Once in a while you get a truly great rugby league game to watch.
But on Saturday, an overwhelming game of rugby league took place at Tapout Energy Stadium as Open 1 North side Mitchelton Panthers bravely defeated arch rivals Dayboro Cowboys in a thrilling Grand Final 24-21 that will stand the test of time.
In a no hold barred contest, defences reigned supreme. I can’t think of one player on the field that never gave his all for his side in this brutal encounter that had players out on their feet in a gripping climax that had everything.
Hats off to the Brisbane Second Division Rugby League. For a voluntary run organisation, the place was packed and the atmosphere was absolutely electric.
In the early stages of the game, it would appear that Dayboro had their game plan down pat as they dominated the Panthers in the opening 20 minutes. Having the week off looked like working a treat for the Cowboys as they looked fresh and ready to play.
But after a mistake by the Panthers kicking out on the full, the Cowboys turned defence into attack and in no time were only five metres out from the Panthers line. After repeat sets of six, the Panthers finally succumbed to true grit and determination, as busy Cowboys hooker Adam Harris burrowed his way over to give the Cowboys a 4-0 lead.
A superb conversion by Kane Zalewski edged the minor premiers out to a 6-0 lead.
After some bone jarring defence by both sides, you would think that the intensity and carnage would be much less, not so. Mitchelton with regular body bashers in Patelesio, Tiddy and Stanley simply wreaked havoc. Their heroic display was rubbing off on the other players and they were dripping black and red blood.
But as the Mud and Blood of Mitchelton were having a personal war up the middle with the Cowboys, Dayboro simply played to the game plan and were rewarded in the 23rd Minute with a great try spread through the backline finding an unmarked Daniel Harris.
Again a stellar sideline conversion by Zalweski lit up the ground and the Cowboys had hit a very commanding 12-0 lead.
But just as the Cowboys thought they may be riding off into the sunset back intto town, the Panthers inched their way back into the game. Impressive Panthers five Eighth Andrew Skrzypa’s towering bomb was fumbled by the Cowboys fullback and found an unmarked Luke Field who gladly planted the ball over the line for the Panther’s first try.
Skrzypa’s beautiful sideline conversion had the Panthers back in the hunt at 12-6.
But Mitchelton were not finished just yet. Standout Fijian flyer Nicholas Kisi was put into space and in full flight, the powerful winger added another try to the Panthers tally.
As halftime was nearing though, a silly penalty in the play the ball area by Mitchelton, gifted two points to Zalewski right on the hooter as he made no mistake with the easy penalty goal and would see both sides head to the sheds for a well-earned respite.
As both sides hit the paddock for the second stanza, storm clouds were brewing in the distance and you just knew a storm was destined to happen out on the field if the first half was anything to go by. As the referee signalled time on again, a war of attrition was happening out on the field. It was as if someone had wound the clock back to the old Brisbane Rugby League competition as two battle hardened clubs went at each other in a good old fashioned bash n barge.
Mitchelton however would be the first to score in the second half that saw the game locked up at 14-14. This game was not finished with by a long shot.
For the Cowboys you just can’t go past the Harris brothers Steve, Adam and Daniel. For sheer loyalty to the club, these three men are simply inspirational. Tireless in defence and superior in attack, they are what grassroots rugby league is all about.
But as a tight of a unit as the Cowboys are, take nothing away from Zalewski who was superb, halfback Josh Hawkins and workaholic captain Adam King who not only busted his gut all game, but managed to score a gallant try to keep the Cowboys in the hunt.
With Zalewski’s kicking proving to be flawless, the Cowboys again had nudged their noses in front leading 20-14.
But just like any good side, you never say never. Fleet footed Fijian flyer Kisi, again would show the crowd why he is a try scoring machine as he weaved his way through some tired Cowboys defence to score a great solo try to make it 20-18.
Second choice kicker Paul Stanley made no mistake with the conversion to see the game again locked up at 20-20.
As condition’s were slowly deteriorating with the ensuing rain in the distance edging closer, Cowboys Five eighth Zalewski again proving his worth to the side, managed to somehow knock over a field goal that just limped over the crossbar to see the Cowboys hit the lead 21-20.
With minutes counting down and the Cowboys looking to wrap up the game, the unthinkable happened when they knocked on from the restart of play. Mitchelton now in a prime position to seal the game did so courtesy of winger Keanan Yow Yeh as he put his name into local league folklore with a scintillating try.
At 24-21 and with literally 30 seconds left on the clock Dayboro threw one last ditched effort at the Panthers to snatch victory, but Mitchelton’s defence in a show of immortal strength, somehow managed to hold out the Cowboys to take out the spoils 24-21 in what was a grandstand finish.
In the earlier games, Norths St Joseph’s provided some magnificent tries defeating Brighton 28-16 in the Open 3 Division. For St Joseph’s, Lonergan, Bowman and Sila were outstanding in a one sided affair. For the Roosters playmaker Renehan was his sides best.
In the Open 2 North Division, Banyo were simply rock solid thrashing Moreton Bay Pride 34-8. Banyo’s Bronish, Tengdui and Togasiua played out of their skins and for the Pride Collins and Tyndall tried hard.