BAND OF BROTHERS: West End Colts acknowledge supporters after winning the preliminary final in honour of the late father of prop Lisite Hafoka (number eight, second from left).
BAND OF BROTHERS: West End Colts acknowledge supporters after winning the preliminary final in honour of the late father of prop Lisite Hafoka (number eight, second from left). David Nielsen

Spirit of Hafoka with West End as Colts rise

YOU will struggle to find a more emotional and inspirational preliminary final victory than the one achieved by the West End Colts.

When highly regarded prop Lisite Hafoka's father passed away on the eve of the match the players rallied to his side with some staying with their teammate overnight in his time of need.

Then, wearing black arm bands, they came together as one on the field to achieve a 30-16 victory. Hafoka has flown out to New Zealand to be with his family and won't be taking the field in Saturday night's grand final against Norths.

Halfback Regan Wilde, a close friend of Hafoka's and also a teammate at Ipswich State High, said the players had dedicated the win to Hafoka.

"We all just wanted to push through for him,” he said.

"He has been over here on a scholarship and has been through a rough time so we all came together and won it for him.

"A lot of us play with him at Ipswich State High and there is a real bond between us.

"He won't be here for the grand final but that is more motivation to go out and get the win for him.”

Hafoka said he wanted to play to honour his father. He was emotional after the match and paid tribute to his teammates.

"I am just very proud of the effort the boys put in,” he said.

West End's Jack Canning is congratulated after scoring a try.
West End's Jack Canning is congratulated after scoring a try. David Nielsen

Goodna opened the scoring in the preliminary final when five-eighth Codey Hazard put a crafty kick through and regathered after a fumble.

West End have some big boppers up front and the biggest off the lot, Samuela Vaeagi, powered over close to the posts to give the Bulldogs the lead with 16 minutes remaining in the first half.

The next try was a classic.

Five-eighth Trent Manihera-Paul set himself nice and deep and found a flying Tyrell Woodley who juggled the ball on his fingertips at full speed and stepped his way through the Goodna defence with dancing feet to make it 10-4.

The width to the Bulldogs play was a highlight and it led to another slick try.

A long pass from dummy half Kaygen Munro found Manihera-Paul running the perfect angle at speed. The number six threw a neat dummy and raced away to give West End a 16-4 lead.

An error gave Goodna possession just before the break and Sione Fe'ao went on a weaving run to score out wide and reduce the Bulldogs lead to 16-8 at the break.

But Manihera-Paul was at it again after half-time and another crisp ball sent Jack Canning over.

A blistering 50m run by centre Luke Geary sealed the deal and a win for the ages.

The West End lads will take on Norths in the grand final on Saturday. Hafoka won't be with them on the field, but he will be in spirit you can guarantee it.



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