Wests Tigers celebrate a try against Magpies.
Wests Tigers celebrate a try against Magpies. Nick Wright

TOP 10: Moments that shaped Rugby League Mackay season

WE CALL them sliding doors moments.

Those periods in a season, weekend, game, half or final five minutes of a match which ultimately prove the difference between success and sorrow.

After 14 rounds of Rugby League Mackay A-Grade action, we took a look back at the 2019 regular season and hand-picked the most pivotal matches which we believe contributed to the biggest storylines - whether those matches shaped the make-up of the finals placings or affected the confidence, good and bad, of the sides involved.

Round 1 (April 28) - Souths 22 def. Magpies 20 at Sologinkin Oval

THE Sharks and Magpies produced an instant classic to open the 2019 A-Grade season.

With eight minutes to play and down by four points, Souths appeared to have hit a wall.

Enter the golden boot of new recruit Shannon Rupapere, whose penalty conversion attempt bounced off the inside of the left-hand upright, crossed over the black dot and brought the Sharks back within two points.

Minutes later former Magpies favourite Jardine Bobongie shot a dagger through the heart of home fans when he put Jahleel Doolah through to score.

Souths took a last-minute lead and first round win courtesy of an inch-perfect kick from Rupapere and Bobongie's quick thinknig from dummy half.

READ MORE: Souths bite back in game of inches

 

Souths' Leroy Broughton is dumped on his head by a trio of Magpies defenders.
Souths' Leroy Broughton is dumped on his head by a trio of Magpies defenders. Callum Dick

Round 2 (May 11) - Whitsunday 24 def. Wests 14 at Les Stagg Oval

WHO could possibly topple the reigning premiers?

It was the question on everyone's lips entering the 2019 season, after Wests' dominance eight months earlier took the Tigers to a first A-Grade premiership in more than 30 years.

Well, it took just two rounds for the Brahmans to answer that question - emphatically.

After seeing off Brothers the week before in a bruising encounter under storm clouds, Whitsunday proved their premiership credentials against the Tigers.

Tye Ingebrigtsen's men shot out to an early 16-0 lead, then held on when the inevitable Tiger comeback started, in a major early-season marker of the Brahmans' quality.

Wests coach Craig Menkins said the early road defeat was "a wake-up call, no doubt about that"

Whitsunday returned home to Les Stagg Oval a week later and outlasted Souths 12-10 - further proof the Brahmans would be a force to be reckoned with in 2019.

READ MORE: Premiers' brakes pumped by Brahmans

Round 5 (June 1) - Wests 15 def. Brothers 14 at Leprechaun Park

SIGNIFICANT not because it was the closest margin of victory for the season, or because Nicholas Baker became the first and only player in the competition to sink a field goal; Wests' one-point win over Brothers kept the reigning premiers above water.

It may have only been Round 5 but momentum is a fickle thing, particularly in such a short season.

If Baker's kick went wide and Brothers had gone on to win, Craig Menkins' men would have moved to 2-3 ahead of what loomed as a tough encounter with the 4-1 Sharks in Round 6.

Back-to-back defeats to Magpies and Brothers could quickly have snowballed; instead the Tigers righted the ship and dropped just one match for the remainder of the season.

For Brothers it was a case of what might have been. After their 44-point drubbing at the hands of Souths in Round 2, Nick Swan's men would have taken great confidence in their performance even in defeat.

But two points would have been even sweeter.

Round 6 (June 9) - Magpies 24 def. Brahmans 20 at Sologinkin Oval

WHITSUNDAY lost just two games on the 14-week calendar and their first came in Round 6 away to Magpies.

Steve Jackson's men came from behind in the second half at Sologinkin Oval to hand the Brahmans their first blemish of the 2019 season but more importantly, instil a heap of confidence in the Magpies group.

Magpies converted a penalty late-on to extend the margin to four points, but surrendered a short kick-off on the ensuing restart to give the Brahmans a sniff at a go-ahead score.

The hosts held their nerve to record a morale-boosting victory.

After the last-gasp lost to Souths in Round 1 and the near-miss to Sarina in Round 5 a week earlier, Jackson said he "had to turn away" in the dying stages of the match.

