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Townsville Blackhawks claim back-to-back Hastings Deering Colts titles

The Townsville Blackhawks have created Hastings Deering Colts history, going down as the first back-to-back premiers and the last winners of the competition.

In an exhilarating grand final showdown at Kayo Stadium on Sunday, the 2022 premiers dominated from start to finish to post a 40-0 upset victory over the Brisbane Tigers.

After finishing the regular season in third - and losing a week one final to the Tigers - the Blackhawks upped the ante on Sunday to stun Brisbane and claim back-to-back titles.

With it also being the last year of the Hastings Deering Colts competition, the Blackhawks will proudly go down in history as the final champions.

Coach Roy Baira was left speechless after the victory but immensely proud of the all-round performance from his side.

The 2023 Hastings Deering Colts champions, Townsville. Photo: Zain Mohammed/QRL
The 2023 Hastings Deering Colts champions, Townsville. Photo: Zain Mohammed/QRL

"I'm a bit stunned, actually," Baira said.

"That was a fairy tale finish for our boys. They've had a really long season, injuries to a few of our main players throughout the year, local boys who have stepped up for us... today was a complete performance.

"That performance was what we were pushing towards and it came today. I'm really proud of them.

"The Tigers are a champion side too. Them and Tweed all year have been up top and we struggled at the start but we worked our way back into that top four.

"Today was just our day. Our boys just put it on them and they were pressured under that. Everything went well for us. Our boys really wanted it and they showed it today."

Baira said the team were led by inspirational skipper Ragarive Wavik, who picked up the player of the match accolades, with his highlights including his first half try and second half 40/20.

He was also full of praise for his young pack.

One of the main messages this week for Townsville was to remember who they were representing on the big stage and Baira said they did just this on Sunday.

"It means everything to the north," he said.

"I've had messages all week, even from the (Northern) Pride fellas and even (Kristian) Woolfy down here who are supporting us. We're happy to do it for up there.

"Sometimes up there we're forgotten a little bit but when we're playing for each other and our region, it means a hell of a lot to us." 

The Blackhawks set the standard early against the Tigers, racing out of the blocks as winger Cathane Hill crossed in the corner in the 4th minute, off the back of fast hands from Wavik and centre Dudley Dotoi.

Five minutes later and the Blackhawks were in again, this time off a breakaway Jamal Shibasaki, who earlier this week claimed the Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup player of the year.

From here, Townsville put on an attacking masterclass, posting another two tries before halftime - one off individual brilliance from Wavik and another from second rower Wil Sullivan.

Player of the match, Ragarive Wavik. Photo: Zain Mohammed/QRL
Player of the match, Ragarive Wavik. Photo: Zain Mohammed/QRL

Wavik and Dotoi continually terrorised down Townsville's right hand side

The Blackhawks went into the break up 22-0 but did not take their foot off the accelerator in the second stanza, with prop Jeremiah Matautia barging through in the 49th minute.

The points continued to flow with Shibasaki scoring his second and winger Jesse Yallop putting on the finishing touches in the 75th minute to lock up a 40-0 victory.

While their attack was a cut above, their defence was extremely impressive and the Blackhawks will be proud to have finished without leaking a single point to a Tigers team that have dominated all season. 

Tigers coach Mark Gliddon said his team were simply outplayed on Sunday but he was still proud of their efforts throughout 2023.

"They showed up in a big way," Gliddon said of the Blackhawks.

"They were really good. I can't take any credit away from them. We didn't have our best game. They ran hard, they tackled hard. They were just too good.

"They ended up with 60 per cent of the footy with a completion rate of around 90 per cent, which is bloody hard to defend against.

"I'll give my boys a wrap. They got here - it's not an easy thing to get to. I'm proud and pleased for them.

"Not everyone gets to go to the big dance and we did."

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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