Alby Talipeau magic secures Goodna a major semi
VETERAN Goodna half Alby Talipeau unfurled a stunning late play to secure his side a major semi-final berth but not before Norths Tigers gave the Eagles an almighty scare.
A draw would have been a fair result. But with minutes remaining and the scores locked up at 30-all, Talipeau lobbed a deft last tackle kick into the air and prop Zac Lemberg caught the ball at pace to score under the sticks and secure a 36-30 win.
Injured Norths five-eighth and captain Josh Roberts watched from the sideline with a broken leg as his replacement Lewis Smith stood up to be counted.
Smith took the line on bravely in attack and was belted for his trouble. But the youngster kept getting up and taking it to Goodna until he left the field late with a leg injury.
Smith unfurled some deft kicks and complemented the wily Steve West nicely. Both sets of forwards gave it to each other and it was the Tigers that dominated the first half.
The Eagles pack played more direct in the second stanza but Norths led 30-18 after 56 minutes and looked set for a stunning upset. In the end it was Goodna's power game and Talipeau's three try assists, all via kicks, which proved the difference.
West was extraordinary for Norths.
He set up a try for fullback Logan McDonald in the first half after he chipped and chased, regathered and tipped the ball on. An inside pass by West for Jacob Stephan set up another in the first stanza before he dummied and went himself in the second half to score.
The good work West did was on the back of a willing pack with the rugged Chris Scanlan defiant as usual.
Trailing by 12 in the second stanza, Goodna's forwards rallied with Amanaia Tanielu rampaging like a runaway rhino to barge 30 metres to score.
The giant Taeao Kepu charged over under the sticks to make it 30-all before Talipeau came up with the match winner.
Goodna scored in the first half after a towering Talipeau bomb was spilled by Norths and Morris Ekeroma picked up the scraps.
Ramon Filipine was another to benefit when Talipeau, who could have scored himself, grubbered to set up a try just after half-time.
Talipeau's control with the boot at crucial times proved telling as he explained what he was thinking with the match winning play.
"Norths rushed up on me a little bit so I thought it was a 50/50 call to put in the little kick, and luckily Zac was there,” Talipeau said.
"Zac is experienced and was in the right place at the right time.
"Norths were really desperate to secure second spot and they played really well in the first half.
"Our coach Laurie (Campbell) told us we were in a real grind at half-time. Our fitness held up and we held the ball more in the second half. It was good that we were able to come back in what was a real tough game before the semis.”
Norths coach Anthony O'Brien said Smith should be available for the clash with Fassifern on Sunday.
"He copped a few late hits and was a bit shaken up but he should be right for next week.
"He showed he is up to this standard,” O'Brien said.
The coach was proud of his men in a titanic struggle, and a game Norths could have put away
"At 30-18 we probably should have controlled the game a bit more,” O'Brien said.
"If you give Goodna the ball in good positions they will burn you and they got back into the game and full credit to them.
"Westy had another great game and that is want from your leaders. Chris Scanlan was good out there as well. We have just got to remain fit and strong and I am sure we can give this competition a good shake.”