Brothers take back-to-back titles
BROTHERS ended their season of dominance the best way possible by beating a gallant Innisfail 46-20 in yesterday's A grade grand final at Barlow Park.
It was Brothers' second Cairns District Rugby League premiership in as many years and came after a campaign that produced only one loss.
While the winning margin finished 26 points, the Leprechauns were in the contest until hooker Luke Romano was sin-binned in the 69th minute.
Brothers ran riot with the extra-man advantage, scoring three tries to finish the match.
A relieved and proud man after the final whistle, Brothers player-coach Robbie Swain described the win was the best moment of his career.
"I won a few premierships as a player, but this totally eclipses all of them," Swain said.
"This is the best feeling ever. I can only sit back and soak it up."
While he always expected a hard game, Swain said the Leprechauns forced his team to find their best.
"We knew they were going to be tough," he said. "It's a finals game. It was always going to be a tough game. Even though we hadn't played much the past month, I knew the guys had it in them to finish it off.
"It was scary there for a little bit, I'll have to admit that, but I’m glad the final siren saw us in front."
The Leprechauns had a dream start to the match and found themselves 4-0 up after halfback Jordon Biondi-Odo had dummied, breaking the Brothers' line.
But conceding early stung Brothers into action, and the defending premiers were soon ahead 12-4 thanks to converted tries from five-eighth Shaun Nona and winger Andreas Nona.
Tim Savage dived over in the left corner to bring the Leprechauns back into the contest, but a try to winger Justin Castellaro ensured Brothers went into the sheds with a comfortable 18-8 lead.
Given what Brothers did during the competition rounds, many in the crowd would have expected the minor premiers to go on with the job after the break.
But the Leprechauns showed they were not going to roll over, and captured the lead with 30 minutes left thanks to two inspirational tries from Biondi-Odo.
Trailing by two points, Brothers appeared nervous and started pushing passes and making uncharacteristic errors.
But calm heads prevailed the next time they found themselves in the Leprechauns' 20m zone, with Nona pouncing on a perfectly weighted short kick from halfback Nathan Kepa.
Nona, who was later named man of the match, nailed the conversion and put Brothers 24-20 in front before Anthony Satrick's effort with 13 minutes left doubled their lead.
The Leprechauns were losing touch, but the game didn't become completely out of reach until Romano was given 10 minutes in the bin for a professional foul.
Leprechauns coach Bevan Walker said it was a big call from the referee to sin-bin Romano.
"But that's rugby league," Walker said.
"We had opportunities before that when we were two points ahead to put the game away.
"Probably our last-tackle options let us down near the end and a few boys started playing individually instead of sticking to the structures."
Brothers 46 (Shaun Nona 2, Ben Fitzpatrick 2, Andreas Nona, James Doolah, Justin Castellaro, Anthony Satrick tries; Nona 7 goals) d Innisfail 20 (Jordon Biondi-Odo 3, Tim Savage tries; Topliss 2 goals).
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What a win: A grade premiers Brothers celebrate their second successive title after a courageous 46-20 victory over Innisfail at Barlow Park yesterday to cap off an outstanding CDRL season.