Storky's Footy Talk - Grand Final Wrap
GRAHAM "STORKY" CAMPBELL
What a great two games of football for the Grand Final in the Central Highlands Rugby League.
It was a great finish to the year. Who would have predicted the game and results?
I’m sure supporters from the Clermont Bears Ladies and Middlemount would have wished for the result to go the other way, but all four teams dug deep and delivered their best footy on the night. Everyone should be proud of their achievements. It certainly wasn’t what I thought would happen.
The Ladies Grand Final was entertaining and I believe both teams lifted their standard of footy to a new level. Some of the big tackles and big hits were impressive. Both teams came out revved up and both teams were working hard to get on top.
Clermont five-eighth, Tegan Rolfe, was moving her team from side to side in attack with raids down the sideline. Elle Waters was close to scoring and was tackled over the sideline in the early stages of the game.
Front rower Stacey Kirkman was inspirable as she marched the ball forward making plenty of ground. She continued this form all game for the Tigers. It was a shame she injured her ankle in the early stages of the second half and couldn’t finish the game.
Tigers coach Gee Martin made the right move and moved Casey Watkins back into the centres where she has more room to move. The roll of the dice paid off as she was the first to score, running down the sideline after four minutes.
The Tigers led 4-nil in the first five minutes of the game.
There were mistakes on both sides with plenty of dropped ball but the first ten minutes of the game seemed to favour the Bears and they were next on the scoreboard.
Tegan Rolfe kicked the ball and regathered to go over for the Bears’ first try to level the scores at 4-all.
We were waiting for the Bears to break through but the Tigers’ defence was outstanding, led by Maria Rawiri and Miesha Huet running and tackling everything in their way.
Kelsie Parter at fullback was involved in many plays and returning the football from downtown kicks.
Next in the game, the Tigers had a backline movement set up and nearly scored but Parter had other ideas.
From the play the ball, she dived over from dummy half to put the Tigers in front 8-nil.
Minutes later, Stacey Kirkman came back on the field for the Tigers and barged over from ten metres out to extend the lead to ten points.
At half time, the Tigers led 14-4.
Both sides were trying hard and defence on both sides had work overtime.
Carly Bell was running the ball up and making ground but she was not getting the empty spaces to sprint away.
All was not lost for the defending premiers as Mackenzie Beames pulled off a great tackle in goal for Tigers to restart play from a dropout. This sparked a resurgence by the Bears.
In the second half, Rolfe passed to Bell and broke through two tacklers to score and reduce the deficit to just a converted try the difference.
Ngaire Linde was in everything again for the Tigers. She has been an outstanding find for the Tigers and I hope she continues her form next season.
Candice McKie and Ainslee Lawrence were taking the ball up for the Bears and getting them a few more metres.
Nioaka Ross and Cloe Ramsay were both solid for the Tigers off the bench. Miranda Bartley also came off the bench and had a good game running and tackling but it was Kiri Samson who made her return from injury in style.
Her experience running from dummy half, engaging the markers and her general go forward saw her barge over for the Tigers to give them a 18-8 lead with ten minutes to go.
Could the Tigers hold on and win their second premiership?
Tegan Rolfe struggled with cramps all game but that didn’t stop her., didn’t let her worry her.
With five minutes to go, she kicked the ball through to centre Rachael Simpson for her to regather and score a try to keep the Bears in the ball game.
In the last few minutes, it was edge of your seat stuff with the Tigers ahead 18-12.
There was six minutes of play left and the game was still in balance. Clermont continued to attack the Tigers line but to the Tigers’ credit, they kept them out.
With twenty seconds left, the Tigers had the ball and most thought that was the ball game but a silly mistake saw the Bears regather the ball from a knock on.
Sadly, it was too little, too late for the Bears as the Tigers rushed up on the Bears in the two plays they had left and couldn’t get full use of the footy.
At full time, the Emerald Tigers Ladies won their second Ladies premiership defeating the Clermont Bears Ladies 18-12.
My best player was Miesha Huet due to her involvement in the game. She won the Player of the Final trophy so well done to her.
Stacey Kirkman was also outstanding in the first half but sadly injury stopped her from continuing on in the second half.
EMERALD TIGERS LADIES 18 (Casey Watkins, Kelsie Parter, Kiri Samson, Stacey Kirkman tries; Maria Rawiri 1 goal) defeated CLERMONT BEARS LADIES 12 (Tegan Rolfe, Carly Bell, Rachael Simpson tries)
The Men’s game was also a great game of footy with the lead changing hands after every try. I thought Middlemount looked the goods at 14-6 and had the game in the bag but the Tigers came back and had the crowd behind them every step of the way.
