being defending premiers.
“They’re a good team,” Hallie told The Cairns Post.
“Most things were pretty good but we just got lazy in defence at times.”
Roos back Linc Port scored two tries, while Jared Allen was also impressive, while Gold Medal nominee Aaron Jolley (two tries, three goals) was outstanding for the Tigers in a losing cause.
2014 BENDIGO BANK CDRL A GRADE – FINALS (Week 3) RESULTS
Sunday 14 September – Barlow Park, Cairns
Cairns Kangaroos 32 (Port 2, White, Allen, Kerwick, Doi tries; Stephen 4 goals) def Tully Tigers 26 (Jolley 2, Miglio, Rix, Sitapa tries; Jolley 3 goals).
Other CDRL Preliminary Finals results
RESERVES (Sunday 14 September, Barlow Park)
Cairns Brothers 30-26 Mossman-Port Douglas Sharks
UNDER 18s (Sunday 7 September, Barlow Park)
Tully Tigers 20-10 Cairns Brothers
C GRADE (Saturday 13 September, Barlow Park)
Edmonton Storm 36-16 Cairns Brothers