JOSH Cale’s Albury Thunder will go down as one of Group 9 rugby league’s great teams after securing successive premierships with a pulsating 30-20 victory against Gundagai at Wagga’s Equex Centre yesterday.
The Thunder became only the fourth club in the competition’s history to salute in successive seasons when powerhouse forward Mitch Davis and star fullback Ben Jeffery orchestrated a brilliant come-from-behind win.
Trailing 16-8 after 30 minutes, Thunder refused to buckle under enormous pressure from Gundagai with Cale declaring the win as equal to anything he has been involved with in sport.
“It’s special,” Cale said.
“These blokes never give up and words can’t say how proud I am of them.
“We have had one game in five weeks, but not one person complained.
“All they did was roll up their sleeves and fought and fought until the end.
“The scary thing is that most of the side are 22-year-olds and they are going to be around for a long time.
“Grand finals aren’t given to you and Gundagai made sure we earned this one.”
Only Turvey Park, Kangaroos (twice) and Tumut have won successive premierships since the 1970s with Thunder president Rick O’Connell saying it was more of a dream than a reality when it lured Cale to the Border in 2009.
“You dream about these things, but you are never sure they will come to reality,” O’Connell said.
“We put good structures in place with a good coach, good committee and good volunteers and it’s paid off.
“Days like today aren’t easy on the blood pressure or the heart, but I’ll tell you what they are great reward for all of our supporters and everyone involved.
“The players did themselves proud.”
And Cale has secured most of his list for next year with Willie Heta, Davis, Ben Jeffery, Lou Goodwin and Jake Grace having recommitted.