How Yeppoon pulled off thrilling grand final comeback
RUGBY LEAGUE: "It's the best feeling I've ever had.”
That was how jubilant skipper Sam Holzheimer summed up the emotion after Yeppoon's gripping A-grade grand final win over Norths.
It was a fitting reward for the Seagulls, who were the benchmark of the 2019 competition.
They went through the regular season unbeaten and dropped just one game, the first semi-final against Norths.
Revenge was sweet as they reversed that result in Saturday's big dance, scoring a 28-18 come-from-behind victory.
Holzheimer said it was even more special given Yeppoon was beaten in a boil-over by Rockhampton Brothers in last year's grand final.
"That's unreal, especially after last year,” he said.
"You can't beat it.
"We knew it was going to be really tough, that first 20 minutes in both halves like it was in the semi, because they've got big bodies.
"We just had to make sure we stuck in there and we did. The boys really stood up and got the chocolates and it's the best feeling I've ever had.”
Norths got off to a flying start to lead 12-nil midway through the first half.
Skipper Mitchel Smith latched on to an intercept and ran about 70m to score the first try in the 15th minute, and hard-working forward Josh Johnston added to the tally five minutes later.
Yeppoon got one back, fullback Brady Mckenna scoring in the 28th minute to narrow the margin to six points.
That scoreline remained 12-6 at the half-time break but six minutes into the second half the teams were on level pegging when Yeppoon's Patrick Busby scored.
Norths edged in front again when Ryan Franks, who was backing up from the under-20 grand final, crashed over 10 minutes later.
But from there, the momentum dramatically shifted in Yeppoon's favour.
Norths struggled to get out of their end as the fast-finishing Seagulls piled on the pressure.
They ran in three tries in the last 15 minutes to seal the win and lift the trophy.
Yeppoon coach Shaun Goode, who is in his first year as A-grade coach, said it was a rewarding win.
"I always thought it would be a tight game but was confident that at the back end we would come home on pure fitness.
"We stuck in there, we were patient, we got in the grind, our kicks were very good, our completions were good but our line speed tonight for 80 minutes was fantastic.”
Goode was not prepared to single out any one player as a stand-out, instead saying it was a "team achievement”.
He reminded his players in a rousing half-time talk about how hard they had worked since their pre-season started in November.
"I told them that life's made up of opportunities, either you take them or you don't,” he said.
"This is your opportunity to go back out there and make a memory that you can take with you for the rest of your life.”