Queensland v New South Wales – you couldn’t have asked for a better Gold Medal match at the Australian Country Championships!
With the home side 4-0 down going into the second half, the undefeated Maroon side had it all to do. We caught up with the ever-popular Luke Ingwersen to find out how Queensland came home with Gold.
What a game and result against NSW! Did the team expect to get the win?
You always go into a tournament aiming for the best but because we’re a team of players from all over Queensland who have played against other in previous tournaments. We don’t always know how we are going to gel together and that’s the big one, to get the guys to gel together over such a short period of time. It was a good effort from the coaches to bring out the strengths of everyone and bring everyone together.
When we went through to the semi-finals undefeated, we thought we were in quite a good position for the finals. But then at half-time, we were 4-0 down, that was a terrible start for us and a great start from NSW. With the final being played in a 30-metre pool and with it being such a long stop-start game, we knew we had plenty of time to claw it back.
I think the boys showed the real Queensland spirit of never give and in the second-half, we played the percentages and did well to come back.
You mentioned the team spirit, how did that develop over the tournament?
It was really good, the coaches made sure that we were all part of the squad. We were lucky enough to have the Maroon team and the Black team in Rockhampton. Instead of having 13 guys taking on the world, we had 26! We supported them and they supported us, the team spirit there was a real advantage. There was also the pride of being able to wear the Queensland cap in your home state, that meant a hell of a lot.
The Queensland Black teams is a development side with a lot of young players. Do you think Queensland Maroon’s success over NSW will inspire these players and hopefully replicate the performance?
Look I hope so. We talked a lot about the culture that we want and the pathways for water polo in Queensland. We want the development team to play in that tournament, to play alongside other guys. For us to get the gold, it shows that winning is possible, the hard work and getting into that team and playing well pays off.
The Queensland Black team did a fantastic job as well. They stuck it to every team and when we played each other, they didn’t hold back against the Maroon team. I hope in the next few years, those guys make up the next generation of players in Queensland, as they are great players. We want them to take it on.
Looking back at the finals, you were 4-0 down going into the second-half, did a home crowd help the team to find that little extra to get the win?
It was huge! It’s not often I get goosebumps!
We had a good team talk at the three-quarter time and at the start the fourth, the momentum was definitely going our way. We won the swim up and the crowd went absolutely crazy. We’re like, this is good, they believe in us, so let’s show them that we can do it.
With 50 seconds to go, they called a time-out and the scores were even and they had the extra man advantage, so it was a really good opportunity for NSW to grab the game by the neck. We were able to block out their extra-man and we called the time-out, the game was still locked at 7-7 and when we had that team talk, the crowd was so loud, we couldn’t even hear what we were saying in the huddle.
I had no idea what was going on, I just said, yeah let’s do this! We just swam down and were able to find the goal. There is never too much of a good thing and having loud, supportive fans in the grandstand was definitely helpful and it was just such a proud moment.
Had the team prepared for the fact that it could have gone to penalty shoot-out?
It probably sounds negative but that’s what I was planning for, goals were hard to come by in that game.
It was 7-all when we called the time-out, so we had the attack, I tried to say in the time-out, though I’m sure no one heard it, let’s just hold the ball, if we get a shot that’s good but let’s prepare for a shoot-out. We’ve got a really good goalie and we could pick five really good shooters, I think that we would have got them in the shoot-out anyway.
That’s what I was thinking but to get that goal from Matt with two-seconds to go, we will definitely take that goal over a shoot-out any day!
Click here to watch the final seconds of the thrilling QLD v NSW game.