By Jamie Anderson at Allianz Stadium
The Entrance Tigers prevailed over Mounties 22-18, in what was one of the most exciting Grand Final’s in recent memory, thanks to a Golden Point try to Allen Mulia Malau.
The former Wyong Roo was dangerous all day long and had played a hand in a couple of Perry LeBrocque’s earlier tries, however it was his match sealing try that will see him go down in club folklore.
It was a tight affair right throughout with no side ever leading by more than a try, and with plenty of feeling on display from both outfits.
Mounties hit the lead early on when a deflected grubber kick close to the Tigers line eventually found its way into the in goal and Kurt Horton found himself in the right place at the right time to score the opener.
But the Tigers responded almost immediately as Alan Munro showed speed and some fast feet to find the try line out on Mounties left hand edge.
With the score now locked at 6-6 the Tigers began to flex their muscle and had the better of field position. They capitalised on this in the 19th minute when Allen Mulia Malau was eyeing off the try line out wide but was quickly shut down. But despite Mounties attempts to wrap up the ball the blockbusting centre, Malau freed up his arms and got away a great ball to an unmarked LeBrocque.
There would be no further points in the first half but late in the piece tempers began to flare and a number of players from both sides decided to mix it up a little bit. Eventually normalcy resumed but not before referee Adam Cassidy had sat down two players from each side for ten minutes. So Horton and Dargan from Mounties were joined by Munro and Jowett from the Tigers and that was that.
The second half got underway with eleven playing eleven and as a result there was more space on the park for the likes of Joey Bond and he made the most of it when he crossed in the 42nd minute, and Mounties now lead it 12-10.
In a match that had already had a little bit of everything, perhaps the strangest moment of the game came in the 51st minute when it appeared as though LeBrocque had dotted down for his second however the touch judge raised his flag much to the bemusement of the Tigers players. As both sides prepared to pack the ensuing scrum, the replay flashed up on the big screen in the stadium and the vision appeared to show a fair try. So the referee called time off, jogged back over to the corner, had a chat with his touch judge and referred the decision upstairs to the video referee who in turn confirmed what most in the stadium had already known and awarded the try.
The Tigers extended their lead in the 60th minute and it was that man again in LeBrocque who touched down off the back of a nice kick from Adam McInnes for his third of the day.
But the twists and turns of this match continued in the 65th minute when Gus Aiga crossed out wide for Mounties and with Horton’s sideline conversion, the scores were locked up at 18 all.
The final 15 minutes of regulation time saw both sides come close to breaking the deadlock with a series of field goal attempts missed and charged down, with Horton in the final minute going the closest with his strike from some 40 metres out just missing to the left.
So off to ‘Golden Point’ we went and it was fitting that a crazy play should ultimately decide what was indeed a crazy game.
The Tigers marched their way down the park and on the 5th tackle the ball went out the back to Fitzpatrick who struck a field goal attempt from 30 metres out however it was charged down, but the ball ballooned up in the air and fell into the arms of Mulia Malau who pinned the ears back, took on the line, broke a tackle and then charged towards the corner to score an amazing match winner.
It was the Tigers first Premiership since their 2007 title when the competition was known as the Jim Beam Cup while for Mounties, it was once again a case of so close yet so far.
Scott Jones was named man of the match for the Tigers while both LeBrocque and Malau were also dangerous in attack all day long.
The Entrance Tigers 22 (P LeBrocque 3, A Mulia Malau, A Munro tries; D O’Neil goal) def. Mounties 18 (K Horton, G Aiga, J Bond tries; K Horton 2, B Newton goals)