Ag College will be playing the Southern Inland grand final for fallen teammate Andy Stanham.
Stanham died suddenly last month and just minutes after playing a crucial hand to down Leeton in the preliminary final, Mike van Diggelen declared the side are looking to win it for the 22-year-old.
“We’re doing it for our mate Col,” van Diggelen said.
Van Diggelen scored the winning try in injury time to send Ag College through to the decider against Waratahs on Saturday.
The representative flanker crossed for his second try in the last play of the game to help the Wagga side to a 24-20 victory at Jarrah Oval on Saturday.
After coming from behind against the premiers, van Diggelen could hardly believe the finish to the clash.
“It was unreal,” he said.
“It was amazing.
“It looked like we weren’t going to do it for a bit, but we just grinded it out.
“It shows we really have faith in each and everyone of us and we pushed through it.”
Describing the thriller in horrible conditions at Tumut as the longest game of footy he’s been a part of, van Diggelen kept fighting to the end to ensure Ag College have one last shot at becoming to the first time to beat Waratahs this season.
The flanker scored to put Ag College in front for the first time with 10 minutes left on the clock only for Leeton to get back in front in the dying stages.
However Aggies regained the ball, maintained possession in injury time and worked their way done the field.
Van Diggelen crossed out wide to put Ag College through to the grand final.
He thought controlling the ball was key to their powerful finish.
“There were a few mishaps in the first half I guess, but then we stuck to our plan of keeping it in the forwards and letting the back line fire when they needed to and it really worked for us,” he said.
Despite the Phantoms edging back in front van Diggelen knew the team could still come back to set up a clash with Waratahs in the grand final.
Freddy Tupou’s try only made them determined to work even harder.
“We knew we had to get up on them and we weren’t dropping the ball or giving them an inch after that,” van Diggelen said.
“We did that and we worked hard.”
In his third season with the club, van Diggelen could hardly describe what it means to make it through to the grand final.
“We knew we could do it but it is just unreal,” he said.
“I don’t think I’ve ever felt it before and the lead up to this week is just going to be amazing.”