Wests Tigers-bound Connelly Lemuelu kicks golden-point field goal to take Keebra Park to title
Connor O’Brien, Gold Coast Bulletin
September 7, 2016 12:00am
WITH a state championship on the line, up stepped star Keebra Park State High fullback Connelly Lemuelu.
The match, played yesterday at Pizzey Park, shaped as a David and Goliath battle with Coombabah rank outsiders to the giant Keebra line-up.
What ensued was a tense, dramatic, see-sawing GIO Schoolboys Cup final between two talented and desperate sides.
Across 60 minutes the lead changed five times, before a late penalty goal to Coombabah winger Callum Boomer sent the decider into golden point.
Off the back of an excellent carry by Payne Haas the ball was fired to Wests Tigers-bound Lemuelu, who calmly slotted a 35m field goal to send Keebra’s huge supporter base into raptures.
“It’s pretty good – overwhelming,” an emotional Lemuelu told the Bulletin.
“Most of the boys have been waiting a few years, me myself have been waiting for two years just to make the Queensland final let alone the Australian final.
“We just stuck to our structure, we didn’t panic at the end and lucky for me I ended up with that final field goal.”
His father Konelio was in tears, having flown across from New Zealand to watch the game.
“I think that’s probably my good luck charm,” Lemuelu said. “Dad’s going back to New Zealand (today), Mum’s turn next week in the Australian final.”
Keebra last won a state title in 2013, when they went on to claim their second national crown.
They will play Westfields Sports High in the national final in Sydney next week.
Keebra coach Glen Campbell said they’ll go in confident: “We’re not going down there to run second”.
Prior to his field goal heroics, Lemuelu had earlier helped his side edge ahead in the 55th minute, showing an outstanding sleight of hand in a scrum-based set piece to put centre Liam Pakau through for his second try untouched.
The result ended Coombabah’s fairytale run which included beating heavyweights Palm Beach Currumbin State High and Kirwan State High – last year’s national winners – in consecutive matches.
Only millimetres prevented them progressing further, with five-eighth Taine Tuapiki’s field goal attempt into the wind in the dying minutes of regular time scraping just under the cross bar.
Coombabah coach Scott Marlow had special praise for standout captain Rei Rei Marsh, who carried a fractured sternum, and said the side had paved the way for future success.
“It’s been very difficult being the new kids on the block with Palm Beach and Keebra here so it’s been a long time coming for Coombabah but these boys have really set a great legacy for the teams that come in the future,” he said.
Tigers recruitment manager Warren McDonnell was among a high-profile crowd. Six Keebra players – Lemuelu, Pakau, Oscar Tui, Liam Hampson, Kelepi Lui and captain Tom Mikaele – will join the NRL club’s under-20s 2017 squad.
Final score was 27-26. Play Westfield Sports High next week. A prop, centre and fullback amongst the players we’ve secured.
Also rumoured to have Spencer Poimatagi-Purcell, Bryce Whale and Kees Nicholson under contract.
Here’s also a video one of their students filmed of the moments after the golden point field goal was kicked. I think they enjoyed the win!