Norths Old Boys ‘never give up’ spirit inspires Tigers
EMOTION, respect, extra motivation. They are often recipes for success when the odds are against you.
That was exactly the case for Norths on a massive night of rugby league in Ipswich.
Norths had plenty to celebrate before claiming the biggest scalp of this year's Volunteers Cup competition.
Inflicting the first defeat on the powerhouse Goodna combination made the Tigers' 1980 Grand Slam reunion all the more memorable.
In a remarkable performance, the giant-killing Tigers tamed the Eagles 28-24 at their home field on Saturday night.
A hat-trick by centre Tonga Mounga, including the match-winning try, led Norths to victory.
But it was more than the Tigers incredible defence that ended Goodna's undefeated dominance.
The inspired Norths players had added motivation from multiple sources.
The first was a minute's silence and tribute pre-game to club stalwart and former Reserve Grade coach Garth Heidke.
Both teams paid their respects to a premiership-winning footballer who had shared in Norths' golden era in the 1990s before turning his attention to administration and coaching.
Garth's service to the proud Ipswich club was acknowledged, along with a North Old Boys message to "never give up''.
Norths club president Jason Brennan said that helped inspire the current A-Grade side where all 19 players are former club juniors or who have strong Norths senior team ties.
This year's Tigers combination includes six Norths juniors who have made their top grade debuts this season. Halfback Lachlan Williamson was the latest after earlier opportunities for Luke Self, Ty Humphreys, Ty Marshall, Thomas Reid and Nick Stevensen.
The 1980 Reunion remembered Norths' five Ipswich competition grand final victories - in A Grade, Reserve Grade, C Grade, U18 and U16.
Brennan said adding to that rare Grand Slam triumph was a Norths-Swifts composite team that won a Brisbane under-15 grand final the same year.
As if that feat wasn't enough to ignite the latest Norths team, club Old Boys and supporters also relived the 1995 A-Grade grand final win over Brothers and the victorious 1999 Colts side.
Brennan said Norths clubhouse and ground at Keith Sternberg Oval was overflowing with emotion.
"It was massive. We got a really good response from our Old Boys and the community,'' Brennan said.
"A lot of the guys from 1980 were here, and from '95 and other years.
"To get a win at the end like that, you couldn't have written a script better really.''
Brennan said the support from the Norths Old Boys made a huge difference in such a heavyweight clash.
"If we weren't playing at home or we didn't have that presence of all the Old Boys watching, maybe they wouldn't have got that last little bit of a drive to get over the top of them,'' Brennan said. "I think that's what got them home in the end.
"They got a couple of the Old Boys to have a chat to them before the game . . . and a few of them said after that really kept them out on the field charged up and hang in there and not give up.''
Norths coach Mick Newton was proud of how all the elements came together to claim the mighty scalp of Goodna.
"It was a bit of a feather (in the cap) for us,'' Newton said.
"Goodna are a big, mobile, skilful side and it took some great defence from us to secure them.
"That was an excellent effort from the boys.''
A major feat was keeping the Eagles scoreless in the second half after the competition leaders had been piling on the points amassing 40 plus points a game.
"That was probably the big thing for us,'' Newton said. "The guys just didn't give up.''
Mounga, stand-in captain Anava Fesolai, fullback Self and second rower Kyle Blackman had massive games.
"The older boys stood up and led the younger fellas around the place,'' Newton said.
That was fitting as Norths players past and present united to relive the 1980 feat that most likely will never be emulated.
"It was good to play on our home ground in front of a big crowd on an Old Boys days,'' Newton said.
On Saturday night, club stalwart Jacob Stefan got some game time having been performing water duties in recent weeks.
"He had a good game. It didn't take him too much to get back into the groove,'' Newton said.
The Norths future was also on show with players like Self impressing again and 18-year-old halfback Williamson making his A-Grade debut.
The victory consolidates Norths top two spot with Goodna still leading the series with three games before the semi-finals.
In the other Round 7 Volunteers Cup matches, West End finally ended a losing streak with a 54-14 victory over Gatton.
In the all-Toowoomba battle, Valleys kept pace with the top three, beating Souths 36-14.
The Round 8 matches on Saturday are in Toowoomba as Valleys host their afternoon of quality A-Grade rugby league.
STATE OF PLAY
Norths 28 (Tonga Mounga 3, Kyle Blackman, Anava Fesolai tries Tonga Mounga 3 goals; Luke Self goal) defeated Goodna 24 (Leevai Sutton, Richard Loane, Chris Schwalger, Elone Taufa tries; Bessie Aufaga-Toomaga 4 goals).
West End 54 (Jessie Zampech 3, Rodney Mauga 2, Daniel West-Pes, Classie Oti, Charlie Kaipati, Reece Broadway, Sione Foueti tries, Bernard Mosby 7 goals) defeated Gatton Hawks 14 (Tyson White, Shannon Hicks, Jayden Kirner tries, Dylan Flanagan goal).
Valleys 36 (Junior Chong Nee, Curt Hammond, Todd White, Kamuta Siaosi, Dylan Chown, Hnaloan Budden, Jacob Mouatt tries; Josh Chappell 4 goals) defeated Souths 14 (Ben Howard 2 tries; Jaren Bender tries Alex Dunneman goal).
Team of the week: Luke Self - Norths, Chris Schwalger - Goodna, Bernard Mosby - West End, Tonga Mounga - Norths, Anava Fesolai - Norths, Ritchie Lowe - Norths, Josh Chappell - Valleys, Jacob Whittaker - Souths, Dylan Martin - Norths, Lisite Hafoka - West End, John Maila - Goodna, Kyle Blackman - Norths, Charlie Kaipati - West End, Ben Howard - Souths, Sione Foueti - West End, Dylan Flanagan - Gatton, Gerico Cecil - Norths, Bessie Afaga-Toomaga - Goodna, Lopi Folau - Norths, Leevai Sutton - Goodna.
Player of the match: Ritchie Lowe - Norths.
Ladder: 10 Goodna (100+ differential), 8 Valleys (82+), 8 Norths (12+), 4 West End (24+), 4 Souths (96-), 4 Gatton (122-).
Next games: Saturday at Herb Steinohrt Oval, Toowoomba
1.30pm: Goodna V West End
3.30pm: Souths V Gatton
5.30pm: Valleys V Norths