By Patrick Woods
The West Belconnen Warriors have fought their way back from a 4-6 halftime deficit to win the inaugural West Belconnen Warriors Nines tournament, beating the Tuggeranong Bushrangers 16-10 in the final at Raiders Belconnen.
The Warriors struggled to maintain possession in the first half, only completing one of their five sets, but found themselves trailing by just two points at half-time thanks to a burrowing try to Ricky Fulivai from dummy half.
West Belconnen’s Harry Brown scored the match winner under the posts with just minutes to play, sealing the victory for the hosts in a tight affair after they breezed through their semi-final against an Albury side featuring Adrian Purtell and Joel Monaghan.
Despite the lack of completions in the first half, Brown said that even with his team behind by a converted try with five minutes to go, they just needed to hold possession and maintain pressure, knowing they had the fitness to play out close games.
“Pre-season has been really good, I think that probably helped us today, we’ve been doing a lot of fitness,” Brown said.
Tuggeranong Bushrangers were up for the clash, denying Ryan McQueen a try in the first minute after he beat three defenders and charged over the try line but couldn’t hang on to the ball.
A 40/20 by playmaker Sean Fisher allowed the Bushrangers to set up in attack and not long afterwards Jack Heyman opened the scoring, running from dummy half and carrying defenders with him over the line before planting the ball down just to the right of the goalposts.
West Belconnen hit back minutes later through Ricky Fulivai, closing the lead to two points, but were lucky to hold that score into halftime after they gifted the Bushrangers a great attacking opportunity by kicking the ensuing kick-off out on the full.
Finding themselves six points down again with five minutes to play, the Warriors levelled the scores through Nela Moa when the rampaging forward stormed through four defenders.
With the scores level, a repeat set for the Warriors allowed Harry Brown to seal the game under the posts.
West Belconnen President Steve Kirby said the tournament was a success, with next year set to be even bigger.
“Yeah, we’re really happy with it,” Kirby said after the final. “The tournament ran smoothly, everyone I’ve spoken to has really raved about it and are keen to come back next year so that’s all we can ask for.”