West End Colts dig deep in stunning victory
SURELY one of the gutsiest and most remarkable Colts wins ever was conjured up by the West End Bulldogs on Saturday.
During the warm-up, captain and halfback Regan Wilde went down with a hamstring strain before playing the game on one leg.
Then from the kick-off a Jesse Zampech-inspired Norths applied the blowtorch with raid after raid on the Bulldogs line.
The Bulldogs did not venture into the opposition half until a 30m surge by prop Lisite "Sooka'' Hafoka in the 20th minute, with almost one third of the game gone, but they still managed to win comfortably.
Wilde, who is affectionately called "Ian Lacey's son” by coach Jae Woodward due to his small stature, said he was a worried man before kick-off.
"I was a bit cold, pushed off it and then I went down,” he said.
"It was a real scare . . . but I got through it for the boys.
"They gave it to us and for the first 20 minutes we were defending set after set.
"But the boys dug in deep.
"You could feel Sooka's impact as soon as he came back from the airport yesterday and we had our captain's run. Just the confidence he brings lifts us. That run in the 20th minute changed the game.”
Moments after that run fullback Tyrell Woodley cleaned up inside his own in goal and made yards before Trent Manihera-Paul found a flying Marcus Zernike who raced 40m to score out wide.
Zampech scored on half-time to give Norths the lead but the second half belonged to West End with man-of-the-match Trent Manihera-Paul dominant.
Wilde was in everything when the game was on the line, setting up two tries.
Hooker Leroy Chapman was everywhere and scored two tries while giant forward Samuela Vaevagi was a constant threat.
Norths had brave performers too with captain Jackson Weir-White battling on with what appeared to be a shoulder injury for most of the second half.
Manihera-Paul said the first 20 minutes was where the game was won by the Bulldogs defence.
"Sometimes in those situations teams can put their heads down but we defended and worked hard for each other,” he said.
The side was over the moon that the West End Old Boys had paid to fly Hafoka back to Australia from New Zealand to play after his father passed away on the eve of last week's preliminary final.
"We just have to thank his dad,” Manihera-Paul said.
"He was looking down on us and looking after us. (Hafoka) gave his all and had a blinder today.
"This win is my favourite by far. ”
"West End is a great club, family orientated and we all just can't thank them enough.”
Hafoka wore headgear with a heart emblazoned on the front and the word 'Dad'.
He was the man of the moment, and overwhelmed by what the club had done for him in his time of need.
"I am speechless about what the boys have done for me,” he said.
"I played for the boys, my family and my dad.”