HIS ankle may have been sore and swollen but it was tears of joy Emerald Tigers under-18 captain Joe Taylor was shedding, not tears of pain.
His beloved Tigers raced home in the closing minutes of their Central Highlands under-18 grand final against Blackwater to win 50-30 in Springsure at the weekend.
“It’s the best feeling in the world,” young Joe boasted after the game.
“That’s two in a row.”
Despite trailing by just two points at half-time, Joe said he and his Tigers’ team-mates knew the real battle was yet to come.
“(The coach said) stick with the structure and the tries would come our way as we had planned,” Joe said.
“We focused on shutting the play down and controlling the ball.
“Blackwater had beat us before and gave us a bit of a touch up - we knew we had to turn it on.”
Then 10 minutes into the second-half their leader, Joe, rolled his ankle and was forced to the bench.
Courageously he returned later in the match, celebrating victory alongside some of his closest mates.
“I think it’s just badly sprained.”
Blackwater coach Peter Bass was left gutted to have his side’s lead snatched from beneath them.
With less than 15 minutes remaining the Tigers ran rampant over a weary Blackwater side out on its last legs.
“Fatigue got us in the end.We defended 18 tackles on our own line, they had no energy left and couldn’t recover from it. We were so close but so far.”
However simply making the final at all was an achievement in itself for the Crushers, who rallied from fourth position on the competition ladder to come within a sniff of a premiership.
Coach Bass said his charges were by no means disappointing.
“They left nothing on the field, they gave it their all and I was proud of every one of them,” he said.
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