Nanango's Blake gets the ball out of their defensive area.
Nanango's Blake gets the ball out of their defensive area. Laura Blackmore

Inside the stirring half-time speech that saved league final

THE rugby league school final between Nanango and Murgon started off as any man's game, but an inspiring half-time pep talk from Nanango's stand-in coach helped the team take the win.

Stephen Perrett stood in at the last minute after the under-18s Nanango coach fell ill, and he said he couldn't have been prouder of the boys.

"The team were absolutely terrific,” Perrett said.

"They played incredibly and had a great time.

"But most importantly they were really respectful and lovely to coach, definitely in the right headspace.”

At the end of the first half, Nanango were only leading by 10 points, the scoreboard showing 22-12.

"At half-time I told them they needed to remember why they wanted this win,” Perrett said.

"We talked about how this was going to be their final game of the year. Their final game playing for this team, for their school, before they graduate.

"This will be a memory they look back on in years to come. I wanted that to be a memory of them winning the championship with their mates.”

It seems this was all the encouragement the team needed.

In the second half, one of the team's key players, Matthew Early, held a player in the goal, which put momentum on their side.

"He held up one of the Murgon players in the goal. That's a good six points he stopped,” Perrett said.

"It was the buffer the boys needed.

"Murgon weren't able to come back from that one.”

Matthew Early also scored three tries throughout the game.

Perrett said other noteworthy players were Kaia Williams and Matthew Mladenovic.

"Matty played really well all game,” he said.

"And Kaia was our man of the match. He was just outstanding.

"He scored a lot of tries and his attacking play and defence was excellent. You just couldn't fault him.”

After Perrett's pep talk clicked the team into gear, they came out on top.

The final score was 55 to Nanango and 18 to Murgon.

Perrett said the boys were all smiles, and celebrated with their school chant.

"Murgon were a great team to play, too,” he said.

"Just terrific sportspeople. It was really unfortunate they had that injured player.

"After that injury we scored right away and that 18-point buffer is what kept us ahead. Then the boys just kept scoring, no one could stop them.”

Overall, Perrett said it was their desperation to win, the great atmosphere, and the boys' mateship and hard work that won them the game.

"I couldn't be prouder,” he said.

"They just did so well.

"And now they're always going to be able to look back and remember their last game as one of their best games. What more could you want for the team?”