Goal after bell secures draw for Swifts against Norths
SWIFTS fullback Ratunaisa Vatuinaruku has revealed the positive mindset that inspired his 50m penalty goal after the final siren to secure a 16-all draw against Norths.
The Bluebirds retained the Harry Langer Memorial Trophy as they were the holders of the prestigious title that is contested annually between the clubs.
Norths prop Lui Afele was sin-binned at the death and Vatuinaruku, who had an outstanding game, drilled the penalty between the sticks.
The former Fijian rugby union star said he had no doubts about landing the kick.
"I didn't really feel the pressure,” he said. "I was telling myself 'I will make this for all of my brothers in our team'. I've kicked them longer in rugby union.
"But it was all credit to the boys' defence that we were able to get the draw.”
Swifts led 10-4 at half-time after a try to winger Sonny Appo following a neat cut-out pass from Harold Mosby.
On the stroke of half-time five-eighth Andrew Taylor went himself and scored.
Earlier Norths winger Anava Fesolai had gone in after a Swifts mistake.
Swifts showed great resilience in the opening half with their defence on the line snuffing out numerous Tigers' raids. Norths drew level after the break when playmaker Josh Roberts went on a typically decisive charge to the line.
Vatuinaruku then dove over from close range for Swifts before rising Norths talent Jackson Weir-White appeared to have won the game with a barnstorming try.
Steven West converted to give the Tigers a 16-14 lead before Vatuinaruku's heroics for Swifts at the end.
Swifts coach Steve O'Connell said his side's defence was the key to retaining the trophy and securing a draw.
"The defence was inspirational today,” he said.
"We were down on troops. We only had 14 players to start the game and then we got a few Reserve graders to back up.
"Norths are a good side and we always have tough games against them. A draw is still good because we are walking away with some (competition) points.”
O'Connell was also confident that Vatuinaruku could land the late penalty.
"He kicked one dead from a kick-off so I knew he could get the distance,” he said. "It was just a matter of making sure it was accurate.”
The coach enjoyed the regular chip and chases put on by his fullback and centre Mosby.
"You coach them as much as you can but a lot of that stuff they do off instinct,” he said. "They back themselves and often times they win the game for you, although sometimes lose it for you too. But their effort each week is great and the crowd loves to see it.”
O'Connell said his forwards were impressing him.
"Jesse Crossan was my back-up hooker and now he is playing front-row and today played 65 minutes. He turns up and has a go and that is what all the boys are doing,” he said.
Norths are a much better side than what they showed.
Coach Anthony O'Brien described it "our ugliest game all year” in what was a mistake riddled effort. The Tigers blew plenty of tries but still showed character to not lose the game.
Weir-White is a youthful talent who was outstanding at lock and a player to watch.
"I was really impressed with him. He's got a big future in the game,” O'Brien said.
"He is still in our under 19 side but has been up with us for four or five weeks.”