A grand final hat-trick to Patrice Chambers helped Pine Central Holy Spirit Hornets withstand a determined second half fightback from Runaway Bay Seagulls to cap a dominant season and claim this year’s Dial Before You Dig SEQW Premiership title with a 26-14 win.
With Pine Central leading 14-0 at half-time thanks to some eye-catching tries that cleverly capitalised on the strong wing and the unpredictable bounce of the ball, the Seagulls burst out of the blocks in the second half to stun the Hornets to lock the scores up at 14-14 mid-way through the half.
A change in momentum came after Pine Central gained a seven-tackle set, allowing them to use the ball to work their way out of trouble and up onto the Runaway Bay goal line; with Chambers showing her skills as a dummy half to feign one way and go another to jump over and score.
Once the Hornets had the lead back, they didn’t let it go, but that it didn’t stop Runaway Bay from trying to score an upset.
Experienced captain / coach Rona Peters was in fine form for the Seagulls, providing her own highlights reel in defence, while also shouldering a heavy playmaking workload.
However, the day and the game belonged to the Hornets who were the team to beat all competition, losing just the one game all season.
Halfback and captain Ngahuia Blair said she was proud of the way her players withstood the challenge from the Seagulls to claim the title.
“It feels amazing, we have had a big battle with them all year, all our games have gotten closer and closer, it was good to come out on top today,” Blair said.
“We let them in a little bit towards the start of the second half, and that made us panic a little bit, but we got there in the end.
“They made us panic a little bit, they made us get on our back feet, so we had to regather, get composure again.
“I told the girls at half-time that we needed to complete our sets; the wind out there made it really hard for us, so completion and our communication out there got us through to the win.”
Blair, who moved up from Melbourne late last year to test her rugby league skills and hoped to push for further honours in the future, said the title was a great reward for a lot of hard work put in by her players.
“We started off really strong or pre-season went really, really well; and then COVID hit, and we found it hard to get back in our groove again, to start again,” Blair said.
“But once we got back in the groove, we found our positions for our right girls and we just worked on it and we just made it work with whatever we had.
“I am so proud, this is my first year at the club and just to lead the girls; we have got a great bunch of ladies; some experienced, some inexperienced, young girls, old girls, so the lead them to the win today feels amazing.”
For Chambers, who has also gained experience playing rugby league in Queensland Murri Carnivals, it was an “awesome” feeling to finish on a high after a tough season.
“I never thought we’d get to play a grand final; you did not know what would happen this year, it was just awesome to play footy,” Chambers said.
“I was just happy to play footy this year, I didn’t know we would get this far.
“They have tested us all year, every time we have played them (Runaway Bay), hats off to them, they have had a great side; I think we just tried to match that and try to get over the line.”
On her hat-trick and her player of the match performance; Chambers was quite to praise her forwards, with the likes Ana Fotu, Kia Henry-Monaei and try scorer Jessica Sommerville putting in some great work.
“That is unbelievable [to score a hat-trick], I owe it all to my forwards for pushing up and drawing the defenders in,” Chambers said.
“I just kind of dummied and went myself most of the time, so my hats off to them, so I would not have been able to do that without my forwards.”
As for the side’s overall success this season in what has been a difficult year; Chambers hailed the strong team spirit displayed by all the players at the club.
“The support of the girls, we have got a really good positive group,” Chambers said.
“We are always keeping each other accountable, we are always asking each other if we want to do extras or anything, so if you have got that good support system around you, you want to work hard for them.”
Earlier in the day, Aspley Devils claimed the SEQW Orange tile with a 30-0 win over Easts Mt Gravatt Eagles; while the SEQW Green title was taken out by Ormeau Shearers following their 32-0 victory over North Ipswich Tigers.
Watch: Pine Central Hornets v Runaway Bay Seagulls
Pine Central Hornets 26 (Patrice Chambers 3, Keysha Roberts, Jessica Somerville tries; Naomi Henry 2, Jasmine Stephens goal) defeated Runaway Bay Seagulls 14 (Jadene Kini, Charvon Ratu, Rona Peters tries; Keri-Jade Robertson goal)