Nukunuku's golden point sends Brothers to final
NINE Queensland women's representatives on the park. Arguably the two best teams in the competition, and a 15-14 scoreline separated only at the death by a clutch field goal from the league's leading point-scorer.
It was a game that lived up to its billing and then-some, and it was Ipswich Brothers who emerged victorious.
They defeated the two-time reigning premiers Burleigh Bears on their home deck of Pizzey Park, and booked a place in the Struddy's Cup decider on September 16.
The visitors struck early to lead 6-0 in blustery conditions, but for all their dominance were unable to translate that to scoreboard pressure.
Burleigh were always going to come at them and they did, arresting control and moving into the lead as time expired in the second half.
Ipswich then crossed to score and Kiriana Nukunuku added the extras to bring the team within two points. Minutes later the visitors were awarded a penalty in front of the uprights, and Nukunuku again converted to square the ledger at 14-all.
Brothers thought they had stolen a win at the death when they crossed in the corner, but for the referee to rule no-try due to a forward pass. The stalemate forced extra time.
With the extra time rules confirmed to both sides - first to score wins - Brothers coach Becky Jones opted to receive the kick-off, trusting in her charges to not hand possession back to Burleigh.
Kody House made a barnstorming run through the middle to provide strong field position for the Ipswich side, and it then fell on the shoulders of the competition's leading point-scorer, Nukunuku, to seal the deal.
"Kirri hit it over the black dot and we got the result,” Jones recalled of the winning field goal.
"We spoke to them about what we needed to do going into extra time, and they did it to-a-t.”
"It was a spectacular game of women's football.”
Nukunuku was awarded best on ground for her game-winning performance, but the two and one vote-getters were harder to award.
"Kiriana got the nod as our best player,” Jones said.
"She's a bit of a quiet achiever. Because we have a few representative players they get more recognition but week-in, week-out she does the job for us.
"It was too hard to decide on the other best players. Their commitment never faltered, they were all contributors (to the win).
"Every single one of them has been there for the year and contributed, which is why we've been so successful.”
Jones said regardless of the opponent they face on September 16, she has every confidence the team will have what it takes to win.
"If we go out and perform like we can, we won't have anything to worry about,” Jones said.
"It won't be Burleigh (or West Brisbane Panthers) that beats us, it's us.
" I can't be any prouder of this team. They deserve it from the effort they've shown, and that's why they're in the grand final.
"The way the girls in our team contribute each week, those who may not have been on the radar may now be on the radar for those representative duties.”
Struddy's Cup semi-final: Brothers 15 (Courtney Robinson, Kelly O'Doherty; Kiriana Nukunuku 3 Goals, Kirana Nukunuku 1 Field Goal) def Burleigh 14 at Pizzey Park, Gold Coast.