QUEENSLAND GIRLS WIN FINAL Qld made a clean sweep of Secondary divisions in 2004 when the Girls 15 Years defeated NSW in an old fashioned Grand Final, which featured some desperate defence, committed driving, and intelligent ball play and phase options. Qld had had five players under injury clouds entering the game, including their Co-Captains and chief playmakers Ali Briggenshaw and Samantha Hopkin, so the game was always going to be a hard fought slugfest for the Queenslanders who have now sent Coach Craig Slavin and QSST broke with strapping tape bills. NSW had a lot to work on following their 5 -2 loss to Qld in the round game on Wednesday, and to their credit they took a leaf out of their 15 Years Boys books and fought Qld in the trenches with great commitment in gaining field position and repelling the Qld roll which was so integral to Queensland’s attacking platform during the tournament. NSW got off to the best start possible when Anna Prowse gave the Qld defence the slip close out from the shoreline to find Sarah Hopkins diving low to open the game with a great touchdown only 3 minutes into the contest. Qld were stung into action and Ash Cook kick started the Qld attack with a switching movement which saw Genevieve LaCaze scoot from half in second phase then dish off a great ball into the hole for local girl Jaya Callinan to draw the defence and allow Cook to square the account at 1-1. The action was then end to end with both teams creating chances and not being able to seal the deal with a much-needed touchdown. For NSW Cobie Morgan, Stephanie Halpin, and Sarah Hopkins were causing more problems for the Qld defence than Damir Dokic at a grand slam. Queensland’s Ali Briggenshaw, Genevieve LaCaze, and Kristy `K-Mart’ Brennan countered for the home side with several inspired pieces of play which built pressure and kept Qld right in the contest. Right before half time NSW lynchpin Cobie Morgan got her feet caught in the ruck close to the line, however, the referee was unsighted and was willing to give NSW the changeover. Morgan showed great sportsmanship and gave herself up, and the referee then correctly awarded Qld the tap which was taken quickly and moved to Qld’s Ali Briggenshaw who managed to get on the outside of the defence and slide over. NSW’s Ellyse Perry made an honest `No’ call to confirm the touchdown for Briggenshaw, and Qld went to their water bottles with a 2 -1 lead. One minute after resumption, it was that girl Ali Briggenshaw, again in the thick of the action producing the magic when her team needed it. The lanky playmaker did it all herself to take the defence on close out and dive over low to take the Queenslanders out to a 3 -1 lead. NSW was not going to go away and six minutes later, Stephanie Halpin, who had been probing away for the Blues, produced a sensational cut-out pass for speedster Cara Zaremski to dot down and reduce the deficit to 3 -2 with plenty of time remaining on the clock. Stephanie Halpin, contributing wholeheartedly in attack and defence for the Blues once again raised a special effort, this time against the run of play and in shades of the Boys 15 Years game, she nabbed an Intercept and raced away, diving over to lock the game up at 3 – 3. The last five minutes was an absorbing battle with the big guns on either team trading shots at each other. Hopkin, Morgan, and Halpin for NSW left it all out there on the park as they threw the kitchen sink and everything in it at Qld. Briggenshaw, Sam Hopkins and Toni Tupuihi kept firing salvos back to let the Blues know that they were going to battle it out to the death with their arch rivals. A good passing movement found Tupihi in space she drew the NSW defender and the composed and skilful Ash Cook put Jaya Callinan over for the money ball and a decisive 4 -3 lead with one minute left on the clock. NSW tried desperately to jag the equaliser, but it was not to be, and fittingly Player of the Final and Qld Co-captain Ali Briggenshaw thwarted NSW’s last attacking shot with the full time siren reverberating in the background. Qld Coach Craig Slavin claimed his third title in a row as Coach and was pleased with the courageous display his walking wounded mustered, but felt they did not play a particularly good game in the final, “I’m proud of the determined way they got through the final, but we didn’t do the little things as well as possible and made life a bit hard for ourselves… finals are funny, the pressure is one thing and dealing with that is important, you just hope the players hold on to enough of the game plan to stay on track and we did. NSW played great and full credit to them.” Slavin was proud of all his troops but singled out his Co-Captains Briggenshaw and Hopkin for praise in the way they led and directed the team and to defensive specialist Lizzie Campbell and young guns Ash Cook and Kristy Brennan who showed tremendous aptitude for the big game occasion. Game Go to Girl – Ali Briggenshaw, but NSW Cobie Morgan and Stephanie Halpin were right there as well, great talents who I’m sure we’ll continue to hear a lot more from in the future. Last game completed, trophies won and lost, shirts signed and swapped, `Macca’s’ to be eaten, tents packed up for the last time (how heavy were they?) injuries, sunburn and raspy voices to treat, but hopefully more smiles than cries and a lot of great memories to talk about in the years to come. Thanks to all players, coaches, parents, referees and officials who have contributed to these reports, the future of our game are these young people who have proven themselves to be quality representatives of the game on and off the field of play. Written by Karley Banks 31 October 2004.