Triple Crown Sharks
By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
A THIRD consecutive NTL title has been a goal that the South Queensland Sharks had spent 12 months preparing to achieve but with only seven minutes remaining of yesterday's Open Men's final at the BCU International Stadium, it looked like that dream was about to be snatched away from them by the Sydney Mets.
The Mets were leading 6-4 and the South Queensland team looked bereft of ideas when they had the ball in scoring positions.
On the other hand, their Sydney opponents were always looking dangerous. Led by veteran Jason Stanford who was sniffing out opportunities better than a Balinese airport alsation can sniff out a dodgy boogie board bag, it looked like the Sharks era of dominance was about to come to an end.
That was until they produced a comeback better than anything that has been seen since Lazarus.
Touchdowns to Graham Clancey and then to Nathan Jones with only two minutes remaining locked the scores up and sent the match into overtime and the sudden death drop-off situation.
Down to only three players each, a repeat set only five yards from their line spelled doom for a tiring Sydney and all South Queensland needed to do to secure their third consecutive title was wait for the right opportunity to come.
It was merely a case of inevitability when Drumayne Day-Berg-Muir crossed the line to set the Sharks bench off into fits of pandemonium.
For their coach Mark Ruggeri, he was left in awe at his team's refusal to throw in the white towel when the situation was it's bleakest.
"In this match we were down by two for the majority of the game, we were put off our game early when we had a lot of penalties given against us," he said.
"To then come back to within one with only five minutes to go and then level it was a great effort by this team. The team has got absolute determination and commitment and they've been rewarded for it by getting the triple crown of touch. You can call it a hat trick or a three-peat or whatever but it's a triple crown to us, that's what we call it in our hearts."