Arrive Alive Cup QLD Final


KEEBRA Park will represent Queensland in the final four of the Arrive Alive Cup national schoolboys competition, after defeating St Brendan?s Yeppoon 18-4 at Browne Park, Rockhampton.

Runner-up to Endeavour College in the national final last year, Keebra looked in ominous form, brushing aside their David Taylor-led opposition in the 2006 State final.

With a bumper crowd of 2500 watching on, the Gold Coasters booked a spot in the September 1 national semi at Dairy Farmers Stadium, where they will face either St Dominic?s Penrith or St Gregory?s Campbelltown.

Keebra got the jump just four minutes into the match when fullback Matt Parata pushed his way across for a converted try, edging further ahead with a try to centre Kingi Akaoula seven minutes before halftime.

While the two teams were evenly matched in most respects, Keebra were technically finer, working their channels, suffocating St Brendan?s in defence and completing sets with greater precision.

In a match sure to provide several NRL and Wizard Cup stars of the future, the opening was ferocious.

While the pre-game focus rested on Brisbane Broncos rookie Taylor, front row partner Guy Ford took the first hit-up of the match and fearlessly charged forward.

Indeed, at various stages Ford and industrious hooker Graham Thomas threatened to take the limelight from their more credentialed teammate with dangerous running.

Truth be told though, Taylor was never far from the action.

He took three hit-ups in little more than a minute of the game, making one half-burst as sections of the crowd yelled ?Coal Train? at full voice.

Over the course of the game he showed his booming downtown punt, threw cut-out passes 30m and charged down opposition kicks.

In one remarkable piece the hulking teen even broke from the front row of a scrum, caught the opposition lock and stripped the ball one-on-one.

Understandably Keebra watched him closely. His offloads were difficult to combat, however the visitors had success containing him in most other facets.

Whenever Keebra swung the ball wide they looked dangerous and five-eighth Robert Lui kept the defence constantly guessing with a mix of running and passing.

At 10-0 ahead, the southerners were unlucky not to extend their lead two minutes into the second half when centre Akaoula was held up on the fringes.

Not long after hooker Jimmy Poland made a 50m bust upfield, only to lose the ball when met by St Brendan?s custodian Cody Gray.

As the game hung in the balance St Brendan?s also missed their own opportunities. Ben Hunt was held up over the line on one occasion, while winger Cameron Steel was unlucky not to cross after a great spiral pass from Taylor.

With the crowd packing out most grandstands and Leagues Club balconies overflowing, there was a tense atmosphere for the final 20 minutes.

Even guests at a wedding upstairs in the adjoining clubhouse found the match enticing enough to wander outside indroves.

Their chants could not lift St Brendan?s however and Keebra Park struck with two daggers in just four minutes.

The first came when Man of the Match Orlando Wihongi-Seia showed wonderful footwork for a backrower, bamboozling a handful of defenders from short-range.

Benchman Brett Thomas followed up by finishing a longer movement, taking the ball inside after a teammate was ankle-tapped inches short of the line.

At 18-0 it was all over bar the shouting, the Queensland championship claimed by Greg Lenton?s men for yet another year.

Justly capping an entertaining campaign, St Brendan?s earned a late consolation try to captain Nic Deaves.

Despite their loss, the Yeppoon players were still flooded by supporters after the game, joining them for a rendition of the school chant.

KEEBRA PARK SHS 18 (Kingi Akaoula, Matt Parata, Orlando Wihongi-Seia, Brett Thomas tries; Matt Parata goal) d ST BRENDAN?S YEPPOON 4 (Nic Deaves try).