West leads Tigers to second successive A-grade title
NORTHS have proven they are no one-hit wonders, claiming a second successive Ipswich Rugby League A- grade premiership title.
Norths held on against an inspired Brothers to win 24-22 at the North Ipswich Reserve yesterday.
The match was nothing like last year's decider between the two teams, which was won by Norths 42-16.
This time the Tigers led for most of the match but couldn't shake their tenacious opponents until the siren sounded with Norths hanging on grimly at the end.
None were better than Norths halfback Steven West, who added the man-of-the-match award to his A-grade Player-of-the-Year honour.
West's inclusion was one of five changes from last year's grand final-winning team and the Tigers wouldn't have got home without his leadership.
From the opening kick West was heavily targeted by the Brothers defenders.
He was repeatedly taken out after he had kicked or passed the ball.
It didn't always work for Brothers however, such is West's skills, courage under fire and persistence he kept getting back up and putting the pressure back on Brothers.
In the dying minutes he was still the man pinning Brothers deep, chasing his own kicks and making the tackle.
"I'm sore," he said after the game.
"We knew they were going to target me. But I always try to make sure I'm leading the chase when I kick the ball."
For West it more than made up for missing last year's grand final through injury.
"I don't think words can describe," West said of the winning feeling. "Watching last year was one thing. But this year to be a part of it is probably the best thing that has happened."
West said he wasn't surprised Brothers made it so hard for the Tigers, with Norths expecting to have to fight until the final second of the match.
"Every time they play the whole 80 minutes," he said.
"You can't take your foot off the pedal as they showed when they nearly scored at full-time. But our scramble defence was pretty good.
"We just step up for each other."
For Brothers, none gave more than skipper Jack Boettcher, who threw his body into the contest in attack and defence, scoring the try that got Brothers to within two points with less than 10 minutes remaining.
Boettcher was driven to atone for last year's one-sided grand final loss and he more than achieved that with this underrated Brothers side going so close to claiming a premiership few thought possible only a month or two ago.
It was no consolation to Boettcher however, who was too emotional to say much after the game. He said it felt worse this time around because Brothers had gone so close.
"You were too good today and thoroughly deserve the premiership," he graciously told the Norths contingent after the match.
A grade grand final: Norths 24 (Matthew Bettiens 2, Anava Fesolai, Josh Roberts tries; Steven West 4 goals) def Brothers 22 (Tasi Graff, Shaun Daylight, Aaron Bennett, Jack Boettcher tries; Josh Leisemann 3 goals).