Kirwan Claim State Title Against Palm Beach Currumbin
Author : Nick Wright, Townsville Bulletin
Jeremiah Nanai double sparks state cup jubiliation for Kirwan
NEVER has Jeremiah Nanai scored two more crucial tries.
Without them, Kirwan may never have lifted the Phil Hall Cup and wouldn’t have created history.
The Bears triumphant run culminated in a enthralling 24-20 victory over Palm Beach Currumbin — a physical contest captivating spectators to the very last minute.
Both of the damaging backrower’s tries came in the second stanza, after the two teams went into the break at 12-10 with nothing to split them.
First it was a moment of individual brilliance that almost went haywire. Nanai fumbled the ball behind him, only to regather it and shrug off several would-be tacklers to crash over.
Then it was a pinpoint grubber from five-eighth Harley Taylor early in the tackle count, with a graceful finish having the Bears in raptures.
“It just happened in the moment,” Nanai said of his second try.
“We called Bear Shape, but Harley then got it through and luckily we got the try.”
But even after a late penalty goal got them ahead by 14, there was another twist to the story.
Palm Beach were finishing in a flurry, with tries to Oskar Bryant and Thomas Weaver getting the visitors within four points.
With time left for one final throw of the dice, the Gold Coast outfit found space down the left hand side, only for desperate defence from Kirwan winger Ethan Andrews to tackle his opposite number into touch and seal the result.
Andrews was spurred on by a healthy crowd, with the Kirwan Year 12 cohort making the noise of a packed stadium on the sidelines.
Bears coach Todd Wilson said that atmosphere at Neil Stewart Park was the difference between the equally-matched outfits.
“Having the fans was a massive difference, I am sure at the end when the game was close, it was the difference.
The fact we were at home, we had our home crowd there behind us,” Wilson said.
“I think Kirwan High School has an amazing community, the boys really appreciate that and understand that. The boys know they can do something positive for their school community by playing to the best of their ability. It means a lot to them.
“It drives them.
“To have everyone here and stay around after the game is exceptional.”
It was that community force that was in every crunching Bears tackle and dominant charge through the middle led by forwards Ty-Ty Baira-Gela, Cruz Smith and Abai Chatfield-Mooka.
“That was our game plan, get up there, get into tackles. We had to get there from the front foot, brick them, and win the ruck,” Nanai said.
“It’s a big honour winning this, I’ve never done this before so it’s a big honour.
“The community that’s backed us through it all; it’s a credit to them, and a credit to everyone who has helped us through this.”
Baira-Gela, who recently signed on with the North Queensland Cowboys, was in the thick of the early action — moving from his customary lock position to start at hooker.
The opening tries to fullback Ragsy Wavik and co-Peter Sterling Medalist Abai Chatfield-Mooka came from crash balls close to the line, with the strength of the two scorers doing the rest.
Had it not been for a forward pass out of dummy half, it could have been a third try assist for Baira-Gela a second Chatfield-Mooka four-pointer just before half time.
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