"The happiest day of my life": jubiliant Lismore wins shield
"THE happiest day of my life."
That was jubilant Jack Pinchin's verdict after helping his Lismore City side seal Far North Coast Rugby Union grand final success.
City overcome a spirited Wollongbar Alstonville 36-28 in a thrilling contest at Lismore's Crozier Field.
Twenty-year-old Pinchin, who kicked four conversions and a penalty to help his side claim the win, said the triumph was as sweet as it got.
"We've worked so hard for this for the last nine months," he said. "We've been waiting all year for this.
"We stuck to our game plan and just kept working away to the end.
"This is the happiest day of my life."
Wollongbar opened up a 12-0 lead early on before City fought back to lead 28-21 at the break.
The match turned just after half time when Wollongbar's Nat Rugueira was red-carded for a spear tackle on Pinchin.
"It was pretty physical out there," the City fullback said. "Those decisions happen.
"I don't think it had much bearing (on the result)."
Sam Johnston went over moments afterwards for City and despite battling to the end, Wollongbar could find no way back.
The victory prompted jubilant scenes of celebrations among City players and officials.
Coach Craig Whitby received the traditional soaking from the water container during the post-match festivities.
The win was also sweet revenge for minor premiers City after earlier losing to the same opponents during the finals series.
City ace Matt Bermingham, who has been with the club since the under-13s and was experiencing his first grand final victory, was almost speechless with happiness.
"I can't say too much," the 26-year-old said.
"I'm proud of the boys. We've worked so hard over the last few months.
"I'm just glad it's over, to be honest. That was a long second half.
"Our forwards really dug in today. They really lifted us.
"I'm just so happy."
Tom Bishop and Sam Johnston both finished with two tries for City, with Simon Gava also going over.
James Gardiner, Adam Law and Jason Higgins went over for Wollongbar.
Ballina defeated Lismore 31-17 in the Reserve Grade final.
There was better luck for the city side in the President's Cup, with the Greens defeating Mullumbimby 19-16.
Full scores/scorers: see page 26.