Jubilation as Flagstone hang tough
If a picture truly does paint a thousand words, then the jubilant scenes at full-time could have made a masterpiece in Flagstone's courageous 32-26 win over Browns Plains in the Rugby League Brisbane contest.
Flagstone had to fight every inch of the way in this Open 3 Southside encounter and the sense of relief of another tight win for the Phoenix was all too palpable.
Flagstone's William Mateai finished a smart move by the home side to crash in and score in the second minute, sending an early warning to the Bears, who appeared shell-shocked in the opening stanza.
Phoenix replacement Robert Solia was more akin to a circus acrobat with his spectacular try to further increase the score as the crowd built.
But all the early good work by Flagstone came undone in the blink of an eye, as a mistake from the restart gifted Bears hooker Josh Huni the easiest of tries from the next passage of play.
Straight from the kick-off Huni's spectacular step, broke the Flagstone line again and he burst into open space to score arguably the try of the game, racing 70m to score under the posts.
But just as the Bears pipped their noses in front at 12-10, Phoenix lock and captain Waikato Falefehi smashed his way through the Bears defence to take back the lead.
Browns Plains defiant stance upped the ante right before halftime, with two brilliant tries including one blistering effort by Bears winger Darnell Parker.
The speedy winger left the Flagstone defence in his wake to score a decisive and important try right before the break to go in leading 22-16.
Flagstone wasted no time in the second half to get back on the scoresheet with Christmas Tevita strolling in for an easy try to level the scores at 22-22.
The Phoenix were in again nine minutes later, when big Ben Sevealii latched on to a Marc Lotam pass to crash in and score under the sticks.
With the large contingent of supporters powering the Phoenix home, a second breakaway try to Mataeai had Flagstone in good stead at 32-22 with a minute on the clock.
However, there was enough time for Browns Plains to make one final mark on the match with a try in the last six seconds to Jackson Woodward, who chased a grubber through to score right on the bell, but it was all too late.
Mike Simpson is a QRL correspondent covering Rugby League Brisbane.