A LACHIE Day penalty goal with the last kick of the day helped Southern Inland Rugby Union (SIRU) to an 11th straight Brumbies Provincial Championships title on Saturday.
SIRU trailed for most of the game and left it until the last play of the day to land a thrilling 23-22 victory over South Coast-Monaro at Conolly Rugby Complex.
SIRU were pressing strongly within just metres of the try-line when they were awarded a penalty. Day went back and coolly slotted the match-winner to stretch the home team's winning streak with a hard-fought victory.
SIRU men's coach Nick McCarthy was pleased to be able to continue the zone's proud representative history with a tough win.
"That's always nice to be part of that sort of history. It's probably not what our key driver is but it's always nice to keep that sort of tradition going, especially when we've had a few of those ex-captains come in and be apart of the program this year," McCarthy said.
"I think, really, our zone likes competing. We want to be part of these sort of programs. It gives us the opportunity to show what our players can do.
"The results, they're great, and it's always exciting but my aim as a coach is to provide opportunities to our players and show them a pathway to higher honours football if they're willing to have a go at it."
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An intercept allowed Monaro to get on the board first with Vilitati Seru showcasing his blinding speed to score. SIRU got one back relatively quickly with Max Gay breaking the line and levelling the scores.
Tries to Monaro's Jake Parker and Azzam Hudson either side of the half-time break pushed the visitors clear but Pat Lemmich dived over for an important try in the 63rd minute to put SIRU back within two.
The two teams traded penalties goals before Day converted the match-winning penalty in the 83rd minute.
McCarthy gave credit to South Coast-Monaro.
"I was really impressed with Monaro. They picked a good side, they played to their strengths and they put us under pressure. It took a hell of an effort to get there," he said.
"It's always good to get a result in a game like that, that's why you play. You play all footy to get the bikkies at the end of it.
"It was pretty stressful there late in the game. I don't think we played particularly well to start the match off. It was pretty frustrating. I thought after our first error with the intercept we worked really hard to accumulate some points and scored a good try through Maxy Gay, to give that back was really frustrating. I was really proud of the way the guys ground out the first half, they were pragmatic with the ball, kicked a couple of penalty goals and kept the scoreboard going.
"But I've got to give massive credit to Monaro, they put us under pressure, worked really hard on their line speed, which made it hard for us to really get some of our outside backs into the play, in hindsight we could have been a bit more direct through our edge forwards but we got the result, got the job done."
Anthony Taylor was one of SIRU's best, looking particularly dangerous when running the ball, while the front-row, led by Tom Blanch, were also very good.
SIRU also made good use of their bench with Tully MacPherson-Peacock, Blake Theunissen, Connor Swann and Talilotu Uoifalelahi all making a big impact.
SIRU were forced into a late change when Sam Carwadine pulled out in the warm-up with a hamstring issue.
SIRU 23 (M Gay, P Lemmich tries; L Day 3 penalties, 2 conversions) d Monaro 22 (V Seru, J Parker, A Hudson tries; F Baird 2 conversions, 1 penalty).
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