The best of the Toowoomba Rugby League was on show on Saturday night in the second annual All Stars game at Clive Berghofer Stadium.
The South West Queensland Emus snatched a nail-biting win over the TRL All Stars when last minute call-up Willie Duncan scored in the 80th minute to break the 22-22 deadlock.
The game was a thrilling one and the possible result hung in the balance throughout the match.
Young Dylan Chown opened the scoring for the All Stars when he finished off a good team try in the corner.
Inspirational Emus captain Nathan Gaulton hit back, levelling the scores at 6-6 before All Stars debutant Tom Boland scrambled over to score and edge his team in front 12-6 after 15 minutes.
The game settled down and showed off some free-flowing footy from one end to the other.
Emus’ five-eighth Corey McGrady, who has newly-returned to the TRL competition, played well and helped contribute to the scoreboard, kicking early in the 33rd minute to his flying winger Aaron Hooper, who won the race to score a wonderful try and lock it up at 12-12. It remained that way at halftime.
Broncos bound Denzel Burns was the next to score and put the Emus in front for the first time in the match, 18-12.
Warwick’s Ben Sullivan locked the scores up again after one of the tries of the night - Ty Gardner broke the line and passed to Chown who then kicked in-field off his left foot to Sullivan who collected and scored the four-pointer, making it 18-18.
Gardner, who was having a cracker of a game, regained the All Stars’ lead after an excellent team raid, pushing the scoreboard to 22-18.
The Emus weren’t to be outdone with Josh Robinson finishing off an excellent Emus try to again tie the ball game up at 22-22.
The clash had everything, with the Emus’ attempted conversion to sneak ahead waived away after hitting the posts.
The quality of the contest, for so early in the season, was breathtaking and left the crowd on the edge of their seats in an enthralling competition.
A draw would have been deserving, but the Emus had other ideas.
With only one-minute remaining, and on the last tackle, the Emus took their final chance for victory.
McGrady had many options when he had the ball on the halfway line.
He decided to run the ball.
Enter the fast-flying winger Burns, who beat the opposition one after another to find support.
He found Robinson who linked with Duncan to score an amazing try, clinching the game for his fellow Emus.
It was an astonishing contest that went from one end to another.
As the Broncos and Titans supporters teemed into the ground for the trial match, they witnessed Toowoomba Rugby League footy at its finest.
For the Emus, captain Nathan Gaulton led from the front whilst TRL player of the year, Aaron Cherry was everywhere.
Halves Jarred Lee and Corey McGrady were the difference for the Emus following last year’s defeat and added much-needed experience.
The TRL All Stars players can hold their heads high with an equally good performance and their experienced players mixed well with the youth in the side.
Co-captains Jason Wardrop and Matt Duggan tried hard all night.
Xavier Manley and Dale Perkins led from the front whilst Jackson Green, Ben Sullivan and Dylan Chown all performed well, and Ty Gardner stood up in higher company.
SOUTH WEST QUEENSLAND EMUS 28 (Nathan Gaulton, Aaron Hooper, Denzel Burns, Josh Robinson, Willie Duncan tries; Jesse Miles 2, Jarred Lee 2 goals) defeated TRL ALL STARS 22 (Dylan Chown, Tom Boland, Ben Sullivan, Ty Gardner tries; Matt Duggan 3 goals)