RUGBY UNION: Gladstone Goats coach Sam Carey has hailed unsung try-scoring heroes Lachlan Mann and Matt Neill after their performance during a nail-biting elimination semi-final win against Frenchville in Moura at the weekend.
Locked up at 27-all after the Pioneers scored after full-time, the match went into two 10-minute halves of extra time with the Goats scraping home 44-37 after 100 minutes of desperate rugby.
Leading 27-20 after Neill scored in the corner with less than two minutes remaining, Frenchville rolled the dice for one final time by attempting a short kick-off at the restart, managing to regather and press the Gladstone line to level it up.
With little time to rest between the final siren and the beginning of extra time, the game ebbed and flowed at a frantic pace.
"It was a see-saw affair,” Carey said.
"We kicked a penalty, then they scored a try and we scored a try and a penalty.
"It got to the point where if you could get the ball down on the opposition's line you were probably going to score within a few phases through a penalty because guys were fatigued and not getting out of the ruck... guys were just out on their feet at that time.
"Thankfully we had the last say.”
Gladstone landed the killer blow in extra time when Mann crashed over the line from a pick and drive.
Frenchville attempted another short kick-off from the restart but the Goats claimed the ball and fullback David West kicked it into touch to end the contest.
"For Matty Neill to score that try right on full-time when we really needed it - I don't know where he came from to score it - but when the pressure mattered the most and we needed a try he got it and he scored it.
"The same goes for Lachlan Mann for that one pick-and-drive on the line to score the match-winning try.
"They're the ones who stand out in my mind - I couldn't be happier for those guys who just plug away and don't get the glory and accolades everyone else does.”
The Goats will now turn focus on this weekend's preliminary final against Brothers in Rockhampton.
Brothers lost against Dawson Valley Drovers in the qualifying semi-final and are the only side the Goats have failed to beat this season.
Gladstone Goats 44 (Jason Warby, Paul Tema, George Kupu, Lachlan Mann, Matt Neill tries; David West 5 cons, 3 pens) defeated Frenchville Pioneers 37.
HT: Frenchville 13-10
AET: 44-37 Gladstone.