Tigers land upset
Dogged defensive effort helps Tully rain on minor premiers’ parade
TULLY might be known as the Tigers, but its rugby league team played with the courage of lions to beat Brothers 20-18 in yesterday’s CDRL preliminary final.
The Tigers are now one win away from a fairytale premiership after many expected them to miss the finals in 2018.
Just like its previous two finals, Tully trailed early in the afternoon clash as Brothers took an 8-0 lead off the back of George House penalty goal and a converted Gabriel Tognolini try.
But the brave Tigers refused to give in, despite conceding size to the minor premiers in the middle of the park. They opened their scoring through the brilliant Matt Musumeci off the back of a scrum.
It was veteran halfback Colin Wilkie who created the error in the first place. His clever kick made it difficult for the Brothers defender to collect the ball and the knock-on led to the scoring opportunity.
With 90 seconds left in the half, Phil Nona kicked a penalty goal to level the scores heading into the break.
It was all Tully in the second half, with set pieces again coming to the fore.
The Tigers scored just two minutes into the period, with Trevor Mathieson scoring after Daley Rata-Makene made a break down the right sideline from a scrum.
Nona kicked the goal and scores remained at 14-8 for the best part of 20 minutes before the big centre kicked another penalty goal to give Tully a 16-8 lead.
The margin was extended with 11 minutes to go when Musumeci scored his second try on the back of a line dropout.
Brothers responded immediately on the back of a short kick-off through veteran Justin Castellaro to make it 20-12, but the conversion was unsuccessful.
With two minutes to go, Patrick Lewis scored next to the left upright to make it 20-18, but the Tully side did enough to hang on and secure a grand final berth.
“I can’t stop smiling,” coach Aaron Tongalea said after the game.
“The whole of Tully is going to get behind us this week. We had a big supporter base here today to cheer on the boys.”
Brothers coach Robbie Swain lamented his side’s missed opportunities but was full of praise for Tully.
“Defence wins you games of footy and they defended really well,” he said. “It’s a tough way to finish the season but we will learn from it.”
Brothers lost just one game in the regular season, but was bundled out of the CDRL finals in straight sets.
The Tigers will now play Mossman-Port Douglas in the grand final next Saturday at 7pm at Barlow Park.
I CAN’T STOP SMILING. THE WHOLE OF TULLY IS GOING TO GET BEHIND US THIS WEEK. WE HAD A BIG SUPPORTER BASE HERE TODAY TO CHEER ON THE BOYS.
HOPES DASHED: Brothers’ Peter Tuccandidgee flies high for the ball during the CDRL preliminary final against Tully at Barlow Park.