Hungry Gladiators grab crown
THE Goodna Gladiators have brought Subbies rugby glory back to the Ipswich region.
Goodna won the Scotney Cup grand final at Ballymore on Saturday, beating Riverside 20-13 in a tense battle.
"It was tight all the way to the end," Goodna loose-head prop Wayne Matautia said.
"I came off for the last four minutes and couldn't sit down.
"I thought they were going to come over us.
"They had us up against the ropes for the last seven minutes."
Goodna led throughout the match but were never more than a converted try clear.
When the siren sounded Goodna rejoiced, only to be told by the referee there was still two-and-a-half minutes left.
"They were in our 10 at that time," Matautia said.
"But we were just hungrier I think.
"Especially because they had beaten us all year."
When full-time was finally declared, Matautia did not know how to react.
"It was mixed emotions," he said.
"I didn't know whether to cry.
"It was my first grand final ever."
The prop said it was his team's set piece dominance and the pace of the Goodna wingers that set up the win.
Winger Eden Smith scored two tries and the Goodna scrum forced several wins against the feed.
Not bad considering 27-year-old Matautia is only in his second year playing rugby union.
He played league at high school but no footy since then, until joining the Gladiators last year.
"I quit drinking and smoking so I had to take something up," the Goodna resident said.
Taking up a new sport aged 25 is tough for anyone, but for a prop in union there are few tougher initiations.
"It was hard trying to learn it," he said.
"Especially the technique and everything.
"Everybody teaches you a different way."
It was only through painful experience that he learned, but Saturday was evidence he was ready to graduate with honours.
"It was especially pleasing against Riverside," Matautia said of his team's dominant scrum.
"They're the strongest scrum in the comp.
"We got a few over them for the first time ever. The key was everyone pushing together."
Riverside were the minor premiers and beat Goodna in the preliminary semi-final a fortnight ago.
But the Gladiators timed their run to perfection, playing their best footy when it mattered most.
Goodna appear set to move from the Scotney Cup up a division into the Barber and Pegg cups with two teams next season.
They won the Barber Cup in 2008 and Matautia wants to be part of the rebuild to help the club regain its former Brisbane Subdistricts Rugby Union success.
Saturday's grand final win was a step in the right direction, following several years of pain, from floods to mass player, coach and administration departures.
Just like the pain Matautia had to endure learning how to scrummage, it has made the subsequent success even sweeter.
Scotney Cup grand final: Goodna 20 def Riverside 13.