What a game, after three days of intense Rugby League, the undefeated Eastern Suburbs Wombats and the NSW Corrective Services Courgars teams went to battle in the 2020 Grand Final.
Held in the picturesque NSW Coastal town of Port Macquarie, both teams went into the match with high hopes of victory but with a squad tired and sore due to the four prior tough games in the days before.
It would come down to who were mentally tougher, to block out any negative thoughts of fatigue and focus on ‘aiming up’. Sometimes younger players listen to their older experienced leaders to show the way, which did occur during this game.
But prior to the Wombats running out, their young prop forward Jake Clisby gave an inspirational speech that must have given the Wombats that extra mental edge to never give up and hang in there as long as it takes.
Both teams can be congratulated for their gallant efforts as this game from a spectators perspective, was a real ‘Nail-biter’. At half time the game was nil all. Both teams played the game with plenty of vigour and passion.
The Cougars fullback Mahn Darley put the Cougars ahead 2 points to nil early in the second half after potting a penalty goal from 18 metres out and in front of the posts.
Both teams continued to charge into each other, with Jake Clisby, James Gray and Mitch West leading the way for the Wombats, whilst the Cougars through Matt Gladman, Chris Afamasaga, Litasi Mau and smart half-back Trent Guihot matched them.
With five and a half minutes to go, Col Farmilo kicked a penalty goal for the Wombats making it 2 points all. It looked like going into extra time, and the Cougars kept pressing the Wombats tryline, but couldn’t get across. A wayward field goal attempt by Cougar’s Mahn Darley with 17 seconds, meant as the full-time siren rang, it was 2 points all and we were heading into golden point.
Three minutes into the first five minute stanza of golden point, the Cougars had a golden opportunity when a high bomb kicked by Robert Siteine bounced favourably for the Cougar chasers, but classy five-eight John Dale just couldn’t get his hands on the ball and the Wombats lived for another day. Half-time of Golden Point and we were still locked at 2 points all.
In the second half of Golden Point, the battle continued around the ruck and when 2 minutes in the Wombats were given a penalty when five-eight Col Farmilo was tackled late after he sent a soaring kick which landed only 18 metres out from the Cougars goal post. Col’s kick at goal just glanced right of the goal-posts and the crowd who were further onto the edges of their seats were about to fall off them. Wombats hooker Matt Johnson darted out of dummy half on a few occasions, but couldn’t sneak through the tight Cougars defence.
The Cougars continued to pound into the Wombats defence and were ushering their way within 10 metres of the Wombats tryline. With one minute left on the clock, the Cougars looked like they were setting up for a last ditched field-goal attempt as they edged closer to the Wombat’s goal posts. An in field pass by the Cougars on the 9 metre mark saw classy Wombats fullback Adam Micallef swoop on the ball and he was off. Micallef had 90 metres to run and was chased by Litasi Mau and Ezekiel Vaotuua who just couldn’t catch him. Micallef scored the 4 pointer and the Wombat won.
A big thankyou to both the Wombats and Cougars players and officials. A well deserved victory to Wombats Coach Matt Hyde and the Cougars Captain Coach Chris Afamasaga.
The NSW Police Rugby League would also like to thank all teams and officals who participated in the State Championships, and in particular the referees who gave their time to officiate the games.
The NSW Police Rugby League would also like to thank our fantastic sponsors; The Police Bank, Bryden’s Lawyers, CRIMSAFE, BGIS, Group GSA, The Police Association of NSW, NSW Rugby League, DIMEO and Smarth Leasing. Your generous support is greatly appreciated.
We also thank Paul Jobber from Port Macquarie News for some fantastic photographs.