Credit: Tom Campbell
They may have left it late, but the South Perth Lions are the 2018 Pirates Youth Cup Premiers after a 31-30 win over the Kalamunda Bulldogs at Dorrien Gardens on Saturday.
In a see-saw contest which saw no fewer than six lead changes, Kade McDonald slotted a field goal 30 seconds from time to hand South Perth the flag in a dramatic game.
Trailing 30-28 with just two minutes to play, South Perth five-eight McDonald took over – knocking over a late penalty goal and field goal to hand his side a one-point win.
“That was a tough game,” McDonald said.
“Bringing a flag for the club really means a lot.”
The win caps off a stellar 2018 season for McDonald, who finished the year as South Perth’s top try-scorer in both First Grade and the Pirates Youth Cup.
“Backing up Friday to Saturday and all the boys putting in the effort – to get the win and be able to celebrate tonight is going to be good,” the 18-year-old said.
With plenty of West Coast Pirates players such as McDonald, Aidan Carstairs, Tahamho Teirney and Devontay Tutai-Tauiti on show, this was always going to be a Grand Final to savour.
Thankfully, the contest followed script with Tutai-Tauiti needing just four minutes to get his name on the scoresheet as he burrowed over from dummy half.
The try was one of four first-half tries for the prop forward during a blistering opening 35.
The Lions, boasting numerous players with First Grade experience soon hit back – McDonald’s short ball sending Jaiden Wilkinson to lock the game up at 6-6.
Just two minutes later, the minor premiers were in front – Jacob Kerr streaking away to touch down under the sticks.
With Kalamunda needing a lift, Tutai-Tauiti stepped up – piling on two tries in just three minutes to complete his hat-trick and give his side a 16-12 lead.
South Perth forward Austin Cameron then went close to regaining the lead for his side but was held up over the line.
The Lions would get their just reward, however, as they notched a third try on the half-hour mark.
With time running out in the first-half, Teirney turned on the magic – producing a through-the-legs pass to send Tutai-Tauiti over for his fourth and give the Bulldogs a 20-18 lead heading into the sheds.
Kalamunda started the second half as they ended the first – Michael Collins Davis extending the Bulldogs’ lead with a try four minutes after the restart.
As was the theme of the afternoon, Cameron hit back for the Lions with a try close to the posts to cut the deficit to just two points.
But when Bulldogs winger Abdelrahman Eisawi crossed in the corner, Kalamunda had a six-point lead with just 17 minutes to play.
The Lions won a season-high 10 games during the regular season and can never be written off – McDonald producing a bit of individual brilliance to score a 50-metre try.
A missed Teirney field goal gave South Perth a seven-tackle set with just two minutes to play, and the minor premiers took full advantage – going the length of the field to lock the game up with a McDonald penalty goal.
With the clock now a factor, South Perth moved the ball up-field before McDonald cooly slotted the winning field goal with just 30 seconds left on the clock.
Lions prop Peliata Fisiihoi was named Player of the Match to send departing coach Andrew Cameron out on a high.