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Bright future ahead as St Brendan's defend title

St Brendan's College have gone back-to-back in the Rockhampton Schoolboys Open A competition, defeating Rockhampton Grammar School 26-10 at Browne Park on Friday night.

Despite it being an abridged competition that was also missing a majority of first XIII stars on Aaron Payne Cup duty after the COVID-19 hiatus, both teams - full of exuberant youth - were ready and raring to face off again after having to split the points in the opening round of the regular season.

The green and gold led from start to finish, but the defending premiers were challenged by Grammar for a majority of the game and were only ahead 10-4 at the break.

The game picked up its intensity in the second half as both teams fought hard and held each other out for more than 20 minutes in a gripping arm wrestle to lift the Stephen Parle Shield.

It wasn't until the 53rd minute that winger Ian Akiba broke through Rockhampton Grammar School's defence and ran 30 metres down the eastern touchline to cross and score to put St Brendan's College further in front.

The high flyer was in again only moments later, repeating the exact same set play to all but ice victory and keep the silverware in Yeppoon for a further 12 months.

St Brendan's College fullback Matt Hill. Photo: Cameron Stallard/QRL
St Brendan's College fullback Matt Hill. Photo: Cameron Stallard/QRL

Co-captain Blake Anders was proud of his team's win, praising their effort in defence.

"It was a good win tonight," Anders said. "We dug deep and hooked in... even when we had boys going down everywhere, we were able to hold our own and hold them out.

"It was a really gutsy effort from the boys that got us home.

"It's also a really important win for us because we played well as a team and it's going to carry us forward in the future, as we've now got the combinations ready for next year."

Anders said the training sessions with their Aaron Payne Cup team were a key aspect to their success.

"We train and go to the gym together and do opposed sessions together and it really helps us working in for next year," Anders said.

"Three of us [got to play] Aaron Payne Cup this year which was really good.

"Playing at that higher level has really helped us when coming back to this level and we've taken what we learned at the top down to help the other boys out."

Rockhampton Grammar School coach Rod Peckett couldn't fault his side's effort and said they would look ahead to next season.

"We tried hard and our effort was good, but we just didn't execute," Peckett said.

"Our decision makers weren't real good tonight, but the effort was there.

"It wasn't the greatest game of football you would've seen in your life, but that's the year we've had.

"We knew they'd be hot tonight.

"They're a really young side and have played a lot of footy together and we thought they'd start throwing the footy around, which they did, and they played pretty good football.

"But like them, we've also got a really young side.

Rockhampton Grammar School with the ball. Photo: Cameron Stallard/QRL
Rockhampton Grammar School with the ball. Photo: Cameron Stallard/QRL

"We only had five who are in Year 12, so we are also looking at building for next year.

"We are just hoping that we don't have heavy COVID-19 restrictions so we can have a full year of footy next year."

In the earlier matches, a four-try bonanza by Mount Morgan State High School centre Lachlan Mackay helped guide his side to a 28-18 win over Yeppoon State High School in the Open C grand final.

In the Open B decider, a crazy final minute saw The Cathedral College have one more roll at the dice against North Rockhampton State High School, but the Hawks were able to hold on to win 12-8.

All eyes will now be on The Cathedral College's Aaron Payne Cup team as they travel to Mackay to take on Ignatius Park in the semi finals on Wednesday.

St Brendan's College 26 (Ian Akiba 2, Marley Wosomo, Blake Anders, Mannix Hunt tries; Blake Anders 3 goals) defeated Rockhampton Grammar School 10 (Bronson Ryan, Griffin Keating tries; Luke Callanan goal)