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Inala survives swooping Magpies

Sunnybank Magpies nearly pulled off the upset of the round in the Intech Open 1 Men’s competition last Saturday, bravely going down 22-20 to joint leaders Souths Inala Warriors at Brandon Park, Acacia Ridge.

With the bitterly cold westerly winds in Brisbane howling through Brisbane, a healthy crowd converged into the ground to brave the elements in what was a pulsating game of rugby league.

Inala’s Andy Launiuvao had the Warriors first on the scoreboard in the 19th minute, finding a gaping hole to evade the Sunnybank defence to race in and score under the posts.

A one-on-one strip six minutes later by winger Dennis Leaupepe finally had the visitors on the board in a return serve startling the Warriors side.

The game was being played at a frantic pace with Sunnybank’s halves pairing of Michael Steel and Shannon Bennett running the show for the Magpies throughout the first half in a stellar performance.

Bennett set up the Magpies' next try kicking out to his winger Leaupepe, who spectacularly caught the ball inches from the sideline to go in for his second try of the afternoon.

Inala stop Sunnybank only metres from the line. Photo: Mike Simpson
Inala stop Sunnybank only metres from the line. Photo: Mike Simpson

However, the Warriors are not joint leaders on the current points table for nothing.

The home side - on the back end of a good set-in attack - strolled in for another try right on the half-time hooter to see both teams locked up at 10-10 at the break.

The second half saw both sides battle it out in a see-sawing match that was played from end-to-end.

With the howling wind playing havoc with kicking, the action was more in attack and some flashy moves were put on by both sides.

The Warriors big men in Alex Selesele and Jason Ioane were punching holes up the middle making some solid ground against the Magpies, however the visitors were hanging tough.

It took some individual brilliance by Sunnybank fullback Luke Morris who stepped and weaved his way through the Inala defence to somehow plant the ball right miraculously on the try-line to regain the lead.

But the game, which ebbed and flowed throughout, saw the Warriors scamper up the sideline to go in yet again, only to trail the Magpies 16-14.

Then as Sunnybank pressed on again, the Magpies found a chink in the Warriors armour with prop Chevez Barbarich crashing his way over to increase the scoreline for the Magpies.

The Warriors though were not done yet.

Fullback Damion Jackson took matters into his own hands in the 59th minute, collecting a superb ball from hooker Kyle Edgar and his flashy stepping was enough to see him slide under the sticks to score a brilliant solo try.

Souths Inala v Sunnybank at Acacia Ridge. Photo: Mike Simpson
Souths Inala v Sunnybank at Acacia Ridge. Photo: Mike Simpson

With a minute left on the clock, the Warriors were on the cusp of being upstaged by the last placed Magpies trailing 22-20.

However, in a 60 second moment of madness, Inala somehow found open space through centre Makoni Niu, who turned the Magpies defence inside out.

The powerful centre then ran the near length of the field to go in for a show-stopping finish that saw the Warriors get out of jail right on full-time, snatching victory from a courageous Magpies outfit.