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On Monday 14th August, the Roma State College Open Rugby League team travelled to Wynnum to contest the Southern QLD final of the GIO Trophy*. After arriving in Brisbane the night before the game, the team was well positioned for their showdown with Ipswich SHS 2nd XIII with the winner of the match going onto face Confraternity Carnival champions, The Rockhampton Grammar School.
After victories over the Darling Downs (Toowoomba SHS) and Sunshine Coast (Tullawong SHS) champions in previous weeks, the side knew they would need to lift again if they were to record a monumental win against the Metropolitan champs. After a very physical and fast opening exchange, Ipswich SHS lead 8-6 at Half Time with the Roma side showing great determination to be only down by 2 after defending their line for numerous repeat sets throughout the first stanza. A 90m intercept to Maverick Fisher allowed the visitors to notch up some points on the score board and earn a much needed break.
An injury just before Half Time to promising lock Tanar Rivers only made the job harder for fellow middle players Jye Johnson and Harvey Wright. However, the pair responded the only way they know how continually carting the ball up into a defensive line that clearly contained players that were much stronger and physical. In a remarkable effort, both players pushed past the pain barrier playing the whole 30 minute second half. With the loss of Rivers in the lock forward position, a re-shuffle brought left centre Jackson Nicholls into the middle of the field. On top of his excellent defence and work rate in the first half, Nicholls kicked things up a gear again with his blistering speed and footwork troubling his bigger opponents around the ruck.
Of the back of some hard work through the middle, halves Tom Eddie and Ben York were given space and time to shift the ball which resulted in a try each as well as a 4 pointer to Joel Ramage. Over the course of the match, Eddie converted 3 from 4 to keep Roma State College in the hunt. In a disappointing finish to the outing, the Roma side went from leading 16-14 with 13 minutes remaining to finish just off the pace going down 24-22 in a remarkable showing of effort, attitude and resilience. Although it was shattering to finish so close to being in the state final, it was extremely difficult to be disappointed considering the amazing effort by the group with some students playing their 4th game of football in 13 days. Overall, 3rd out of 98 schools is a brilliant effort.
Jackson Nicholls was later judged Player’s Player with Jye Johnson, Harvey Wright and Tom Eddie also polling votes. A massive thanks must go to Mal McMillan and Craig Nebe for their assistance in training and managing the side over the course of the year.
Will Clarke
The GIO Trophy is a second tier competition open to any schools not participating in the Langer Cup, Gee Shield and Aaron Payne Cup (Premier Schoolboy Rugby League competitions in QLD). The tournament provides an outstanding participation pathway for schools across the country to play the greatest game of all. The concept is in its first year with 98 schools applying to participate.