The Universities Rugby League Queensland competition concluded last Wednesday with the Griffith Dragons wrapping up the season with a grand final win over the University of Queensland Hounds.
The Dragons met the Hounds in the grand final for the second year in a row, but whereas last year the Hounds handed them a two-point defeat in the dying seconds of the 2018 match, this year the Dragons won 22 points to 16.
Not only that, but the Dragons’ win made them the only team in the Universities Rugby League Queensland competition in the past 15 years to go through an entire season undefeated.
Griffith Dragons coach Christopher Chaisty said he was proud of his team’s effort throughout the season.
“The boys dug deep all year long, especially in the final,” Chaisty said.
“We didn’t get off to the greatest start – I was a bit worried when UQ got out to a 10-6 lead just before half-time – [but] we were lucky to level the scores heading into the break,” he said.
Chaisty, who was in his debut coaching season said, it was a credit to the playing group for buying into the culture and building a strong chemistry.
“We faced a lot of challenges this season and the pressures of going through undefeated were a blessing and a curse coming into the grand final,” he said.
“No team wants to go through undefeated and lose in the final.”
“I’ve played in sides like that and I think if our squad wasn’t so tight as a group, we may not have got over the obstacles we faced during the season.”
What was a dream night for one side was a nightmare for the other.
The University of Queensland Hounds coach, Scott Barker, said he remained proud of his team’s performance as they fell short of winning the competition for the third consecutive season in a row.
“It was a disappointing way to finish the season, but the boys can hold their heads high, they really pushed the Dragons hard,” Barker said.
“We’ve had a good run the past few seasons, we’ve got a great group of boys and I hope we can come back next year with the same squad, because I think we’ve got what it takes to go all the way next season,” he said.
The Hounds coach congratulated the Dragons on their impressive season.
“Well done to Chris Chaisty and the Dragons, they’ve had a hell of year and every time we meet is a spectacle,” Barker said.
“When we were all tied up 16-all with five minutes to go, I thought we had really good chance, but the game ended in similar fashion to how we won last year,” he said.
With five minutes remaining, the Dragons were attacking the Hounds’ and were able to get the ball back by forcing a repeat set.
Griffith Dragons, Captain Matthew Butler, scored the match-winning try right next to the upright to give his side a six-point lead.
“It was a great feeling crossing for that try,” Butler said.
“I thought at the time it had put us in a great position to win the game but there was still five minutes remaining which is a long time in football,” he said.
“I was stressing to the boys after I scored that the job wasn’t done yet, so we had to keep our cool and complete the next set.”
The Dragons did exactly that and were able to finish off the game with no errors and run out the clock securing the club’s first grand final win in 11 years.
“When the final siren sounded it was a surreal feeling,” Butler said.
“We’ve fallen short a few times over the past five years, and we owed it to ourselves and our club’s staff to get the win, especially our club president Aimee Wildman who has given everything to this club for the past six years,” he said.
Griffith Dragons club president, Aimee Wildman, said it was good to go out on a win.
“Well, this is my final year at the club and to leave with the boys taking out the competition is a great feeling,” Wildman said.
“I’m so happy for the boys and what they have achieved, I’ll miss this club,” she said.