An Australian player gets going while the going is good.
An Australian player gets going while the going is good. Che Chapman

PHOTOS: Touchdown for gridiron at Sunshine Coast Stadium

A 12-year journey for Australia Under-19s gridiron coach Luke Chapman has culminated in the team's first World Cup appearance after they beat New Zealand 13-7 to qualify.

Chapman is a local boy who has coached the Sunshine Coast Spartans to state championships, but this is by far his biggest achievement as he addressed the media with tears in his eyes.

"Excited, exhilarated, so proud of the boys and the staff - just really happy," he said. "It's been a long time in the making and it's just great to get a result.   "A bit closer than I would have liked, but hey, a win's a win."    

  There were feel good stories throughout the 45-man team, as Mooloolaba's under-19 beach sprint and flags world champion and wide receiver Jason Gough went solo to cross the line for Australia's first touchdown.  

"That man's amazing," Chapman said.   "What do you say?  

"He gets the ball 20 yards out, stands a couple blokes up and says 'see you later'.  

"The speed, the footwork and the vision of the guy is just great.  

"That touchdown was all him, and he does it tirelessly, relentlessly and he's one of the nicest blokes you'll ever see."

But it wasn't all smiles during the game as New Zealand threatened to spoil the party late in the fourth quarter despite being down 13-0.  

New Zealand broke through with a massive 40-yard touchdown and looked like they had the momentum to run away with the game after Australia failed to convert their second touchdown.  

The raucous Kawana crowd piped up throwing out "Aussie Aussie Aussie, oi oi oi" chants and Gough wasn't taking chances as the game went down to the final moments.  

"Absolutely amazing," he said. "That first half was really tough and then it went down to the wire in the second.  

"I definitely thought they were going to come back after we missed that pat kick, so they could have easily won 14-13."

Gough started playing as a 15-year-old and despite having a union background and being a world champion lifesaver he said there is just something about gridiron.  

"There's so much pride and passion," he said.   "The culture and just putting on the pads and helmet.  

"And just getting out there with the team environment is amazing."  



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