The Western Suburbs Magpies have defeated the Cronulla Sharks 42-16 to win the club’s first Harold Matthews Cup title.
The Magpies fought back from an early deficit to take a halftime lead before piling on the points in the second half.
While there were strong performances across the park, winger Tajh Colquhoun and prop Jordan Miller were the stars of the afternoon.
Colquhoun scored three tries and slotted seven conversions for an individual tally of 26 points, while Miller was awarded the match ball for his Man of the Match performance.
The Magpies got the scoring underway with a penalty goal in the 4th minute before Cronulla hit back through Kurt Montgomery. Montgomery almost repeated the dosage minutes later, but some desperate defence forced him over the sideline.
This would prove to be the turning point of the match as the Magpies marched their way downfield on the ensuing set and tied the game through Tajh Colquhen.
Prop Jordan Miller then showed off his playmaking abilities, sending Kit Laulilii through the line and away to score.
The Magpies doubled their advantage following an error from Cronulla captain Chevy Stewart, which fell into the arms of Nathaniel Gallagher.
In the second half, the task became much more difficult for the trailing Sharks as Stewart was sent off for dissent.
It didn’t take long for the Magpies to capitalise on the man advantage as Western Suburbs quickly shifted the ball to Tajh Colquhoun, who scored on the right edge.
Halfback Luke Keppie then sent Lachlan Galvin through the line with a deft short ball before Nathaniel Gallagher went over for his second try of the afternoon.
Colquhoun put the icing on the cake with eight minutes to play, pushing away from one defender and beating another with a spectacular acrobatic effort to complete his hat trick.
Speaking after the match to NSWRL TV, Magpies skipper Kit Laulilii stated that he was immensely proud of his side and the resilience they have shown throughout the season.
“We just did our job the whole season. We took it one game at a time, gave it our best today and got the result today”
“I’m so blessed to play with my little brother. It’s great for my family who have been supporting us since day one” “This was a bunch of boys who were just strangers to me at the very start, but they’re now my brothers”Captain Kit Laulilii
Laulilii couldn’t believe that he had received the opportunity to win a Grand Final alongside his little brother Luke, explaining that their brotherhood now extends to the rest of the squad.
The premiership is the first for the Western Suburbs Magpies in any competition since 2002, where a squad led by Bryce Gibbs, Liam Fulton and Ryan Hoffman won the SG Ball Cup.
Wests Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe was quick to shower praise on the team and all those who have contributed to this success. "To everyone associated with the pathways and development and football program. It's a brilliant achievement. Well done." said Pascoe.