Crushers break TDRL drought
HERBERT River celebrated a fairytale first Townsville and Districts Rugby League premiership after stunning hot favourites Brothers 26-24 in the grand final.
The Crushers produced a remarkable turnaround to deny Brothers a hat-trick of premierships, having been thrashed by the minor premiers 48-4 in the major semi-final.
Herbert River trailed 18-8 at halftime before controlling the second half on the way to scoring a deserved win in their first grand final appearance since joining the TDRL in 1995.
The fulltime siren prompted jubilant scenes among Herbert River players and officials and the hundreds of travelling supporters who had given the big grand final crowd at the Townsville Sports Reserve a distinctly pro-Crushers feel.
It was a stunning comeback by the Ingham club, who had looked down and out when trailing Sharks United 32-16 during the second half of the preliminary final.
Crushers co-coaches Kevin Cook and Jason Erba paid tribute to their players.
‘‘These boys will go down in history, you can never take that away from them,’’ Cook said.
‘‘We had nothing to lose and the boys just got confidence from the Sharks game and believed in themselves after that.
‘‘The crowd deserves a special mention, they lifted us.’’
Herbert River were sparked barely a minute into the second half by star five-eighth Michael Rose, whose suberb individual try from deep inside his own half proved the cue for the Crushers to take control of the match. Erba praised his team’s grit. Herbert River lost fullback Luke Spina (ankle injury) during the first half, while hooker and cocaptain Kieren Quagliotto, centre Luke Giudicatti and halfback Mitchell Seri each required painkilling injections to get through the match.
‘‘We found spirit we didn’t know we had,’’ Erba said.
‘‘We’re a confidence team and by keeping close to Brothers all day I think our confidence started to grow, especially in the second half with the big wind.’’
7 IN THE SPOTLIGHT . . . the Crushers after their grand final win