Goodna captain Ramon Filipine provides support as his teammate drives back the West End attack in the Rugby League Ipswich Volunteers Cup semi-final. Picture: Bruce Clayton
Goodna captain Ramon Filipine provides support as his teammate drives back the West End attack in the Rugby League Ipswich Volunteers Cup semi-final. Picture: Bruce Clayton

Eagles speedster hopes to ice birthday with final glory

AFTER contributing two valuable tries, Goodna teenager Elone Taufa has a birthday wish - celebrating his first senior grand final victory.

He turns 19 next weekend as the high-flying Eagles look to complete a magnificent Volunteers Cup series with victory over Norths.

Taufa was icing a sore right hamstring after sharing in Goodna's 38-12 semi-final win over the West End Bulldogs on Saturday night.

Having been a Goodna junior moving up the ranks, the former Ipswich State High School student is eager to be part of this year's all-conquering Eagles outfit.

"It's my birthday next week so hopefully I can get a final win,'' he said.

Goodna Eagles tryscorer Elone Taufa. Picture: Bruce Clayton
Goodna Eagles tryscorer Elone Taufa. Picture: Bruce Clayton

With just one loss from 11 games, the Eagles are almost unbackable favourites to win the inaugural title from the series played between Ipswich and Toowoomba competition sides.

Goodna face Norths on Saturday after the Tigers disposed of Toowoomba champions Valleys 40-12 in the earlier semi-final at the North Ipswich Reserve.

In a team promoting youth talent, Taufa has been one of the exciting club products gaining valuable A-Grade experience.

"It was fun,'' Taufa said of the semi-final victory.

"I didn't get to play the whole game but it was good to finish with a win.''

Taufa said it would have been disappointing for Goodna to fall a match short of the title decider after all the effort.

"We've worked really hard all the boys so it's good to get a good result and make the grand final,'' he said.

Action from the Rugby League Ipswich Volunteers Cup semi-final between Goodna Eagles and West End Bulldogs. Picture: Bruce Clayton
Action from the Rugby League Ipswich Volunteers Cup semi-final between Goodna Eagles and West End Bulldogs. Picture: Bruce Clayton

Taufa said the combination of senior players and youthful willingness to learn was behind Goodna's success so far.

"The old boys - Ramon (Filipine), Kaustio (Magele) and Bess (Bessie Aufaga-Toomaga), they all help a lot,'' Taufa said.

"I was a bit nervous in the first half. It was a tight game but the boys pulled off a good win.''

Having started with Goodna in under-14, Taufu enjoys the club's development culture.

"Hopefully I can play a bit more here. It's a good vibe to be around the boys,'' he said.

"All my friends play at Goodna so it's a good bond to have.

"Most of the young boys I played with at school and club so it's good to come back and have another year with them.''

Taufu was also part of the highly regarded Ipswich State High Langer Cup program.

West End’s Jesse Zampech puts a diving tackle on Goodna’s Mika Iakopo in their Volunteers Cup semi-final clash at the North Ipswich Reserve. Picture: Bruce Clayton
West End’s Jesse Zampech puts a diving tackle on Goodna’s Mika Iakopo in their Volunteers Cup semi-final clash at the North Ipswich Reserve. Picture: Bruce Clayton

In Saturday night's semi-final, Goodna led 22-8 at halftime after the Bulldogs briefly held the advantage 8-6.

The Eagles stepped up the intensity and their trademark attacking flair in the second half to quickly secure command of the game.

Other tryscorers after the break were Fa'at'ape Timai and Christopher Schwalger, building on the early finishing work of Taufa, Faauli Malaesilia and John Schwalger.

Fullback Bessie Aufaga-Toomaga was in everything as usual, being unselfish in his passing close to the tryline and even giving up his goalkicking late in the game.

Goodna interchange player John Schwalger dives through to score in the semi-final. Picture: Bruce Clayton
Goodna interchange player John Schwalger dives through to score in the semi-final. Picture: Bruce Clayton

For the Bulldogs, halfback Regan Wilde tried to keep the attack moving. However, Goodna's defensive wall held tight, denying West End any miracle semi-final victory after being competitive during the series but regularly failing to get the job done.

West End regulars Jesse Zampech, Israel Oti and Isi Hafoka also toiled hard against an opponent setting the standard this season.

As for Taufa's post-game ice treatment, the young gun was keen to back up in Saturday's main clash.

"I should be right if I do the right things,'' he said.

Even in a dangerous Goodna outfit, his youthful speed would be most welcome to cap a wonderful season.

Volunteers Cup semi-final: Goodna Eagles 38 (Elone Taufa 2, Faauli Malaesilia, John Schwalger, Fa'at'ape Timai, Christopher Schwalger, Ben Niumata tries; Bessie Aufaga Toomaga four, Leevai Sutton goals) def West End Bulldogs 12 (Classie Oti, Harold Mosby, Liga Nonoa-Hansell tries).

Grand final (3pm, Saturday) at North Ipswich Reserve: Goodna Eagles v Norths Tigers.