RUGBY LEAGUE: Rod Peckett has hailed Rockhampton Grammar's First XIII the best team he has ever coached after it claimed its maiden Rockhampton District Secondary Schools Rugby League open title.
Its hard-fought 18-14 win over The Cathedral College at Browne Park capped an impressive year for the team, which also won the prestigious Confraternity Carnival and the GIO Trophy state final.
"It's a fantastic way to finish the season," a jubilant Peckett said after Saturday's win.
"I've been coaching schoolboys football for 27 years and this is the best side I've coached.
"And it's not just about their football ability; it's about the sort of men they are off the field.
"They're an outstanding group of young men and that's just as important for us."
Peckett and his players knew TCC would come out firing and they did, scoring the first try of the game.
Both teams then battled for ascendency and the lead changed several times.
The see-sawing contest kept the enthusiastic crowd entertained and TCC took a 14-12 lead in the second half when Tom Farr ran in a long-distance try out wide.
Grammar hit back, halfback Blake Moore crossing for what was to be the match-winning try minutes later.
Peckett was impressed at the way his players kept their cool, sticking to the processes that had worked for them all year.
"There would have been times in years past where Grammar sides would have folded under that sort of pressure but we've played a lot of hard football this year... so that probably held us in pretty good stead at the end there," he said.
"The really good thing about this side is we've got good leadership. We've got three or four boys in the middle there who've all played at a fairly high level so there was no panic there.
"They knew what they needed to do to get back into the game or at least to start to control the game again.
"I think the boys have been mentally tough and I think they've been really physically tough as well.
"It was hard but I think it was probably the way a grand final should be - tough right down to the end, not knowing who was going to win."
Captain Lachlan Scarpelli, whose tireless defensive effort in the middle was instrumental in Grammar's victory, was thrilled to be part of Grammar's monumental win.
"It's fantastic we got the win and undefeated just makes it even better. It's so good to be able to come back in 10 years time and everyone remembers the win over TCC at Browne Park so I can't wait," he said.
Scarpelli attributed the team's phenomenal success to the players' unwavering commitment.
"This group of boys is amazing. Being as committed as we have is what's done it. Everyone being on the same page, wanting the same thing, it's just made it so much easier," he said.