"We don't want to be that side that loses close games," Jackson said post-match.

Unbeknownst to the coach and his players at the time, those two points went a long way to securing Magpies' place in the finals.

READ MORE: Magpies coach: 'I had to turn away'

 

Magpies hung on to record a 24-20 victory over the previously undefeated Whitsunday Brahmans at Sologinkin Oval on Sunday afternoon.
Magpies hung on to record a 24-20 victory over the previously undefeated Whitsunday Brahmans at Sologinkin Oval on Sunday afternoon. Callum Dick

Round 7 (June 16) - Brothers 36 def. Magpies 24 at Leprechaun Park

IT WAS the game that stamped Brothers as the enigma of the competition.

How could a side which was so thoroughly dismantled by Souths in Round 2 and then outlasted away to Sarina in Round 6 come out a week later and shock the competition leaders?

In the span of 80 minutes, Brothers dropped Magpies from 1st to 4th and simultaneously boosted themselves into 5th ahead of Sarina.

If the Round 5 loss to Wests was two points missed, this was two crucial points gained.

Round 9 (June 30 ) - Brothers 40 def. Souths 30 at Leprechaun Park

THERE is making amends and then there is turning a 44-point deficit into a 10-point advantage.

Seven weeks after Brothers were embarrassed by Souths in Round 2, the Fish erased all memory of the May 12 clash with an emphatic 40-30 victory at Leprechaun Park.

It was the Matt and Matt show as Skaife crossed twice and Surha goaled on six of seven attempts to right the Brethren's finals course and put minor premiership doubts in the minds of the Sharks.

Round 9 (June 30) - Whitsunday 42 def. Wests 26 at Tiger Park

ACROSS town at Tiger Park, the Brahmans proved their Round 2 win over the reigning premiers was no fluke and simultaneously positioned themselves as favourites for the minor premiership.

In what was Wests' only blemish between May 25 and the end of the regular season, Tigers coach Craig Menkins said his side was "out-enthused" and "bullied" by the Brahmans.

In hindsight, the June 30 result was what separated the two sides at the top of the table come Round 14 - the Brahmans finished 12-2 ahead of the Tigers at 11-3.

READ MORE: Brahmans prove too much for tired Tigers

Round 10 (July 6) - Souths 22 def. Whitsunday 12 at Shark Park

THE TRUE impact of Souths' 10-point win over the Brahmans in Round 10 might only be realised if and when the two teams meet in the finals.

The Sharks claimed their biggest scalp of the season and simultaneously positioned themselves for a late-season charge at top spot.

Although their minor premiership hopes were dashed in the final round, the Sharks may look back on Round 10 as reason for optimism should the two sides renew their rivalry in the finals.

READ MORE: Wet weather suits Sharks swimmingly

Round 10 (July 7) - Wests 16 def. Sarina 10 at Tiger Park

AN AWAY day to Tiger Park is arguably the toughest trip in Mackay and thus few would have given the Crocs a chance of an upset.

But the reigning premiers were given an almighty scare by the boys from Sarina.

With their finals future in their own hands at that point of the campaign, the Crocs faced a tough two-week assignment to stay in contention.

It was the Round 10 loss to the Tigers and subsequent eight-point defeat at the hands of the Brahmans a week later which ultimately stuck a fork in the Crocs' finals hopes.

Sarina may be the "what-if" team of the 2019 season, owing to their four single-digit defeats across the year.

With just one win and percentage separating them from Magpies in fifth at the conclusion of the campaign, coach Setaimata Sa may look back on Rounds 10 and 11 as a missed opportunity.

Round 11 (July 20) - Wests 42 def. Magpies 18 at Sologinkin Oval

MAGPIES limped into the post-season on the back of four straight defeats and their month of misery started at Sologinkin Oval on July 20.

Wests was always going to be a tough task for Steve Jackson's men, but the 24-point loss was a stark foreshadowing of things to come.

The Tigers meanwhile had seven individual try-scorers in a complete team performance; one which would have given coach Craig Menkins plenty of confidence in the Tigers' point-scoring potency for the run home.

READ MORE: Point to prove in Men of League clash



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