The Kirwan Bears turned around the disappointment of last year to claim the Phil Hall Cup with a spirited performance against Marsden in the Queensland state final of the NRL National Schoolboy Cup.
At the very same ground of Langlands Park last season, the North Queensland side went down 32-26 to Palm Beach Currumbin in a seesawing game that was decided only in the final moments.
Kirwan coach Todd Wilson praised the resolve of his players to turn the result around this year.
“They played really well, there were patches when they were under pressure and they hung in there and came out the other side, and just through the weight of possession, we ended up getting over the top of them and scoring some points early in that second half," Wilson said.
“(It is) certainly different being on the other side, that’s for sure.
“We have four guys that played last year, so not a big number of them, but they were four pretty important guys for us.
“Their experience helped us today to keep a cool head and to get us to where we needed to go on the field.
"Our hooker (Adrian Trevilyan), our two halves (Tareq Parter and Brad Schneider) and our fullback (Steven Numambo) were all here last year and they steered us around the park today.
“Their experience – our halves with their kicking game, Adrian with his running and testing it through the middle and Steven was dynamic as ever – so those four guys were great.”
While the match itself turned out to be the entertaining fixture fans were expecting in the end, Kirwan did all the damage in the early stages of the second half to take Marsden out of the contest.
The NQ side took a 12-6 lead into the halftime break after they hit back after letting Marsden hooker Ezra Teuila in for the opening try of the match, with Konrad Tu’ua converting.
They firstly levelled up thanks to Tyrone Gunn-James who dummied then ducked his way over the line after his side had received a number of penalties to get in good position, with Schneider kicking the conversion.
They went ahead with just over two minutes left in the half when centre Clay George ran a great line in from right to left to score just to the right of the posts. Schneider’s conversion hit the left upright before going over.
The break did nothing to halt their momentum and Kirwan went on a run, scoring four tries in a row - thanks to Jeremiah Nanai, Jesse Yallop, a second to George and one to Schneider.
The halfback converted his own try to put the Bears out to a 32-6 lead.
Most of the points came after the side able to tear through the middle of the field and then shift the ball out after a frustrated Marsden gave up too many penalties.
When Marsden finally got the ball back though, then made sure they used it – and with the help of two back-to-back penalties, they were able to mount pressure which resulted in points when a kick from Tyrone Sa’u was regathered by lock Caleb Evans who ran in to score.
Tu’ua converted the try for a 32-12 score line, but the comeback was short lived as Kirwan were able to run in once more with Tyreece Woods producing a dramatic dive behind the posts to emphasis the dominance of his side in the contest.
With the conversion, they Bears were in the lead 38-12.
However, Marsden were able to finish the game on a high and run in the final two tries of the match with backrower TC Robati crossing twice in as many minutes; the first coming from a clever Tu'ua kick; with the next was a full team effort that started with a massive break down the left-hand side of the field by centre Tony Francis who was looking to make amends for some earlier ill-discipline.
With the state final won, the attention of the Bears will turn to their next game, a match against the NSW state winner.
Wilson said he and the side would take time to reflect on their achievement, but would soon reset their focus to the National title game next Wednesday against Westfield Sports High who defeated Patrician Brothers in the NSW final.
“I think the key is to celebrate this one first and make sure they are really proud of what they have done today, they have done something pretty amazing,” Wilson said.
“We don’t have a great deal of time, so it will be back to business in the next couple days and on to the next task.”
A showing of the Queensland state final game will be broadcast on delay on FOX Sports at a time yet to be confirmed. More details at the NRL Schoolboys Cup Facebook page.
Kirwan SHS 38 (Clay George 2, Tyrone Gunn-James, Jeremiah Nanai, Jesse Yallop, Brad Schneider, Tyreece Woods tries; Brad Schneider 5 goals) def Marsden SHS 22 (TC Robati 2, Ezra Teuila, Caleb Evans tries; Konrad Tu’ua 3 goals) at Langlands Park on Wednesday, September 11.
Halftime: Kirwan 12 - Marsden 6
Player of the Match: Abai Chatfield (Kirwan)