GAME ON: Avondale's Matt Ross tackles Northern Force's Ryan Walker during a brutal qualifying final in the Northern Districts Rugby League.
GAME ON: Avondale's Matt Ross tackles Northern Force's Ryan Walker during a brutal qualifying final in the Northern Districts Rugby League. Neil Redfern

Tigers crawl into decider

LEAGUE: The quest for back-to-back titles is alive and kicking for Avondale, but only just... after they survived the game of the season in the Northern Districts Rugby League.

The Tigers are into the grand final after beating the Northern Force 24-20 in golden point extra time on Sunday in the qualifying final.

Tigers' Dylan Wagner was the match winner as he scored the winning try.

"It was the toughest game of the year for us, that is for sure," Tigers coach Luke Owen said.

"The Force were unreal, full credit must go to them."

The Northern Force led 8-0 before leading 14-12 against last year's premiers.

Avondale then fought back to lead 20-14 before a late converted try to the Force sent the game into extra time.

"We're just happy to get the win," Owen said.

"We coughed up a lot of ball early and got better as the game went on.

"Both sides were bashing each other and the defence was pretty brutal."

Avondale will take the week off while the Northern Force count the cost of the loss.

The side lost Gary Stehbens and Player of the Year winner Tim McIntosh with a suspected calf injury 30 minutes into the game before losing John Smallcombe in the final few minutes with a broken jaw.

"He (John) will not play (this week) and will be missed because he's a handy player," O'Sullivan said.

"Tim felt a twinge in his calf muscle and it could be a muscle tear."

McIntosh is unlikely to play against Gin Gin this week, who won over Burnett Heads 44-8 in the other game.

O'Sullivan said he needed to regather the side after the demoralising loss.

"I couldn't have asked any more from our team and I thought we were the best side on the day," he said.

"Gin Gin beat us in the last start (a 36-32 loss in round 17) because we took them lightly.

The hardest part is to to get the players up," he said.

The side faces Gin Gin at Miriam Vale on Sunday at 2.45pm.



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