IF you believe in omens – things were not looking promising for the Northern Pride on grand final day.
The results of the two curtain-raiser matches did not bode well for the minor premiers who were the first team through to this year’s grand final. In the FOGS Colts Challenge and FOGS Cup deciders, the major semi-final winners both went down in their respective deciders.
Grand final day is a special day and preparations for the first kick-off began early. Staff meetings deep within the bowels of the stadium were to be attended – but not before a quick peek out at the hallowed turf of Suncorp Stadium – what a magnificent stage.
RECENTLY named to return to the Brisbane Broncos in the assistant coach role he originally held almost 10 years ago under Wayne Bennett – Queensland great Kevin Walters summed up the feeling of the day.
“I love grand final day; it’s a great day grand final day,” Walters said.
“No matter what level or competition, grand final day is really special for everyone involved in the game.”
REDCLIFFE fans decked out in their red and white arrived early and in good numbers. Their FOGS Colts team were the underdogs – but proved to have real bite, upsetting the Bears for the Under 20s crown.
The FOGS Cup saw a more closely contested match as the building crowd witnessed a thrilling comeback from Easts Tigers to win their third consecutive Cup title. This is where their run will remain however, with the competition to be replaced with a new Brisbane Rugby League structure for the 2015 season.
ON THE field – apart from the football itself – there was plenty of other titbits that may have got lost in the excitement of the day:
After he was repeatedly confirmed as an unlucky omission for the Pride, Kyle Feldt ran out to start for the Pride and promptly scored the first try of the match.
Easts half Liam Tyson slotted a perfect conversion – but unfortunately it was for a try that wasn’t awarded.
Tigers forward Liam McDonald’s head got more close-ups than even he could have hoped for; with his new match day Mohawk haircut a topic of discussion – as was a subsequent cut to the scalp and unfortunate wrap-around strapping.
Easts winger Richie Kennar – the first Victorian junior player to make an Australian Schoolboys team – showed the kind of skill that would not have been out of place in the AFL grand final held the day before, with his high leaps for high balls a feature of the season.
And to add a nice northern twist, the Pride are first minor premiers to go on and win the premiership since the NQ Young Guns in 2005.
In the end, the main game wasn’t the close contest everyone had predicted, with the Northern Pride proving too good and showing for this year at least – the week off before “the big dance” was the most beneficial path to the decider.
It was a fitting reward for the side who were the most dominant team all year and has provided a fantastic platform for their players (some of whom have never been outside these state borders) who will play on NRL grand final day this Sunday; arguably the biggest stage in rugby league.
NRL CEO Dave Smith came to Suncorp Stadium to soak in the atmosphere of Intrust Super Cup grand final day and was impressed by what the competition had offered up all season.
“It’s just been a terrific season that culminates today and then next week you’ve got the grand prize at the grand final,” Smith said.
“It doesn’t get any better than that – it’s been a great season.”
Some things we learnt from around the ground:
- Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy is just like the rest of us and enjoys tucking into a pie (or two!) at a footy match
- Laurel Edwards (of 4KQ fame) – is a relative of Arthur “Fatty” Edwards – the Brisbane Valleys halfback who played for both Queensland and Australia and was “the Original Fatty” in Laurel’s words. She is also the football expert in her house – although hubby Troy Cassar-Daley is also a rugby league fan and will be supporting the Bunnies this weekend.
- Although Petero Civoniceva, Justin Hodges and Jharal Yow Yeh will be forever bonded as great Queenslander players – they don’t mind a bit of banter – with Yow Yeh on the receiving end. Apparently wingers don’t know how to pass the ball?
- In the media box, it was good to see Channel 9 representative Adam Jackson (formerly of the north) proudly showing off his true colours, coming to the game wearing his Pride shirt. Adam loves his Intrust Super Cup and provides great coverage for the competition during the season.
- Now – we didn’t get confirmation on this one, but every time the Pride scored a try – an excited, high-pitched squeal could be heard coming from what sounded like the Channel 9 commentators room. We are looking at you Brent Tate – well done on your Intrust Super Cup calling debut!
**Follow the progress of the Northern Pride as they prepare to face off against NSW Cup winner Penrith Panthers via our NRL State Championship information page.