Ipswich High hope for a cup miracle
IPSWICH State High will be praying for a final-round Langer Cup miracle.
Queensland's premier schoolboy rugby league competition featuring the state's six best teams is closer than ever this year.
Going down to the wire, with nothing separating the frontrunners, for and against could decide the eventual victor.
After outlasting and overpowering a gallant St Mary's Toowoomba 30-18, Ipswich is still a mathematical chance of lifting the trophy but will need favourable results next week.
With Keebra Park and Palm Beach Currumbin both recording convincing victories in last night's penultimate round four, Ipswich joins them in a three-way tie at the top of the table on six points.
However, following yesterday's dominant displays both Keebra (+44) and Palm Beach (+36) possess significantly superior point differentials than Ipswich's underdogs (+14).
The two Gold Coast heavyweights are set to face off next week.
If the arch rivals finish in an unlikely draw and Ipswich can overcome fourth-placed Marsden SHS, Ipswich will snatch the title.
Failing that, Ipswich would require Palm Beach and Keebra to play out a close one before putting Marsden to the sword and securing a landslide win.
Triumph by more than 30 and they give themselves a fighting chance, depending on other matches.
Physical education teacher and coach Joshua Bretherton admitted it would require nothing short of a miracle for his team to sneak through and steal the trophy but he remained optimistic.
"We would need to beat Marsden by a cricket score and in this competition that is probably not going to happen," he said. "But you never know.
"It is exciting that we are sitting up there with those two who have done it at this level for a long time."
Bretherton said ideally his side would love to knock off Marsden and finish in the top two to secure the highest possible ranking for the national knockout competition.
"Realistically, if we can finish in the top two that would be great," he said. "Then we'll have the mid-season break and begin our preparations for knockouts."
Bretherton said regardless of the outcome it had already been a successful season for the Ipswich State High School Excellence in Rugby League program.
He said a number of goals had been achieved, including finishing in the top four of the Langer Cup.
Coaching staff have also been particularly pleased to see greater improvement from all players and teams.
"Credit has to go to all of the staff, including John Dore, Steve Talavae, Peter Poole, Daniel Hobson, Josh Seage, Chris Ostwald and Shane Harris," Bretherton said.
"Each has their own niche roles and responsibilities within the excellence program but when it comes to the Langer Cup side, it is all hands on deck and they all make massive sacrifices and put in a lot of hours."
In the clash with St Mary's at Norths in Ipswich, the host's superior strength was evident from the get-go.
As expected, the mobile Toowoomba boys looked to play an up-tempo brand of football that kept the sizeable Ipswich pack on the move. A strategy which proved advantageous in the first half, placing Ipswich under extreme pressure.
Ipswich opened the scoring through dangerous right centre Bill Gase before two long range efforts against the run of play had St Mary's in front 12-6.
On the stroke of half-time Gase showed tremendous speed, power and skill to slice through before delivering a deft flick offload to winger Watjerra Briggs who dived into the corner.
As he did all night, gun goal kicker and halfback Lachlan Williamson slotted the conversion from the sideline to equalise.
After the break, Ipswich wore down a resilient St Mary's outfit.
As St Mary's fatigued from having to throw themselves in front of the larger bodies all night, Ipswich crossed for two late tries to run away 30-18 winners.
In the end, the difference between the sides was the lethal right-side combination of second rower Ativalu Lisati, centre Bill Gase and winger Watjerra briggs, which terrorised their opponents.
State of Play
Langer Cup Rd 4: Ipswich SHS 30 def St Mary's Toowoomba 18; Palm Beach Currumbin 38 def Wavell SHS 4; Keebra Park 28 def Marsden 10.