Ivanhoes produced a remarkable comeback to shock Tully Tigers and book their place in the 2015 Cairns District Rugby League A Grade Grand Final after an amazing 32-26 win at Barlow Park on Sunday.
Minor premiers Tully were tipped to be too strong for the Knights, who finished the regular season in fifth spot.
But despite being 22-6 behind with 22 minutes left on the clock, Ivanhoes produced a stirring fightback to clinch their first Grand Final place for 14 years, where they will now face Innisfail.
Full-back Reece Munster was the Ivanhoes hero, scoring the match-winning try three minutes from time, and in the process collected the LD Total Cairns Player of the Round.
After upsetting Southern Suburbs and Cairns Brothers in earlier finals rounds, Ivanhoes coach Ben Rauter said his side always believed they could come back from their slow start against Tully.
“We had a game plan and we stuck to it,” Rauter told The Cairns Post.
“The boys weren’t panicking at half-time and were quite confident.
“Momentum turned and we got some lucky bounces and the rest is history.
“You make your own luck and we put ourselves in position to score those tries. The boys pushed on well for each other.”
Tigers coach Leon Hallie, who went out in straight sets in last year’s finals after also winning the minor premiership, was understandably disappointed at the final whistle.
“It was a good game but at 22-6 up we should have put them to bed,” Hallie told The Cairns Post.
“But we just weren’t good enough. They were good and patient and waited for their opportunity.
“Innisfail will be tough to beat but if they keep completing sets like they did here they could challenge anyone.”
Munster (2), Brad Quodling, Codey Kennedy and Zane Prior were the Ivanhoes try scorers, while Greg Miglio, Jake Clifford, Maloni Lama and Matt Musumeci crossed for Tully.
Ivanhoes, who have not won a premiership since 1991, will now face Innisfail, who themselves have not won a Grand Final since 2006.
2015 CDRL FINALS (Week 3)
SUNDAY 13 SEPTEMBER (Barlow Park, Cairns)
A Grade Preliminary Final
Ivanhoe Knights 32 (Munster 2, Quodling, Kennedy, Prior tries; Verney 2, Munster, Mackay goals) def Tully Tigers 26 (Miglio, Musumeci, Clifford, Lama tries; Clifford 3 goals).
Other CDRL Finals Week 3 results
Cairns Brothers 22-10 Tully Tigers
Cairns Brothers 34-22 Innisfail Leprechauns
Southern Suburbs 26-22 Malanda Eels