|STINGERS COACH LAUDS TEAM
THE tension around the ground was almost unbearable.
|Townsville STINGERS 201 Mal Meninga Cup Champions
With the state final on the line and next to no time remaining on the clock, Townsville Stingers halfback Sam Foster lined up a difficult penalty kick.
If he kicked it, his team would become the Mal Meninga Cup state champions, and if he missed, they would have to continue their do-or-die battle in sudden death extra time.
Players from both teams watched the ball as it went over the posts, giving the Stingers a 26-24 victory, prompting celebrations from the north Queensland team and breaking the hearts of the valiant Norths Devils.
Stingers coach Todd Wilson said the contest was so close throughout the entire match that he was preparing for the game to enter extra time.
“Sam Foster was under amazing pressure to kick that goal, we were getting ready for golden point, but it went over,” Wilson said. “He focused well, it was fantastic.
“But it was a shame the game came down to a penalty kick in the end.”
The final, played at Langlands Park on Saturday, was almost a replay of last year’s decider – which the Norths Devils won in similar circumstances.
But this was to be the Stingers’ year and their victory saw the team remain undefeated throughout the entire competition.
But they were made to work hard by a Norths Devils team filled with talented performers and a determination to win.
“Both teams did quite well – it was 18-all at half-time,” Wilson said.
“But the boys worked really hard as a team, and I could not be prouder of them. They are an impressive group of kids who just love playing footy.”
Stingers five-eighth Nathan Norford scored two tries in the decider and was also awarded the man of the match award, but Wilson said his entire team stood up to the challenge.
“Through the middle Felise Kaufusi and Chris Grevsmuhl were great and Francis Veukiso gave us a lot of punch, but they all deserve a wrap,” he said.
“In the last two games especially, we went in to those games knowing we all had to be at our best, we don’t really have any game-breakers in the team.
“So it was about each of them knowing their jobs and having belief in themselves.
“We had a few boys who played in both of the finals last year, so I think that they were determined and motivated to go all the way this year.”
League great Mal Meninga was on hand to present the trophy to the Stingers after the match.