Devils take out the premiership
RUGBY LEAGUE: The Gympie Devils secured the 2015 premiership title, defeating the Caboolture Snakes in a brutal fight to the finish line on Saturday at Sunshine Coast Stadium.
The undefeated minor premiers followed the season through to the end, claiming the premiership with a 30-22 victory in what was the most physical game of the season.
Devils captain Michael Plate said it was the team's hardest game all year by far with a bit of confrontation on the field at times.
Caboolture had a lot of vocal supporters at the match and although outnumbering the Gympie supporters, they could not be silenced.
The Devils spirits were hugely lifted by the crowd, Plate said.
The Caboolture Snakes wasted no time scoring two tries right under the noses of Gympie's defence, however the early points did not overwhelm the Devils who were prepared for a tight contest.
"They scored two quick tries on us while we were running into the breeze.
"We were not concerned, we knew they would come out strong."
Plate said Karl Leupold scored a great try to get Gympie back in the game after he ran over the top of two players to then beat the fullback and score between the posts.
The Devils continued to make their comeback to take a 16-10 lead heading into the second half.
"We had a good 10-minute period before half-time."
The division two side was confident and knew that if it continued its strong form and held its lead, it could topple the Snakes in the final 40 minutes.
It was a battle of the forwards as the Devils tried to pin Caboolture down in the corners.
"It was a brutal second-half."
The game came down to the wire as Caboolture was within two points of the Devils, with 10 minutes on the clock.
With two minutes remaining and still only the two points separating the teams, Ben Harney crossed the line to secure a Devils win.
"We were more relieved than anything," Plate said.
"It was a good feeling."
Grand finals did not come around often and everyone was enjoying the moment, he said.
It was a fantastic match and it's what you play football for, Plate said.
For some players, it was the first time they had been part of a premier team, let alone their first grand final.
As celebrations continue, many players are happy to gain a few months away from football but with a premiership under their belt, will hopefully be back to defend their title next season.
The last time the Devils won a premiership was in 2010.
"It was nice to be involved in the grand final day."
The Devils played well across the board with the forwards playing a particularly strong and gruelling game, to get tryscorers Leupold, Dean Bull, Ben Harney, Caleb Kerr and Nick Wheeler close enough to cross the line.
Plate converted all five tries.
However Josh Cumner was awarded the Mal Meninga medal as the man of the match for his constant defence.
"He was destroying blokes half his size out there."