Ivanhoe Knights ended a 25-year drought by clinching their first CDRL premiership since 1991 with a thrilling 19-12 win over Cairns Brothers in the A Grade grand final at Barlow Park on Saturday.
The Smithfield club took an early 10-0 lead thanks to tries from Tristan Mackay and Akeripa Tia-Kilifi before Brothers hit back through Chris Riesen and Corey Child to level the game 12-12 at the break.
A tense scoreless 37 minutes in the second half was finally broken when player of the match Troyson Bassini scooted under the posts following a Ben Reed break.
CDRL Gold Medal nominee Jared Verney sealed the win for Ivanhoes with a field goal in the dying seconds amid emotional scenes.
“That was a great grand final. It came down to the last six or seven minutes and either side could have won,” said Ivanhoes coach Ben Rauter, who won CDRL Coach of the Year at last week’s Gold Medal Dinner.
“Building pressure, that’s all a grand final is, and we managed to hold the ball a few times there, put the pressure on Brothers – and we got the lucky bounce and got the try.
“It’s been 25 years coming, so obviously there’s some happy people around today,” he told The Cairns Post.
Brothers coach Ben Groves said his side just ran out of energy at the end after Ivanhoes’ fast start gave his side plenty of defensive work early on.
“It was gutsy actually,” Groves told The Cairns Post.
“Probably Ivanhoes did to us what we thought we were going to do to them in the end, but we just did far too much defence in the first half and I chewed up too many interchanges.
“I’ll probably take the heat for that, but we were out on our feet towards the end.
“I honestly thought we’d come out in the second half and steamroll them, but it wasn’t to be.”
Brothers did have some reason to celebrate however, after their Under 18s side beat Innisfail 32-16 in their grand final.
Tully Tigers proved too strong for Ivanhoes in the Reserve Grade grand final, running out 24-6 winners.
Meanwhile, Mossman-Port Douglas Sharks clinched the Second Division premiership after a thrilling 22-20 victory over Cairns Kangaroos.
CDRL FINALS SERIES - GRAND FINAL) 2016 RESULTS
SATURDAY 24 SEPTEMBER (at Barlow Park, Cairns)
Mossman-Port Douglas Sharks 22-20 Cairns Kangaroos
Cairns Brothers 32-16 Innisfail Leprechauns
Tully Tigers 24-6 Ivanhoe Knights
Ivanhoe Knights 19 (Mackay, Tia-Kilifi, Bassini tries; J. Verney 3 goals; J. Verney field goal) def Cairns Brothers 12 (Riesen, Child tries; Kepa 2 goals)
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