TRUE GRIT: Brothers' Graham Sepulona surges through a tackle during the Reserve Grade major semi-final at North Ipswich Reserve on Saturday.
TRUE GRIT: Brothers' Graham Sepulona surges through a tackle during the Reserve Grade major semi-final at North Ipswich Reserve on Saturday. Cordell Richardson

Brothers into grand final after slow start

EXPERIENCE wins you finals, and on Saturday it was Brothers' seasoned veteran Malupo Notoa whose guiding hand was there when his side needed it the most.

Despite dominating possession for much of the first half of the Reserve Grade semi-final, Brothers found themselves only two points up heading into the break.

Norths had cracked the line right on halftime, and through Andrew Walker the Tigers hit the lead shortly after the re-start.

"When an old head like Walker comes on, he knows how to get under your skin and come up with the big plays,” Brothers coach Steve O'Connell said from the sheds after the match.

"He's been there and done it. They get a lot of energy from him.”

Thankfully for O'Connell, he had his own wily veteran ready to hit the scoreboard.

"(Notoa) the old head, we weren't sure if he'd be right for the semi, he hurt his hamstring in the last round but he got up,” the coach said.

"He brings to us probably what Walker brings to Norths. He knows how to come up with a play.

"The boys know he's been around, they know he's played a lot of football and trust (his experience). That experience in finals really helps.”

The Reserve Grade minor premiers recovered from a sloppy opening stanza to pile on four second-half tries on the way to a 32-20 win over bitter rivals Norths.

The result was a weight off for O'Connell, who admitted to nerves before the match despite his side's dominance through the regular season.

"We've been the best side all year, but sometimes that doesn't give you confidence,” he said.

"You think, 'Is it our turn to have a bad game?'

"I think we did have a bad game, but we showed we can still win even when we play bad.

"Our first half was a bit up and down, but we seemed to get a bit more structured in the second half.”

The former Swifts coach said there was no secret to Brothers' success in the second half. It was just about rediscovering the consistency that got the team into top spot in the first place.

"I reminded them only we could beat ourselves,” O'Connell said.

"It's the little things that count in a football game come finals. Go back to holding the ball, completing your sets, and put yourself in position at the end to win the game.”

Rugby League Ipswich Reserve Grade major semi-final: Brothers Ipswich 32 (J. Leisemann, Z. Sutton, M. Kuss, D. Faaiu, M. Notoa, N. Elisaia tries; J. Leisemann 2 goals, R. Brown 2 goals) def. Norths Tigers 20 (J. Plumb, R. Mato, T. Hornbuckle, A. Walker tries; W. Bennet, A. Walker goals) at North Ipswich Reserve



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