Late raid lifts Bombers team
THE only thing missing was a Michael Jackson soundtrack when Norths and Fassifern turned in a 34-all "Thriller" at North Ipswich Reserve on Saturday night.
In a game that had more swings than a children's playground, Fassifern took advantage of a Norths defensive lapse in the final minute to steal a point in the exhilarating contest.
The lead changed on multiple occasions but it will be the Tigers that will feel it was one that got away after they butchered plays in the dying minutes.
First, a miscommunication on a last-tackle play saw Norths turn the ball over in their defensive half, forcing a scrum with less than two minutes on the clock.
The mistake was then compounded when stand-in Fassifern five-eighth Mitchell Range pounced on a mistake by rookie fullback Rhan Hooper from the restart.
From the scrum win, Hooper found himself too shallow in the defensive line when Range chipped through for centre Isimeeli Hafoka who regathered the kick to score.
An ice-cool Hafoka then calmly converted the try from wide out to steal a draw and break the hearts of Tigers fans.
Tiger coach Boss Cecil was adamant his team had given away a certain win.
"Absolutely," Cecil said.
"If you consider the eight points we missed from conversions.
"Then that last period when we couldn't clear the ball.
"Then the last play.
"We had plenty of chances."
Cecil highlighted his team's inability to land conversions as the main reason for the loss.
"Goal kicking in the end was the difference," he said.
"We had problems all night.
"We missed four goals and one was very kickable in front.
"He (Brent Newton) seems to slot the long ones but by his own admission, he doesn't like the shorter ones."
The Tigers will feel even more aggrieved with the result after coming back from a big first half deficit.
After scoring in the first minute to lead 6-0, the Bombers scored 24 unanswered points in 25 minutes to take a stranglehold on the match.
Then 10 minutes either side of halftime, the match swung again with the Tigers scoring 22 points to nil of their own.
As disappointed as Cecil was with the result, Bombers player-coach Daniel Roos said the result was more of a win than a loss for his side.
"We probably played 20 minutes of very bad football with lots of mistakes and that let them back into the game," Roos said.
"Once they were back into it, it became an arm-wrestle.
"So to come away with a draw in the end was pretty good outcome."
Tim Newton was a standout for Norths, doing a power of work in the Tigers forward pack.
His coach singled out the front-rower for special praise after the match.
"Aussie (Timmy Newton) ground out 80 minutes of football for us again," Cecil said.
"He was absolutely sensational for us in the loss to Brothers and again he carried that on against another quality side.
"His game and confidence is rubbing off on the rest of the guys.
"He demands effort from everyone else around him.
"He's one of our real team leaders."
Fassifern playmaker Andrew Walker was a late withdrawal from the Bombers team after pinching a nerve in his neck mid-week.
Roos said his team missed the experience of the former dual international. "He does a lot of talking so other guys had to step up," Roos said.
"I think that's why we lost it for those 20-30 minutes. Players started to go quiet and he wasn't there to keep the talk going."
The result changes little on the IRL table but points to a competitive finals series as Norths show they can match it with both of last season's grand finalists.