CHAMPIONS: The Emu Park Emus men celebrate their maiden title win in the Schwarz Excavations Nines.
CHAMPIONS: The Emu Park Emus men celebrate their maiden title win in the Schwarz Excavations Nines. ALLAN REINIKKA

GALLERY: Epic clashes in semis, finals at Nines carnival

RUGBY LEAGUE: The Emu Park Emus have taken out the double at the Schwarz Excavations Nines in Rockhampton.

The men claimed their maiden title with a 15-7 grand final win over three-time champions Yeppoon, while the women continued their dominance of the event with a 22-nil win over the Blackwater Crushettes.

 

Little separated the combatants in the carnival's two other grand finals.

Central Highlands scored in the last minute of the game to beat Norths 13-12 in the under-20s, while St Brendan's College Old Boys defeated Fitzroy-Gracemere in the men's second division by the same margin.

Nines organiser Walson Carlos said spectators at Browne Park were treated to some fantastic footy over the two days, which culminated in some epic clashes in the semis and the grand finals.

 

9's U/20 final, CH's James Chaplin.
9's U/20 final, CH's James Chaplin. Allan Reinikka ROK030318anines8

Emu Park coach Jason Field said it was a memorable day for the club but the men's victory was particularly sweet.

"It's truly exciting being the first major trophy that we've won in the A-grade competition," he said.

"We expected a very tough game and to our credit our boys just stuck in there.

"All the boys across the park stood up. They all did their jobs and I think that's what got us across the line, we just played as a team.

"We came to play for the trophy and to take the title and I think that's why the boys were so spirited."

When Yeppoon opened its account three minutes into the grand final, many pundits were tipping the champion outfit was on its way to a Nines four-peat.

 

Action from the men's first division final between the Emu Park Emus and the Yeppoon Seagulls.
Action from the men's first division final between the Emu Park Emus and the Yeppoon Seagulls. ALLAN REINIKKA

But the Emus were on the board soon after courtesy of the dynamic Malcolm Darkin, who chased down a perfectly weighted kick to have them within two, and they snatched the lead with a bonus-point try two minutes before half-time.

The Emus defence was a feature of the victory.

They repelled countless raids from Yeppoon in the second half, many of them orchestrated by former Capras halfback Matt Minto.

They quickly switched from defence to attack to put Milton Freeman over with two minutes to go to seal the win.

The Emus' Gabriel Hamson was named player of the carnival and was a little taken aback to receive the individual honour.

"I didn't expect that at all," he said.

"It feels good to get this win and I'm really proud of all the boys. I didn't think we were going to get it after our first loss but the boys stuck to it all the way and we got the win."

 

The victorious Emu Park Emus women after their commanding grand final win over the Blackwater Crushettes.
The victorious Emu Park Emus women after their commanding grand final win over the Blackwater Crushettes. ALLAN REINIKKA

Emu Park's Tamika Upton confirmed her selection as women's player of the carnival with two long-range tries in the grand final.

The first half of the women's grand final was an arm wrestle before Emus star Sarah Field broke the deadlock with a bonus try to give her team a 7-nil lead at half-time.

In the second half, it was one-way traffic as the Emus stamped their authority to score three unanswered tries, including Upton's impressive double.

The Emus went through undefeated and Upton said the team set the tone for the carnival with a commanding 43-point win.

"It's pretty good to come back every year and play with these girls," she said.

"It's my first player of the carnival award so it's pretty special."

NINES RESULTS

  • Schwarz Excavations Men's First Division: Emu Park Emus def Yeppoon Seagulls 15-7; player of carnival Gabriel Hamson
  • Social and Digital Women's Challenge: Emu Park Emus Red def Blackwater Crushettes 18-nil; player of the carnival Tamika Upton (Emu Park)
  • Triple M Men's Second Division: St Brendan's College Old Boys def Fitzroy-Gracemere 12-11; player of the carnival Morris Pickering (Fitzroy-Gracemere)
  • NG Engraving Under- 20s: Central Highlands def Norths 13-12; player of the carnival Sam Cronk (Central Highlands)


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