2023 Men's Fortescue Premier Grade Grand Final Wrap

Mon, Sep 4, 2023, 7:28 AM
by RugbyWA Media

Palmyra have ended a 32-year drought to claim the Fortescue Premier Grade premiership - but they had to wait until after the siren to get their hands on the silverware with a 25-23 win over Wests Scarborough.

And winning coach Darren Reed confidently predicted it would not be another 32 years before Palmyra's name was back on the trophy.

"We started this wanting to win a premiership and keep getting better every year," Reed said.

"The whole club deserves it. It's been an amazing year.

"Everyone deserves to have a few beers and celebrate.

"We want to get better as a club but we have still got a long way to go."

Reed knew they would be in for a close game.

"I always thought it was going to be tight," he said.

"Wests are an awesome side.

"They played really good finals rugby and I always thought it was going to be a really close game.

"Just the courage of my guys. I'm so proud of them."

The winning points came in the 82nd minute of Saturday's edge-of-the seat clash at Tompkins Park.

With the minor premiers five points down at 18-23 and just seconds left on the clock, Kale Bissett crashed over to pull his side level.

Another replacement, Fionn McCabe, slotted the conversion before collapsing in tears.

In a brutal encounter, Wests had come from behind to take a late lead but could not make it back-to-back titles.

There was desperation from both sides in an epic contest, in particular, the back-row battle was outstanding.

Wests have been on a slow burn this season, moving from the cellar in the early rounds to second place, but it was one bridge too far.

Palmyra were favourites but were always going to have to hold the big Wests pack if they were going to unleash their star-studded backline.

With a strong wind at their backs they had all the early territory and possession, stringing together plenty of phases as Wests struggled to get out of their 22-metres.

Palmyra were rewarded for their pressure, opening the scoring with a Rhys Morgan penalty.

After withstanding the early assault Walter Koteka opened Wests' account with a three-pointer that also saw the home side reduced to 14 men with second-rower Hendrik De Wet sent to the bin.

Morgan nudged his side back into the lead with a second penalty but his work was over soon after as he left the field with a head knock.

The home side went further ahead when winger Rewita Biddle carved through the Wests midfield and quick recycling and ball movement saw Mani Eden cross in the corner for the first try of the game.

Wests' depth was also tested, losing front-rower Niko Manaena in the shadows of half-time.

But their winger Kauri Tipene-Grace scored a spectacular try, leaping over his opposite number Chris Miller to grab a Koteka cross-kick after a patient build-up.

The injury toll mounted shortly after the break when Biddle finally succumbed to a shoulder injury picked up in a first half tackle with Jonah Placid.

In the second-half the Wests pack starting to exert pressure and looked set to score until they spilled the ball close to the line.

It was switched quickly to Miller who ran from inside his 22-metres to score. Converted by McCabe.

But before Palmyra fans could finish celebrating Wests hit back Placid smashing over from a few metres.

And they quickly pulled level, replacement prop Nick Mclennan crashing over.

Koteka put his side ahead for the first time with the conversion and gave them a five-point lead with a penalty soon after.

But then came the final pulsating minutes and the long wait was over for Palmyra.

Results at a glance

Premiership: Palmyra 25, Wests Scarborough 23

Women's Premier Grade: Wanneroo 10, Kalamunda 15

Reserve Grade: Wests Scarborough 12, Cottesloe 16

Third Grade: Palmyra 16, Cottesloe 10

Fourth Grade: Kalamunda 62, Nedlands 0

Championship: Bunbury 15, Rockingham 13

Community: Dunsborough & Busselton 7, Mandurah 5

Colts: Wanneroo 17, Joondalup 14