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Monaro Create Laurie Daley Cup History: Grand Final Wrap

The Monaro Colts made history on Sunday, claiming their first ever Laurie Daley Cup title after defeating the Northern Tigers 28-18 in a thrilling decider. 

While Monaro's Men's Country Championships side put up a good fight but couldn't get the job done against the Newcastle Rebels, losing 20-4 in a hard fought grand final matchup. 

Laurie Daley Cup 

Monaro Colts 28 d Northern Tigers 18

Monaro's young guns have etched their name in history as the first ever Colts side to win the Laurie Daley Cup. 

The matchup lived up to the exciting expectations it promised, with both sides finishing first in their pool and delivering strong semi-final performances. 

The game was very much end-to-end and the scores were close for the majority until Monaro found themselves up 22-8 early into the second half. 

But the Tigers are known to not shy away from the contest when behind, as they have comeback from 16-point deficits twice this season, including their semi-final win against Macarthur. 

They went on to cross for two quick tries to bring the scores to a four-point game, before Monaro hooker Mitchell Brophy clinched the title for his team with the match winning try, showcasing individual brilliance from dummy half. 

Brophy's match winner was the cherry on top of an excellent individual grand final performance, as he was also first to score in the game by burrowing over off the ruck in the ninth minute. 

The first half proceeded to be a back and fourth affair, with the Tigers hitting back through winger Keandre Johnson-Vale impressively diving in the corner, before Monaro crossed for two more.

Prop JJ Mau Pohiva crashed over from close range, followed by second rower Joseph Elton scoring in the corner after receiving a spectacular offload from centre Harry Hudson. 

Just before the break, Tigers winger Oscar Atkin got over the line to bring the scores to 16-8 Monaro's way heading into the sheds. 

Monaro gained their biggest lead not long into the second half through halfback Jonah Anderson grubbering for Elton to score his second. 

Showcasing their comeback prowess, the Tigers scored two consecutive tries through Johnson-Vale in the corner again, and centre Cooper Meldrum displaying exceptional skill to regather his own grubber and score. 

With 20 minutes left on the clock and the scores at 22-18 Monaro's way, the intensity lifted.

Both sides held out defensively until Brophy took matters into his own hands with five minutes remaining, scooting from dummy half and throwing a dummy before stepping inside to hit the gap and score to seal the game and the Laurie Daley Cup title for Monaro. 

Men's Country Championships 

Newcastle Rebels 20 d Monaro Colts 4

The Newcastle Rebels have won back-to-back Men's Country Championships titles after defeating Monaro quite comfortably, despite a valiant effort from the Colts.

The game was very much in the balance, with the scores reading 14-4 Newcastle's way up until the 71st minute when the Rebels put the game beyond doubt, scoring the one and only try of the second half to be crowned champions.

The matchup boasted players of elite quality on both sides, namely Sam Williams (Monaro), Blake Ferguson, and Will Smith (both Newcastle) who are all ex-NRL players, which made for an exciting 80 minutes. 

It didn't take long for Newcastle to get off to a two-try lead, first with hooker Luke Huth throwing a beautiful cut-out ball from dummy half to put winger Honeti Tuha over untouched, followed by prop James Taylor hitting a hard line to crash over for their second.

Monaro hit back in the 19th minute with halfback Sam Williams putting a perfectly weighted kick up and into the corner after spotting his winger Brandon Withers open on the outside in which Withers dove on to score. 

Not long before halftime, Newcastle added to their lead with perfectly executed draw and pass from five-eighth Will Smith and centre Mathew Soper-Lawler to put winger William Nieuwenhuise in the corner to go into the sheds in front 14-4. 

The game went into a try scoring holt, with both sides getting into the grind and holding out defensively. 

Within the final 10 minutes, the Rebels put the game to bed through Huth picking and going at an unset Monaro defensive line, before handing off to fullback Cameron Anderson through a hole to score essentially the match winner and secure Newcastle the title. 

Despite the loss for Monaro, the 2024 campaign marked significant success and a substantial improvement compared to last year, when they experienced a dominating defeat in round one. 

Images by Bryden Sharp

Acknowledgement of Country

Canberra Raiders respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.