It took fifteen minutes for the tries to start as both the Panthers and Tigers tried to take control.
Both sides were there to win and only the better side would at the end.
Sam Creedon scored first for the Panthers playing in the centres. He had the opportunity to pass it to his winger outside him, Troy Rogers, but chose to run it up the guts, dodging and weaving the Tigers defence to score the first points of the game.
Panthers captain Joel Duffy was next to score, rewarding him for his hard work in the middle.
Mitch Wyatte converted for the Panthers to give them an early 10-nil lead after 23 minutes.
Could the Panthers keep going? They were winning the physical battle in the first half.
The Tigers broke the drought close to halftime through Jason King.
King, who had been challenged by the high ball in the Semi Final vs Bluff, was back to his best taking the high ball with ease and ran away and score.
At halftime, the Panthers led 10-6. It would have been interesting to listen to both the coaches’ halftime message to the teams. Both teams had a shot at taking home the premiership trophy.
The game was getting exciting as both sides rallied and front rowers Dywayne Rigby and Darcy Darby battled it up the middle for the Tigers, as did Joe Taotofi and Brendan Hoskin for the Panthers.
The game was all about the grind of the forward packs.
Panthers’ Josh Rovelli was working himself into the ground and weeks of 80 minutes of football was working him down.
Ray Ebsworth took a heavy knock in the second half and came back on to play a very important part in the game.
Mitch Wyatte was carrying a groin injury but that didn’t stop him in his tracks.
He threw the iconic “car salesman” like dummy that he famous for and sprinted a good twenty metres to score a try for the Panthers to lead 14-6. T
he Tigers fullback Jason King came alive again and bagged his second for the Tigers to hit back with the difference now only two points…Panthers 14, Tigers 12.
The Tigers and the Panthers were at each other and the score was close.
The halves for the Tigers in Gavin Power and Darcy Hardness were in everything.
Matt Langby was involved in the tries scored and worked well at dummy half. His dummyhalf kicking game was second to none. He stood up when the Tigers needed something to happen.
Kyle Mattingley plays the style of game the Tigers play which is get in and have a dig. He did this all year and knew what it felt like to have the premiership medal around your neck.
For the Panthers, Will Davidson and Alex Sainsbury tried all game and worked the ball well.
The Tigers edged out the Panthers with another two tries through two excellent kicks out of dummy half by Matt Langby. I don’t think Langby ever anticipated a try, let alone, two tries, would be scored from his fifth-tackle options.
Juston Cavanagh barged over to put the Tigers in front under the sticks and then moments later, the Tigers put the game beyond doubt with a minute to go.
Isaiah Huet was the magic man for the Tigers working the short side and diving on a Langby kick to score his 16th try of the season.
At full time, the Tigers took home the double defeating the Middlemount Panthers 22-14.
What a great grand final day in the Central Highlands and the Tigers clubs as a whole, both Juniors and Seniors should be very proud of their achievements.
They are the 2016 Premiers in the Under 15’s, Under 17’s, Ladies and Men’s divisions.
I must also give full credit to the Tigers President Jay Edwards and I don’t think there is a better bloke in footy to deserve this. He came into the Tigers in 2003 winning the double at home (Reserve Grade/A-Grade) and he’ll leave the Tigers in 2016 winning the double at home (Ladies/A-Grade).
Jay puts in a lot of time and effort into the Tigers and weeks of work was put into making it a very successful Grand Final. The club has a good supporter base as you saw by the sea of green on the day.
Middlemount also brought over the whole town which was good to see. It’s great to see that the Grand Final was such a talking point around the Highlands this week and I’m looking forward to seeing the Panthers back on the prowl next season.
My man of the match was Meirana Parata and he was also awarded the Player of the Final.
Enjoy the spoils Emerald Tigers and well done on a terrific 2016 season.
EMERALD TIGERS 22 (Jason King 2, Juston Cavanagh, Isaiah Huet tries; Isaiah Huet 1, Ray Ebsworth 2 goals) defeated MIDDLEMOUNT PANTHERS 14 (Sam Creedon, Joel Duffy, Mitch Wyatte tries; Mitch Wyatte 1 goal)
I’d just like to say a massive thanks to all of the players, coaches, match officials, volunteers and supporters on being part of the 2016 season.
It’s a pleasure to write these articles week-in, week-out and I must thank you for taking the time to read them and enjoy reading up on the latest in local footy.
As I sign off on the 2016 season, I wish you well throughout the offseason and look forward to seeing you back ready for the 2017 season!
Have a great off season!