AFTER an emotional past few weeks following the death of clubmate Jay Lasscock, the Queanbeyan Blues reserve grade side finally had cause to smile again last Sunday.
The side’s 26-22 grand final victory over the Goulburn Workers Bulldogs was a bittersweet moment for the Blues players who revelled in their unlikely title triumph while also paying tribute to Lasscock who passed away earlier this month.
“We had a 14th player out there, making all the tackles with us and pushing us along,” Blues coach Ronnie Hoare said following the win. “Jay’s going to be sadly missed but he’ll be forever with us.
“We set ourselves a pact a couple of weeks ago that we were dedicating this one to Jay and there was no way we were coming away with a loss today, we just dug deep when we needed to.”
A month ago, Queanbeyan’s prospects of even competing in finals football had looked shaky. The Blues went into the final round of the regular season in fifth position on the ladder and reliant on other results going their way to sneak into the top four.
Last weekend’s result also marked a particularly sharp turnaround from earlier this year when a decimated Blues outfit was in the midst of a four-game losing run.
“It’s been a struggle at times this year when we’ve only had six or seven players at training because the other boys are all up in first grade,” Hoare said.
“You can’t do a hell of lot when you’re in that situation but we just had that core group who’ve been there all the way through stick solid so for those guys, this result is very satisfying.”
On Sunday, the Blues had appeared set for a comfortable victory after blowing out to a 26-8 lead late in the second half.
But three tries in five minutes, including a quick-fire double to pacey winger Brett Waters saw Goulburn set up a tense finale. Blues veteran Phil Stonham was named as man of the match after a two-try haul.
Canberra Raiders Cup reserve grade, grand final: Queanbeyan Blues 26 (Stonham 2, Fale 2, Vakahali tries; Jenkins 3 goals) bt Goulburn Workers Bulldogs 22 at Seiffert Oval.