Mossman secure back-to-back A Grade premierships

Mossman-Port Douglas A grade side claimed back-to-back premierships and a place in the history books after a thrilling 30-24 victory over Innisfail in the Cairns District grand final on Saturday at Barlow Park.

After winning the title last year and in 1998, this is the first time consecutive A Grade titles have been won since the club joined the competition in 1955.

This was also the first time Mossman fielded two sides in grand final day and secured two premiership titles.

In a stroke of genius, mastermind coach Brian Murgha, in his maiden year shifted Stanley Anau from winger to hooker late in both halves.

This move paid huge dividends as Anau's speed created mayhem for Innisfail's defence.

Anau went on to bag four tries and also set up one which saw him named player of the final.

A crucial positional change saw Sharks winger Stanley Anau streak away to score one of four tries in the decider against Innisfail which earned him Player of the Final. Photo: Maria Girgenti
A crucial positional change saw Sharks winger Stanley Anau streak away to score one of four tries in the decider against Innisfail which earned him Player of the Final. Photo: Maria Girgenti

Sharks fans were left shell-shocked when Innisfail skipped out to early 12-0 lead with tries to Fred Koraba and winger Den Waireg-Ingui.

Fifteen minutes into the game, Mossman struck back when Anau crossed for his first four pointer. Minutes later, try-scoring sensation Matthew Gibuma added to the tally and the extras were slotted by Mareko Daniel.

It wasn't until nine minutes before half time when Sharks centre Gabriel Bon offloaded to Anau to give the winger his second try of the match.

A second try to Koraba right on half time saw Innisfail go into the sheds with a slim two point lead.

Both teams continued to slog it out in the second half before Anau picked up his third try to put the Sharks in front.

The Sharks circled again when Anau set up winger Lennox Schonenberger and then provided scintillating support to go in for his fourth try. The extras added by Daniel Mooka put them out to a 30-18 with 20 minutes left in the final.

Innisfail were looking down the barrel of defeat and their strong defence saw an error by Mossman 20 metres out of their own try line.

Despite numerous challenges by Innisfail to break their defensive line, the Sharks were able to repel them.

A desperate kick chase by Innisfail's Waireg-Ingui forced a goal line drop out with 15 minutes left on the clock.

This proved fortuitous for Innisfail as scrambled attempts by four Sharks players couldn't stop the barnstorming run of Lata Fakalelu as he barged his way over the line.

When Morton added the extras, Innisfail trailed by a converted try with only 10 minutes left to play.

With everything to lose, Innisfail threw everything at the Sharks right until the death, but even a last ditch downfield kick after the siren couldn't stop the Sharks from powering home to secure their historic grand final victory.

Mossman-Port Douglas A grade co-captain Joel Marama proudly lifted the shield and trophy after his side defeated Innisfail and secured consecutive premierships. Photo: Maria Girgenti
Mossman-Port Douglas A grade co-captain Joel Marama proudly lifted the shield and trophy after his side defeated Innisfail and secured consecutive premierships. Photo: Maria Girgenti

Sharks coach Murgha said to win two titles in a row was a fantastic achievement for the small town of Mossman and was a goal they set themselves when the season started.

Murgha gave full credit to the team for putting in the hard yards every week and said he was proud of all players from 1-17 as it was real team effort.

He also lauded praised on his seniors Noel Underwood, Joel Marama, Matthew Bon, and the younger boys Aggie Gibuma and Schonenberger.

"I knew Stanley Anau had the ability to break the game open, so by putting him in the middle against the big Innisfail side he would cause havoc," Murgha said.

This deliberate tactic was something the coach said he kept up his sleeve and implemented for a big game like the decider.

The last team to claim consecutive premierships were the Kangaroos back in 2013-2014. 

Murgha said it had been a great year, especially after a lot of people wrote them off after they lost their first three games.

"So then, I just sat the boys down and asked them to do some soul searching which they most certainly did as we went on to lose only one more game in the season and go all the way to another title," Murgha said. 

Innisfail coach Leon Hallie said they were beaten for pace around the ruck.

"We knew Mossman are a good attacking side so had to limit their attacking opportunities, but at the end we probably gave them a few too many chances," Hallie said. 

Hallie said he was proud of his side's efforts as they gave their all and hung on right to the end.

It was a double for Mossman-Port Douglas as they also secured the Reserve grade title with a 32-26 victory over Cairns Brothers.

Coleridge Dabah scored a double and received the player of the final award.

A Grade

Mossman-Port Douglas 30 (tries: Stanley Anau 4, Matthew Gibuma 1, Lennox Schonenberger 1, Goals: Mareko Daniel 2, Daniel Mooka 1) defeated Innisfail Leprechauns 24 (tries: Fred Koraba 2, Den Waireg-Ingui 1, Taulata Fakalelu 1, Goals: Michael Morton 4).

Reserve Grade

Mossman-Port Douglas 32 (tries: Trazane Cobb 2, Coleridge Dabah 2, Ezekiel Peter 1, Bert Whap 1, Goals: Coleridge Dabah 3, Trazane Cobb 1) defeated Cairns Brothers 26 (tries: Robert Ketchell 2, Jivanta Banu 1, Troy Nowlan 1, Peter Lui 1; Goals: Elliott Gibuma 2)

Player of the final: Coleridge Dabah (Mossman-Port Douglas)

Mossman-Port Douglas Sharks had double success when they defeated Cairns Brothers and claimed the Reserve Grade title, the first time in the club's history. Photo: Maria Girgenti
Mossman-Port Douglas Sharks had double success when they defeated Cairns Brothers and claimed the Reserve Grade title, the first time in the club's history. Photo: Maria Girgenti

Edmonton Storm also created history in a thriller with a 22-20 win over Cairns Brothers to take out the Under 18 premiership, the first time in 15 years since the club joined the competition.

Under 18

Edmonton 22 (tries: Ethan Ryan 1, Ransheed Wallis 1, Sterling Amber 1, Tyrell Anton 1, Aiden Kawiri 1, Goals: Sterling Amber 1) defeated Cairns Brothers 20 (tries: Dantoray Lui 1, Tom Spark 1, Matti Moyle 1, Henry Williams 1, Goals: Dantoray Lui 2)

Player of the final: Sterling Amber (Edmonton)

Edmonton Storm also made history after defeating Cairns Brothers in a two point thriller to take out the Under 18 premiership for the first time in the club's 15 year history since joining the Cairns competition. Photo: Maria Girgenti
Edmonton Storm also made history after defeating Cairns Brothers in a two point thriller to take out the Under 18 premiership for the first time in the club's 15 year history since joining the Cairns competition. Photo: Maria Girgenti

Main image: History-makers Mossman-Port Douglas Sharks celebrate after taking out the A grade premiership for the second in a row with a six point win over Innisfail in the decider. Photo: Maria Girgenti