Tommy and his speedsters revive Ipswich’s Langer Cup hopes
IPSWICH State High's smallest and youngest player injected new life into his team's Langer Cup finals campaign with a stunning hat-trick in this afternoon's crucial 30-12 victory at Logan.
Ipswich's first win of the cut-throat schoolboy rugby league competition against Marsden State High came at just the right time, kickstarting their top four playoff aspirations after three narrow losses.
"I'm just super proud of the boys,'' head coach Josh Bretherton said.
"They worked hard and it's a big pressure release for them. They deserved it.''
But it wasn't only diminutive three-try hero Tommy Lurhman who turned on the brilliance and rewarded the faith of Bretherton in Ipswich's do-or-die triumph.
Co-captains Deijion Leugaimafa and Lachlan Williamson were sensational for different reasons as was Roosters contracted centre Evander Tere-Rongotaua who turned from villain to hero.
After being sin-binned for a late tackle in the first half, former Wellington powerhouse Tere-Rongotaua provided some incredible offloads to spark Ipswich's second half domination.
His work supplying speedster Leugaimafa set up 16-year-old Luhrman twice for tries before the deceptive hooker completed his hat-trick with some smart work close to the line.
Bretherton rates Lurhman one of the most exciting talents in the Langer Cup competition.
He was full of praise for his efforts after watching Luhrman get better as the must-win match progressed.
"His first stint in the game wasn't his best and we were happy with him but he came off a little bit unhappy with himself,'' Bretherton said.
"In the second half, he found that extra space to move and he showed what he can do.''
The Ipswich Diggers under-16 star capitalised on Ipswich's incredible goal line defence and counter attack.
Luhrman positioned himself perfectly to score his treble, making the most of Ipswich's speed out wide that had been threatening in previous games.
Despite some errors at key times, Ipswich displayed tons of tenacity to hang in and eventually showcase its firepower.
Five-eight Mason Pintegne scored Ipswich's first try under the posts after Marsden centre Teapo Stoltman put his side 4-0 up.
Down by two points at the break, Ipswich State High had done enough to keep in the game.
Halfback Williamson was the team's magician with some wonderful kicking - high balls in the blustery conditions that forced Marsden errors.
"I'm just really proud of Lachy,'' the coach said.
"He had a tough week last week when his kicking game was put under pressure by Keebra Park and I thought he just responded this week really, really well . . . and he was very tough in defence.''
Williamson's precision kicking allowed Tere-Rongotaua and Leugaimafa to create space out wide, giving Lurhman the opportunity to seize on through kicks and clever attack after Ipswich had trailed 8-6 at halftime.
"Both of them (Tere-Rongotaua and Leugaimafa) were excellent down that right side in the second half,'' Bretherton said.
"Their work was just big and physical and Deijion just backed himself and took some responsibility for the result.''
Bretherton said Tere-Rongotaua felt down on himself after being sin-binned. He made up for it in the second half after a powerhouse performance against Keebra Park a week earlier.
"His offloads were just excellent,'' the coach said.
Despite some early second half line drop-out mistakes, Ipswich dug in for the fight.
Bretherton acknowledged all his forwards including comeback prop Shane Tolova'A who was "really big and strong and physical'' and another dependable bench player Ilai Tula.
"They did a really good job, particularly when we were down to 12,'' Bretherton said.
"We had to win a tough game of football. We worked really hard in that first half.
"And it was important that we learnt how to play tough football and then get the result on the back of earning it.''
With renewed final hopes after all seemed lost, Ipswich State High can refocus on tackling Wavell in next Wednesday's match at the North Ipswich Reserve.
In today's earlier Walters Cup clash, Ipswich State High set themselves up for a first win of the season leading 12-8 at halftime.
However, home side Marsden lifted after the break to secure a 24-18 win in the blustery conditions.
LANGER CUP RD 4: Ipswich State High 30 (Tommy Luhrman 3, Mason Pintegne, Evander Tere-Rongotaua tries; Lachlan Williamson five goals) def Marsden State High 12 (Teapo Stoltman, Kienan Tempest, Lance Fualema tries) at Logan.