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Tigers hold out Magpies to claim Central West title

The first grand final of the year has been played in Ilfracombe, a town with a population of 300.

The Central West decider was played between defending premiers Blackall Magpies and the newly-combined Longreach / Ilfracombe Tigers.

After the 2019 season, both Longreach and Ilfracombe could see their teams struggling with numbers and with some great work by both clubs, they worked together to combine the two teams and were able to reach the grand final in their first year together.

A huge crowd estimated to be around 1400 gathered with supporter buses coming from both Blackall and Longreach, as well as large numbers coming to the footy after the annual Ilfracombe Race Day which was held earlier in the day.

There was standing room only as all grandstands were full and all other seating areas around the club taken.

The game was one of the best grand finals you will ever see with the score difference never going beyond six points throughout the whole 80 minutes. The quality of the footy both in attack and defence was certainly worthy of a grand final.

Longreach / Ilfracombe were first to score but Blackall fought straight back for an equaliser, this scoring sequence continued throughout the game with the half-time score being 12-12.

There was plenty of support for Longreach / Ilfracombe.
There was plenty of support for Longreach / Ilfracombe.

Throughout the second half, supporters from both teams were entitled to think they were on a winner.

With five minutes to go, the Tigers were four points ahead, only for Blackall to score and convert to give them a two-point lead with three minutes left on the clock from the restart.

A stripped ball gave the Tigers one more opportunity which they took to score the winning try with seconds to go in the game. The final score being 28-24 to the Longreach / Ilfracombe Tigers and obviously, the local supporters went wild.

The spectacle of the game was a credit to both teams and coaching staff as well as the refereeing - there were no penalties needed for any foul play with open, fast footy played.

Many supporters from both teams spoke after the game about the quality of the game and a lot had the same opinion that this was the best grand final ever held in the Outback.

At the presentation prior to the Tigers being awarded the premiership trophy, Winton player Justin Smith was presented with the Central West player of the year honour - a worthy winner.

Central West player of the year Justin Smith with CWRL president Jeremy Barron.
Central West player of the year Justin Smith with CWRL president Jeremy Barron.

Tigers halfback Adam Hughes was also presented with the player of the match award.

Player of the final Alan Hughes with CWRL president Jeremy Barron.
Player of the final Alan Hughes with CWRL president Jeremy Barron.

A big thanks to XXXX for supplying the celebration drinks for both teams after the game.

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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