Australians may take their sport seriously; and competition between rivals can bring out the big hits in a game of rugby league. But in this lucky country underlying all that is something else – mateship and respect.
Few workplaces exude more competiveness and comradeship than that of the emergency services, and the rugby league field provides as good an outlet as any for those who routinely deal in death and trauma.
In what is fast becoming an annual tradition, the Queensland Police Service Rugby League team takes on the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Rugby League team each September in memory of their uniformed comrades who died in the World Trade Centre buildings in 2001.
It may look like any other red versus blue contest, but the jerseys in these match are adorned with the service badges and death toll of their brothers-in-arms.
As a fundraising match, the funds raised went to Police and Firefighter charities.
Having been played since 2011, the Police team had dominated the previous matches and were looking to extend the string of victories in 2015.
However, the Police only managed to field half the team that had performed strongly in the Police Tri-Series earlier this year.
In previous years, the Police team had managed to call on a number of former NRL players-turned-coppers to spread some experience around the field, but with a number of injuries this year the boot was on the other foot.
The Firies team boasted more than 500 NRL games within the team and the results showed.
The Firies team gelled from the outset and consistently made metres up the edge of the ruck and had speed to burn down the sideline.
The halftime score of 26-0 told some of the story; it could have been more for the men in red if not for some errors on last plays.
For the Police is was a hard day at the office. A new halves pairing had little time to find its feet and the team faced a hard slog going forward with too many unforced errors.
In short, the Firies were faster, bigger and stronger across the paddock, but it was their support play that led to many of the tries; half breaks were backed up and scrambling police defence was thwarted by multiple finishing options.
The Police team did manage to salvage some pride with a try with three minutes on the clock, but it was not pretty with a close range desperate dive over the line through the legs of an unsuspecting defence. The final score was 38-6.
Queensland Police Service Commissioner Ian Stewart was on hand to award the Memorial Shield to Queensland Fire and Emergency Services captain Thomas Eyles.
Both captains were gracious in their praise of their opponents, but regardless of the result, were always mindful of those they were ultimately there to pay respect to.