Dare to dream
WITH 11 minutes remaining, Norths led Goodna by 12 points and had reason to believe they would leave Richardson Park with the points yesterday.
That Goodna ended up winning by eight points says much about the Eagles.
They can beat anyone when they do the simple things well.
For much of the game, they didn't.
But in the final 10 minutes, they held on to the ball, their forwards got a roll on and, out wide, centre Corey Salter showed off his mercurial talents.
Providing the link between forwards and backs was veteran Goodna halfback Damon Viellaris.
The 32-year-old only decided to go around once more this season to be part of the Eagles Centenary year, rather than push for a first grade spot.
"The plan was to have a quiet season in the reggies (Reserve grade)," he said.
"Then Shaun asked me if I wanted to have one more go."
Neither side looked like title contenders early, with simple errors frustrating players and spectators.
Goodna was the first to settle, with forwards Roger Eliu and Alister Tauaa crossing for tries from close range to give the Eagles a 12-0 lead after 21 minutes.
Norths got the message, eliminated the mistakes and hit back with two tries to centre Casey Mayfield and one to Travis Page for a 14-12 half-time lead.
"We didn't have much ball," Viellaris said of his team's first half.
"A few tip-ons didn't go our way.
"But we're slowly learning to play 80 minutes of football."
The Eagles began the second half better, with hooker William Oloitoa showing quick thinking and feet out of dummy half to feed Elijah Umu on the blindside for a try and the lead.
Norths hit back when Casey Mayfield, who was having a blinder, put winger Anava Fesolai over for a try.
Tigers five-eighth Josh Roberts extended the lead when he scored a dubious try soon after.
Roberts a chipped and chased, then tipped the ball ahead over oncoming Goodna fullback Taavili Leavnoa to regather and score.
If it was deliberately tipped forward, it should have been a Goodna penalty but the try stood and the conversion had Norths leading 24-16.
When Norths centre Matthew Fairhurst scored with 15 minutes remaining, the momentum was all with the Tigers who led 28-16.
Perhaps something was said under the posts but Goodna responded with an intensity that had been absent all game.
Salter scored a spectacular solo try from a break, chip and regather with 11 minutes remaining.
Goodna rumbled the length of the field from the ensuing kick-off and again it was Salter who crossed in the right-hand corner.
The missed conversion left Goodna trailing by two points with five minutes remaining.
But Goodna was just warming up and five-eighth Wise Kativerafa combined with Salter soon after to put winger Nacanieli Nabobo over and take the lead.
As if to prove they could, Goodna scored once more before the siren when Oloitoa finished off a 50m break.
Viellaris has only been back in the top grade for two weeks but revealed the new Goodna halves combination of himself and former Fijian international Kativerafa is nothing new at all.
The pair played together in Bundaberg five years ago and have brought guidance and stability to the often erratic Eagles.
It is all that is required, given the talent around them, as Salter showed.
"He's a freak," Viellaris said of the young centre.
"Last week he had a brilliant game. It was the same today.
"He's just so creative."
Salter wouldn't have had the chance to shine though if not for the work of the Eagles pack, which provided the go-forward when their team needed it most.
"Our forwards did a good job," Viellaris said. "It all comes down to playing as a team."
STATE OF PLAY
With four tries in the final 11 minutes, Goodna turned a likely defeat to victory over Norths 36-28 at Richardson Park yesterday. The win lifts Goodna ahead of Norths into third spot on the IRL A-grade ladder.