Heart-break and pride as Ipswich Cup hopes shattered
IT was a cliffhanger finish that threatened to ignite Ipswich State High's Langer Cup charge.
Instead, the match that was entertaining and heartbreaking at the same time ended Ipswich's Langer Cup final hopes.
While trying to work out what happened conceding 18 first half points, head coach Josh Bretherton remained positive about the spirit his team showed.
"I'm very, very proud of the fightback,'' Bretherton said after Ipswich nearly completed a stunning second half form reversal before going down 22-16 to Keebra Park.
"And we started an opportunity to show the football that we can play but the start just wasn't good enough.''
Playing at Ipswich's rugby league headquarters, the open schoolboy side was left shell-shocked after Keebra Park piled on three unanswered first half tries.
At halftime, the game looked as good as over.
But on the hallowed North Ipswich Reserve turf, Ipswich State High displayed some promising qualities they are yet to combine for an entire match in this year's Langer Cup series.
Desperation tries to powerful substitute Elijuwhon Suavai, centre Aiden Severns and contracted Sydney Roosters back Evander Tere-Rongotaua gave Ipswich a real shot at victory.
Keebra Park finally crossed again to shatter the Ipswich miracle dream.
After losses to Palm Beach Currumbin 22-10 and St Mary's College 24-16, Ipswich State High had no option but to win this afternoon.
"We don't really know to be honest,'' Bretherton said when asked what went wrong in the first 40 minutes.
"Everything preparation wise, they seemed to be ready.
"I certainly think once they conceded one early, they got a little bit shell-shocked. But leading up to the point, we'll have to look at overnight.''
Keebra coach Glen Campbell conceded his nerves were on edge as he watched his side give up a massive lead.
"It was a character test to know that when you get on top, that we can hang on,'' Campbell said.
"I don't want to ever be in that position again. However, that's football and we'd like to see us improve.''
The win was Keebra Park's second from three matches after beating Marsden 24-0 the previous week following a first-round 38-24 loss to Wavell.
For Ipswich, it's time to continue what they do best by developing more exciting talent.
"We still get to go out every week and play in the best schoolboy comp in the country,'' Bretherton said.
"There's plenty of reasons to keep playing good football and show what we can.''
He said the players could continue to share in the "joy' of playing in a special competition, representing Ipswich High with pride.
Among Ipswich's best against Keebra Park were powerhouse centre Tere-Rongotaua and fullback Deijion Leugaimafa, who never gave up with his spirited runs.
Josiah Pahulu was also a standout.
"What he did today as one of the youngest players running around the field was truly exceptional,'' the head coach said. "He should be very proud of what he did.''
Ipswich State High face Marsden away in their round four Langer Cup contest next Wednesday.
Ever supportive of his troops, Bretherton and his team will stick to the task in what remains of this year's series
"We've had good periods and bad periods and we've also gone through a little bit of a bad phase and now we've just got to work our way out of it and take our next steps,'' he said.
"The second half was a massive step forward in fixing what we want to fix.''
In today's earlier Walters Cup encounter, Keebra Park weathered some improved defence from winless Ipswich State High to beat the home side 22-12.
Keebra Park led 10-6 at halftime.
Ipswich State High's try scorers were halfback Shannon Stewart, who made a cheeky run from dummy half, and Elijah Masame. He crossed in the second half to reduce the margin to 16-12 before Keebra Park finished the job.
Langer Cup Round 3: Keebra Park 22 ( Levi Jones 2, Dave Telea, Tuvalli Khan-Pereira tries; Connor Te Kani 3 goals) def Ipswich State High 16 (Elijuwhon Suavai, Aiden Severns, Evander Tere-Rongotaua tries; Lachlan Williamson 2 goals) at North Ipswich Reserve.