UQ Med Rugby Vs Brisbane Irish (Semi Final) 7/08/15

314Hold onto your hats Ladies and Gentlemen – it’s semi-final night – and we’re on the big stage – Ballymore!

As I look around the dressing room – you can almost sense there’s something special going to happen tonight – win lose or draw – Med are here to play !!!

With past players, UQ colleagues, friends and family filling the stands, the atmosphere was reaching levels that finals footy deserves.

Med’s own 2013 ProLENDING Player of the Year Mitch “Dutch” Van Deurse was presented his trophy on the field and the sense of occasion was rubbing off onto the team.

Strangely – for the first time in a long time – I wasn’t feeling nervous – at all !!

We warmed up well- we headed to the sheds for our final team talk – the huddle formed and everyone seemed focussed on the job at hand.

We spoke about the tradition of Ballymore – and the thrill of playing at one of the best rugby fields in the world. We spoke about doing the little things well,; about making the tackles about supporting each other in attack and defence.

But we also spoke about enjoying our rugby – because ultimately – that’s why we play and what we’re here for.

Then – we receive the 1 minute til kick-off call…. Ok, what I said about no nerves earlier – strike that – I was about to throw up !!!

Here we go !!!!

The next 35 minutes was a complete blur !  Did that all just happen ??  Irish scored a couple – we fought back and scored one – tackling ourselves to a standstill.

I think the score was 10 – 7 to Irish – but it really didn’t matter. Med was in the game and holding our own against a side who had pretty much dominated us over the previous 2 encounters this season.

The self-belief was evident.

The boy’s faces told the story of the “Battle of Ballymore” !!  We are seriously here to win this thing !!!

2nd half – away we go – Come on Boys !!!!!!

From one end to the other – both sides gave their all. Med fell further behind – but never gave up and managed to narrow the gap after an unbelievable effort resulted in an extraordinary team try.

Here we go … keep defending – keep supporting !!!

Just when we looked like gaining the advantage – Irish would close the door, but just when the movement looked like being shut down again, BANG – away we went and crossed for another 5 pointer narrowing the gap to just a single point. The conversion skimmed the upright – narrowly missing – but our opponents were starting to implode. The pressure we were building up was unbelievable.

Before we knew it – Med had gone the length of the field and scored again to scenes of pure jubilation in the stands – and on the field. The conversion sailing over for a 6 point lead – was the unthinkable about to happen – surely it was close to full-time??!!!

Eyes darted to the clock – still 10minutes remaining – THIS IS FINAL’s FOOTBALL – this game was still anyone’s !

Med had to go back to those cold Tuesday nights – those kick-off drills and all the “keeping it simple” plays – to keep possession and to tackle anything and everything in front of us. We were so determined – if a bus busted through the barriers – Med was going to stop it tonight !!

5 minutes to go – interchanges all gone – Irish had the ball in our quarter and were pressing. A converted try and they win. Starved of the pill, Med were hanging on, just, but the commitment was incredible.

With our goal line defence mirroring the Mike Guest, Charlie Elliot, Dan Murray, Andrew, McLean, Ant Reynolds, Angus Moxon, Matt Ruttley, Benny McArdle, Reggie Miller era’s (even though Reggie is still playing for us :-D), this new breed of UQ Med soldiers were unstoppable.

With 4 tries and 3 conversions in Med’s favour to the opposition’s 3 tries, 1 conversion and 1 penalty the scoreboard read 26-20. Could we hold on – could Med win the semi-final that we weren’t supposed to win …. We were about to find out as the final minute on the clock ticked over.

Come On UQ !!!!! No one was getting through us tonight – we’d worked so hard and deserved it…..  Irish – still threatening ……. Penalty – Med !!!!!!!!!!!!!  YEEEESSSSSSSS !!!!!!!!!

Watching the ball sail over the side line – watching the ref bring the whistle to his lips for the last time – and UQ Med Rugby have won 26 – 20 !!!!

Excitement, thrill, relief, joy, happiness, exhilaration, pride; every emotion possible simply floods the senses and to see the reaction from everyone there – on and off the field – is why you play team sports.

I commiserated with the Opposition Coach and manger and thanked them for an unbelievable game of Rugby – played in good spirit, frenetic pace, hard and tough – but fair; then headed to Lucy, Dougal, Alistair and then the team….. so proud.

We had to play our best to be competitive tonight – but this team had done so much more – gutsy, gritty, diligent – and deserved winners !!!

The passion in the cheers and songs rang out across Ballymore and the surrounding suburbs. I’m told we woke patients from deep sleeps at the RBWH – so loud was the noise (ok I clearly made that up – but the noise was deafening!!)

Finally back into the change rooms for another round of cheers and songs and a stirring rendition of Happy Birthday for Lucy to top it all off. Happy 21st to Greg Barlow as well – nice way to celebrate it !!

To Harry & Noah who have been unbelievable this year behind the scenes, at training and on the field – thank you for your fantastic efforts – what a win !!!!!

BUT – it’s not over yet … Wests beat Brothers by a point – meaning we have them to face next Friday – back here at Ballymore.

Enjoy the celebrations tonight – thoroughly deserved, and I’ll see you at Med Revue on Sunday night and at training on Tuesday night.

Sadly, I’ll only be there in spirit though on Friday night as I have a conference OS next week (which I will be trying to get out of but doubt I’ll be able to unfortunately).

One thing is assured though – everyone I can muster in Thailand will be thinking, praying, cheering and wishing you all well – none more than myself and here’s to a season that just keeps going !!!

I can’t wait to hear how you go and here’s hoping there’s another trip to Ballymore a week later !!!!

Gentlemen – we can do this !!!

Best wishes

Cheers& Go Med!!

Mark

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