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Colts claim first Laurie Daley Cup Premiership

As Monaro Colts coach Brendan Bradley said, what a difference a year makes.

It was 12 months ago the Colts felt the disappointment of losing a SLE Laurie Daley Cup Grand Final but they more than made up for it today after claiming their first premiership with a 28-18 win over a gallant Northern Tigers at Cessnock Sportsground.

“What’s the old saying – you’ve got to lose one to win one,” Bradley said.

“We probably came a bit better prepared this year to be honest. I think we probably surprised ourselves last year and didn’t realise how big a deal it was.

“To get so close and to look back on it and go, ‘Geez, it was probably one that got away.’”

The Colts looked to be on top at various stages throughout the match – they led 22-8 early in the second half – but just as they have done all season the Tigers refused to go away and they rallied to close the margin to 22-18.

In the end, it was hooker Mitchell Brophy who sealed the result after scoring his second try of the afternoon with less than five minutes on the clock.

Brophy had a strong game after grabbing two tries and having a hand in another, captain Joey Elton also bagged a double, while halfback Jonah Anderson was named the John ‘Choc’ Anderson Player of the Match after having his fingerprints all over the victory.

Player of the Match: Colts halfback Jonah Anderson. Photo: Bryden Sharp
Player of the Match: Colts halfback Jonah Anderson. Photo: Bryden Sharp

“This year’s group was a completely new group and to lose Round One and then come back, and the improvement we’ve had over the past five or six weeks, is nothing short of outstanding,” Bradley said.

“To all my staff, there’s a lot of work that goes into it, and I’m really proud of them, it feels a lot different to last year let me tell you.”  

Bradley also paid tribute to the Tigers and said the Colts knew they’d be in for a tough game.

“They’re a great side and we spoke about that all week,” he said.

“They do never go away, they are in every game to the final whistle, so great side, very well coached, tough boys, and we knew we had to play good today to win.

“They don’t hand Grand Finals out. They knew that and we learned that last year.”

Monaro were looking to go one better in the SLE Laurie Daley Cup than last year when they fell just short 26-24 against the Illawarra South Coast Dragons.

They started the match in strong fashion with Brophy and halfback Jonah Anderson combining to punch a hole in the Tigers defence. Brophy then scooted out from dummy half to score underneath the posts, converting his own try for a 6-0 lead.

The Tigers hit back almost immediately when they spread the ball wide for winger Keandre Johnson-Vale to dive out wide and reduce the deficit to 6-4.

Monaro capitalised on good field position to clear out again when Brophy picked up back-rower JJ Pau Mohiva close to the line, who bumped and spun away from the defence to crash over. Brophy landed the conversion to put the Colts in front 12-4.

Brophy was heavily involved again for the next scoring play after throwing a flat pass for centre Harry Hudson who in turn swung around and slipped an offload for back-rower Joey Elton to sprint down the sideline and score in the corner.

Brophy missed the sideline conversion, but the Colts were in charge 16-4.

The Tigers needed something special to keep them in the contest at half-time and captain and No.7 Jordan Hamlin answered the call when he threw a long cut-out pass for winger Oscar Aitken to score in the corner.

Back-rower Dylan Keane was unable to land the tough conversion from out wide, but the Tigers went into the break with hope at 16-8.

The Colts regained the advantage when play resumed with Hamlin outing a grubber kick through for Elton to chase down and grab his second try for the day. Brophy landed the conversion to extend the lead to 22-8.

The Tigers again refused to give up and worked the ball wide again for Johnson-Vale to grab his double for the day. Keane again was unable to land the extras to leave the score at 22-12.

Tigers centre Cooper Meldrum kept the momentum going when he put a grubber kick through which took a bounce off a Colts player and back into his hands to score. Keane had another tough conversion from out wide but nailed it this time to put the Tigers in striking distance at 22-18.

The scene was set for a thrilling finish with 20 minutes still to go on the clock and the Tigers had their chances to close the gap, but the Colts defence held firm.

Brophy then took off from dummy-half, threw a dummy and then accelerated through the gap to crash his way over the line with less than five minutes to go. He converted his own try to give the Colts some breathing space and put them on track to claim the title.

“They’ve done that during the season at stages,’’ Bradley said of the final try.

“They were down 10-0 against Western and they never panicked.

“They know if they get their processes right it will turn around for them.

“I thought they were really good but so were the other side.”

Acknowledgement of Country

New South Wales 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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