Souths Sunnybank remain equal second on the Open 1 South ladder after a hard fought 20-14 win over a gutsy St Brendan’s side played at suburban Woff St Sunnybank.
Both teams served up a thriller as the end to end action was a plenty and made it an appeasing match to watch. The strong army of Sunnybank fans were out in force in a true sense of club support.
With the pig pen packed to the rafters, there was no shortage of old fashioned banter between the two clubs which made the atmosphere that little bit more electric.
The hallmark of a good rugby league game is not always in the skill level which, to be fair was not of the highest quality on occasions here. However, a game where the result is never confirmed to the very end crates tension, drama and excitement.
Sunnybank’s victory had all of that.
Outstanding Sunnybank centre Michael Gunthorpe was simply superb in this match. His strong fends and speed and agility was the catalyst for the Magpies first try as he glided in to score in the 10th minute after some clever lead up work by halfback Shannon Bennett.
Play was spread from right to left in Sunnybank’s next try and some clever intuition by fullback Wes Collins saw him find some space to find lock Luke Wilson on his inside to score beside the posts.
Gunthorpe nailed the easy conversion and Sunnybank had bolted out of the blocks at 10-0.
With the parochial crowd still behind the Magpies, the faithful supporters wanted more points. But it would be St Brendan’s who would score next as they played hot potato with the football and probably scored the try of the match early on.
A blistering run up the middle by centre Damien Butler saw him burst through some soft defence outwide and as he drew Sunnybank’s fullback put boot to ball and found a flying Dale Palmer-Barton who collected a well-timed bounce to dive over and score.
At 10-4 it appeared that St Brendan’s were not going to be bullied out of this game.
Strong defence was brutal from both camps with Sunnybank’s towering prop Saia Futuna a standout for the Maggies and St Brendan’s best served by Sean Tila and lock Nick Murray.
St Brendan’s only had to wait another minute before they scored next as centre Caleb Lafalae from the kick off burst through the middle of the park and with the ears pinned back just didn’t have that extra yard of pace but found his centre partner in crime Butler who made no mistake planting the ball over the chalk.
With The Saints now honing in on the home side at 10-8, it was game on.
Again the end to end action was fantastic. Both sides had their attacking weapons in full force and this proved even Steven throughout the match. Gunthorpe for Sunnybank was still proving a handful outwide as was five eighth Dean Weller whose kicks in general play were pin point.
With two mins left on the clock in the opening stanza, Sunnybank had their supporters in rapture once again as a charging replacement Jake Wong heroically took on the massive St Brendan’s pack head on and came up trumps skittling aside 3 able bodies to score beside the sticks.
Gunthorpe would land the conversion right on the hooter with Sunnybank leading 16-8.
With the home ground advantage to Sunnybank and a massive crowd against them, St Brendan’s should have been a tad nervous coming out for the second half. This would be far from the case. It was The Saints who bagged the first try after the interval courtesy of a magnificent 40/20 kick by five-eighth Jay Tarawhiti.
From the ensuing scrum it was powerful second row forward Paul Mikalae who like a hungry beast smashed aside the Sunnybank defence like ten pins to score.
Hooker Luke Palmer made no mistake with the conversion making it 16-14.
Hearts of both supporters were in their mouths for the frantic final five minutes of this game, as again play swept up and down and side to side in a phenomenal show of rugby league. It would however take some brilliance by Sunnybank’s halfback Bennett who chipped over the St Brendan’s defensive line and found hard working second rower Chad Chandler who collected the precise bounce and score a magnificent try.