They’ve been coming for them all season and, in the one game that matters, the Forbes Platypi finally got their man.
Forbes has stunned two-time defending Blowes Clothing Cup champions Orange Emus, securing the 2017 premiership with a stirring 28-20 victory at Endeavour Oval on Saturday.
Emus, the undefeated minor premiers, failed to make the most of a first-half gale at their backs and trailed 13-10 at the break.
Emus hit back to lead 17-13 after newly crowned Blowes Clothing Cup player of the year Andrew Selwood scored for the hosts, and it looked like the Platypi would have their own worries with the wind at their backs in the second period.
But a phenomenal display of kicking from Forbes halfback Mahe Fangupo helped his side over the line, Matt Coles scoring first before the mercurial Fangupo crossed for what turned out to be the match-winning try.
Nigel Staniforth hit a penalty goal in the last 10 minutes to edge his side within striking distance at 25-20, but the Platypi was never going to let Staniforth kick his side out of trouble this time.
Not with everything on the line, Brockmann kicking his own three-pointer late before the Platypi held firm with the ball late to secure the title.
“It’s absolutely incredible. It’s a fairy tale,” Forbes skipper Jack Hammond said, his club celebrating its first top grade premiership since 2003.
“The way we came over here, we knew they were going to be the best they’ve been all year and to do what we have, words can’t describe.”
Platypi coach Hare Lavaka has experienced premiership success before with the Parkes Boars in 2011, but nothing like this triumph with Forbes.
“To be honest, I thought it was about three minutes to go,” he laughed
“I look around and the ref blows his whistle ... and I was just lost for words.
“This year has been a learning experience after last year. We’re not here because we didn’t do much. We believed it what we were going to do, we knew we were going to peak at the right time and we showed that today.”
Forbes stormed out of the gates and should have scored through Henry Willis inside the opening 90 seconds, only for the Platypi winger to lose his footing near the line, falling short.
He retained possession, though, and a few phases later Jarrod Hall scored for the first points of the grand final, scoring under the posts.
Brockmann kicked true and the visitors shot to 7-0 lead after two minutes.
As stunned as the hosts looked, the early Forbes onslaught seemed to kick Emus into gear.
Staniforth landed his first penalty goal on five minutes before scoring a try of his own and then adding the extras to secure a 10-7 lead after 12 minutes.
Ball retention from both teams throughout the whole grand final was first class.
And early on it was Emus that had the better running, and normally would have converted that significant time in possession into more points if it weren’t for Forbes’ defence.
It was brilliant.
The blue-and-white wall defied one Scott McLean raid earlier in the half, before repelling a wave of Emus pick-and-drives nearing the end of the first 40 minutes.
After then winning the ball back, Forbes was piggie-backed up field enabling Brockmann to land a penalty goal right on half-time.
The 13-10 lead Forbes held at the break defied the 10-point wind Hammond’s men ran into during the opening half.
And it proved telling.
Although Selwood was able to edge the minor premiers back in front just after half-time with a strong charge to the line, Emus couldn’t match Forbes’ enthusiasm at the break-down.
Forbes scored nine minutes into the second period through No.8 Matt Coles to snatch an 18-17 lead before Fangupo darted over to extend the buffer to eight points, with 17 minutes remaining.
Staniforth and Brockmann then traded penalty goals as the Platypi rallied to secure a 28-20 win and the club’s first premiership in 14 seasons.
“The wind played a massive part in it and we used it better,” Hammond said.
“We held the ball, our forwards, we kept coming forward and they couldn’t stop us.
“We knew it was a 10-point wind, so to be up (at half-time) was great.
“It’s just special for the club. There was a big occasion that year (in 2003) and now 14 years to the day we’ve won another premiership. It means everything to us.”
- FORBES PLATYPI 28 (Jarrod Hall, Matt Coles, Mahe Fangupo tries; Nedd Brockmann 3 pen goals, 2 conv) def ORANGE EMUS 20 (Andrew Selwood, Nigel Staniforth try; Nigel Staniforth 2 pen goals, 2 conv)