WHAT a game to finish the Ipswich A Grade rugby league competition in 2022.
The season had seen the Swifts outfit as an unstoppable force, but Brothers had fired a warning shot across their bow beating them in a tight major semifinal.
Brothers’ half, Robbie Kennedy, epitomised what the game meant when he took to the field despite a torn quad, he suffered just two weeks ago.
Kennedy’s commitment was matched by his fellow teammates and after a tenacious 80 minutes of football the trophy was one again back at the brothers’ clubhouse.
The 24-20 victory was only sealed in the final minutes of the match when Brothers Prop and Jim Foreman Medallist Matt Bell crashed over.
Jubilant scenes erupted on the field as well as on Brothers Hill as they had timed their run to perfection.
Victorious winning coach Wayne Barnett was full of praise for his team saying, “the boys followed the game plan to the letter and got the desired result”.
Brothers started the game strong racing out to a 12 point lead through tries to Matt Bell and a charging Albert Tuua.
This was starting to have a Deja vu effect with Brothers having a mountain of possession and dominating in the middle just as they did in the semi-final.
Swifts got a lift in the 38th minute when Nemi Velakapa scored a spectacular try in the corner narrowing the lead to six points at the break.
Coach Wayne Finch after the game summoned up his team’s first half performance as terrible with his team only completing four out of the 13 sets they had with the ball.
“That completion rate won’t win you any games especially a grand final,” Finch said.
The second half was only four minutes old when Brothers were crippled when 5/8 Taj Hinton hobbled off injured and a complete reshuffle needed to take place. Swifts then turned it up while this was happening when Nemani Velakapa crossed for his second try of the day bringing the scores back level.
Brothers were next to score when Harry Douglas finishing off a try that started in their own half to reclaim the lead once again.
This try only seemed to fire up the Bluebirds and they were the next to cross with Vatuinaruku followed up by a brilliant Okot try from a Hemopo grubber into the in goal area. Swifts had hit the lead 20-18 for the first time in the game and there were just minutes left.
The Bluebirds were starting to flex their muscles but a serious injury to Swift’s Luke O’Doherty which required an ambulance halted play for about 20 minutes.
The break may have favoured Brothers as they had no interchanges available for the remainder of the game.
The turning point in the game came in the 72nd minute when Brothers Hooker Thomas Wright stole the ball from the Swifts carrier giving them great field position to mount a final charge.
Brothers Prop Matt Bell would barge his way over for try number two and the Bretheren would once again have the lead by 24 – 20.
Both teams would score four tries but the accurate goal kicking from Brothers would win the day for them.
Coach Barnett having his first season in the RLI was full of praise for his entire team saying we knew we had the team to win this competition, but it was going to take us a while to gel as a lot of the boys were new to the team.
In the Swifts shed it was a dejected coach Finch who said they just weren’t good enough on the day, but he still had plenty of praise for his side for a great year.