The Braidwood Junior Redbacks capped off their most successful season yet with wins in all four age groups in Goulburn last Friday evening.
In particular, the Redbacks Under 12s side took out the 2017 Premiership with a heart stopping game against the courageous Goulburn Chiefs.
Finishing as Minor Premiers, the Redbacks U12s took great self-belief into the Grand Final. But the Chiefs were also confident, having defeated the Redbacks twice already this season. Out of their four previous clashes the Redbacks and Chiefs were two wins each.
From the kick-off the Chiefs immediately gained possession and controlled the ball well, as they grafted towards the Redbacks try line. Stoic defence kept the Chiefs scoreless for the first 10 minutes until a handling error was pounced on by the Redbacks. Some strong rucking from James Flack and Josh Clark set up the play before the ball was passed out the backline to champion Centre, Danny Riley, who stepped, weaved and palmed his way through the Chiefs defence and ran 75 metres to score under the posts for the first try of the game.
Conversion successful – Redbacks 7-nil.
The Chiefs hit back a couple of minutes later with a try in the corner. Conversion was unsuccessful, leaving the scores at 7-5.
This became the pattern of the game: sustained pressure by the Chiefs, matched with stoic defence by the Redbacks, especially Alice Tooth and Sammy Watson, followed by a mistake from the Chiefs. With the Redbacks loose forwards, Leroy Campbell-Davys and Harry Waters, leading the way up the middle, the ball once again made its way out to the backs, this time to the pacey Luke McGrath, who outflanked and out-paced the Chiefs defence to run 70 metres and score under the posts. Conversion was successful, making the score 14-5 to the Redbacks.
Again the Chiefs came back at the Redbacks, keeping the ball in tight, rucking and mauling with great skill, causing the Redbacks to fall foul of the ref’s whistle. Eventually the relentless pressure took its toll and the Chiefs scored under the posts. Conversion was successful, leaving scores of 14-12 to the Redbacks.
With the first half drawing to a close, the Chiefs quickly found their way back to the Redbacks line and pummelled them with raid after raid. The half had gone four minutes over time before the Redbacks line was finally breached again out wide. Conversion was unsuccessful, and the half-time score 17-14 to the Chiefs.
The second half was a carbon copy of the first, as the Chiefs set up their base camp on Braidwood’s try line. Despite being starved of possession every Redback player tackled strongly and pressured the opposition - Harrison Wall and Lachie Hindmarsh in the middle, Arna Dixon and Chloe Shoemark out wide. Eventually the Redbacks forced the error, which was pounced on, set up and fed through the backs to Danny, who again stepped, weaved and palmed his way 90 metres to score under the posts. Conversion was successful, and the Redbacks were back in front, with scores of 21-17.
Despite the relentless pressure, the Redbacks held the Chiefs scoreless in the second half until the dying minutes. Through sheer weight of possession the Chiefs finally went over in the corner 90 seconds until full-time. Conversion was successful, leaving the Chiefs at 24, the Redbacks at 21.
With the game all but gone, the Redbacks had to regain the ball from the kick-off. Captain Robbie Watson, put in a short kick which was regathered by Abe Riley, who set up the ruck close to the eastern touchline. In a blur of excitement, the Redback forwards cleaned out better than they had all season, and in a crisp backline move that went from halfback Fergus Tooth, through Leroy Campbell-Davys and Robbie Watson, the ball found the hands of the Chiefs worst nightmare: Danny Riley.
With a clear run to the far corner, Danny pinned back his ears and crossed the line right on the final whistle. The Redbacks won the 2017 premiership 28-24 victory in an absolute show stopper!