Joe Kafoa-Pene banned from Leeton's grand final

MISSING OUT: Joe Kafoa-Pene has been suspended for the Southern Inland grand final.
MISSING OUT: Joe Kafoa-Pene has been suspended for the Southern Inland grand final.

There was a tinge of sadness to Leeton’s celebrations after the Phantoms booked their first grand final appearance in almost 20 years.

The sadness was for Joe Kafoa-Pene, who won’t be able to play in the decider after he picked up his third yellow card of the season.

Given his marching orders for a deliberate foul, the third yellow means he automatically misses his next game.

It just happens to be the grand final.

After the game, an emotional Kafoa-Penne was left devastated.

“I have no idea what I got that one for,” Kafoa-Pene said.

It was his third yellow card in five weeks.

Kafoa-Pene was among the best performed players in the Brumbies Provincial team this season and coach Marika Vunibaka believes his loss is a blow for the team. 

“It was bad luck for Joe after his yellow card,” Vunibaka said. “He has been here for ages and I think this was going to be his first one (grand final) and now he is going to miss it.”

Leeton’s 66-27 victory over Waratahs means the Phantoms will host the grand final on August 26.

It is the first time in 30 years the decider won’t be in Wagga after Southern Inland opened the grand final venue to winner of the major semi-final this season.

Vunibaka believes it will be another boost to the undefeated team.

“It is good to having the final here for the community, being a small town,” he said.​

Southern Inland rugby manager Mick McTaggart is confident in Leeton and the decision.