Goodna Eagles stun Fassifern with power and passion
THE POWER and the passion of the Goodna Eagles pulsated throughout their stunning A Grade grand final win over Fassifern.
Coach Laurie Campbell said before the 32-14 victory he had the "big dogs", the big game players, who come out to play in the games that count.
"I knew the week before we'd win. I told you to 'get on us'. I knew they had this performance in them from their eyes, their bodies and their everything," a jubilant coach said after the win.
"The work they put in to win this was unbelievable. We had a six-week block of brutal fitness. We flogged them, we flogged them and we flogged them. And they just kept responding, responding and responding.
"Max (Seumanutafa), Rez Phillips, Corey Kirk, Zac Lemberg and Alby (Talipeau) played out of their skins in the finals.
"They are big dogs, but I had 17 big dogs."
The big dogs, all 17 of them, came out to play all right.
Five-eighth Kirk had promised supporters the side had an extra gear to move into in the big dance.
They were in overdrive.
Captain and man of the match Ramon Filipine powered ahead with each charge like a runaway rhino who had challenged himself to run through brick walls every time he got the ball.
If you are looking for one try that sums up Goodna it came in the 13th minute.
Leading 4-nil, Filipine bullocked into the defence from the kick-off. Then prop Rez Phillips, who was in bed with a virus just five hours earlier, burst through the defence to run 50m and find a flying Ray Baira in support.
"After that run by Rez I knew we were on and the game was going to go our way," prop Zac Lemberg said.
Fassifern centre Leveni Kurimalawai did what he does best and got it down from close range in the 18th minute.
Genius from Baira gave Goodna their third. From a tap kick 10m out he looked left and then, with what seemed like a magic trick, flipped it to an unmarked Ratu Waqanivalu on the right wing to make it 14-4 at the break.
"The two biggest guys in my team - Ramon and Terry (Taeao Kepu) - were hungry for the ball," Baira grinned from ear to ear, when asked after the game what he was thinking.
" The Fassifern players all came in to get them. So I threw a dummy and went 'here'."
Kurimalawai scored straight after the interval but a diagonal run by Kirk saw Goodna hit back
Absolute class by the Goodna boys followed as the ball went right to left with a precision the Melbourne Storm would have been proud of and Max Seumanutafa showed his prowess to make it 24-8.
Late tries to Filipine and Waqanivalu iced the cake and gave the Eagles back-to-back titles.
Filipine has no thought of pulling the pin on his career and was ecstatic when celebrating with his teammates.
"I can't walk away from this. I will not hang around past my due date. I will know when it is time, but it is not time," he said.
"Even when we were up by two or three tries I kept saying to the boys 'it doesn't matter if we are 100 points ahead, we don't put the cue in the rack'. I kept thinking about the Broncos semi. The Roosters got ahead, the Broncos came back...and then the Roosters got them in the end.
"I wanted to make sure we kept the lid on it.
"Our crowd was unbelievable.
"We kept saying 'that is not our party over there (in the stands). This is our party here on the field'."
Goodna veteran Alby Talipeau finished his stellar career in the best possible way.
"That's it for me. It's finished, but great to go out back-to-back," the wily half said.
"There are no regrets. I've had a great career.
"This victory is a great reward for all these young boys, for our coach Laurie Campbell and all our staff."
Lemberg paid tribute to his own men and to his opponents.
"Fassifern are a great team and they probably deserved the premiership this year based on form," Lemberg said.
"The character of the boys just shone through.
"It is a shame Ramon is 32 and his career is nearly up, but maybe he will go until he is 42.
"I have played with Ramon for years now and I know him as a bloke and a friend. But Ramon the footy player is just getting better and better.
"He used to be a winger and has found his home in the forwards. I just love him."
Fassifern captain and former NRL star David Fa'alogo, who has now hung up the boots, conceded his side was well below its best.
"You've got to give it to Goodna, but we didn't give ourselves a chance," he said.
"The times that we scored, we then didn't complete our sets. We kept giving them the momentum shift. They ran hard and we just didn't seem to get into the game.
"That's sport. You win some, you lose some.
"Life goes on."