Taking my seat in the stands for the Open 3 Southside match between bottom-placed teams Flagstone Phoenix vs Logan Brothers, I had no idea what I was in for in terms of skill.
Fortunately for me and the other hardy supporters who had flocked to see this local derby, we were treated to a superb game of football that ended up playing out in a 26-26 draw.
The Phoenix who have had major problems finding a home this season, found themselves utilising the Rochedale Tigers homeground on Saturday and, judging by this performance, look comfortable in their new surroundings.
However, after a sluggish start by both teams, the first points came after nine minutes of play through the Phoenix and their outstanding lock forward Alex Fogavini. The tall, rangy backrower’s marauding run split open the Logan defence and he crashed over under the sticks to open up the scoring.
Logan hit back within three minutes, levelling the scores when second-row forward Andrew Muliaga strolled in for the easiest of tries on the back of a 40/20 kick by Ldejshay Tupea-Ranginuill.
Heat drains pack
It became apparent early on that the heat was playing a part in both forward packs struggling to get out of second gear, however Flagstone’s backrower Zacarie Luscombe thundered down the sideline from a scrumbase move and he finished off what was an impressive set play.
Then, in a blink of an eye, Flagstone’s Fogavini would again see his name on the scoresheet showing a clean pair of heels to outrun his bigger opponents and crash in beside the posts to see the home side enjoying a comfortable 16-6 lead.
Logan, however, settled any nerves two minutes into the second half, when hulking second rower Levii Hemopo used his brute strength to power over attracting four Phoenix defenders to peg the score back to 16-10.
With the match going back and forth and end to end, Flagstone went further ahead courtesy again of Luscombe, who took a superb pass on his inside from halfback Josh Barker to notch his double for the afternoon.
Special mention must go to Logan’s Terrell Fletcher, who was possibly the best player on the park. The hard working forward was a diamond in the rough and steered his forwards around the park for the entirety of the game.
The next try would have any higher division clubs sit up and take notice as Logan’s busy hooker Tupea-Ranginuill ran riot in the latter stages of the match and scooted 20m from dummy-half, stepping and gliding his way through the Phoenix defence to score what was a gutsy, determined try.
Further tries to Flagstones William Mateai and another two outstanding solo efforts by Logan’s Tupea-Ranginuill eventually saw the game locked up at 26-26.
Bizarrely, Flagstone had a player dispatched to the sin bin for fighting in the last two minutes, which saw his team down to 12 men in the dying stages. Logan’s Alec Stewart had a gift penalty goal right in front 30m out to win the game, but the ball sailed out to the right.
In a frantic last 30 seconds of play, both sides tried everything possible to secure the win, however time would not permit either side to land the knockout blow, instead walking away with a point a piece.
Final score: Flagstone Phoenix 26 drew Logan Brothers 26.