After coming back from the dead earlier in the season, anything is now possible for Altona Roosters in the NRL Victoria first grade.
The Roosters started the season 0-5, but have been red hot ever since, winning 12 of their next 13 games on their way to the grand final.
It took a dramatic golden point in extra time for the Roosters to come through with a 25-24 victory over three-time defending champions Werribee Bears in the preliminary final at Langama Park on Saturday.
A long range field goal from wunderkind five-eighth Pita-Will Purcell clinched the win that has sent the Roosters to the grand final, where they will meet the Truganina Rabbitohs in a decider at Haines Drive Reserve on Saturday.
Roosters player-coach Jackson Brenchley was shocked by the audacity of Purcell to attempt the field goal, but when he did, he was pleasantly surprised when it went through.
“I was trying to do the percentage play and kick the ball into the corner,” Brenchley said.
“He said ‘nah, give me the ball’ and I was in shock when he kicked it. I couldn’t believe it, the game was over and we’ve just won.
“It was a risky play, but these young kids just don’t get shaken by those moments.
“I don’t know how they do it.”
Altona was in total command at half-time.
The Roosters led 16-4 at the break and seemed to be coasting to victory.
Werribee would have none of it.
The Bears are a never-say-die outfit.
You don’t win three titles in a row and merely wave the white flag.
The Bears launched an incredible comeback to force extra time.
With all of the momentum sapped out of his team, Brenchley thought his side’s chances might have diminished.
“They were the dominant side in the second half,” he said.
“They had all the momentum really.”
Purcell showed once again why he is so highly rated at Altona.
The match-winning field goal was merely the icing on the cake of another strong game from the teenager.
“He was one of our best all game,” Brenchley said.
“He’s very instinctive and just plays what’s in front of him.
“He controls the game, gets the ball in hand and he’s always got options.
“He made a couple of breaks through having numbers around him and had the defence guessing what he was going to do next.”
Altona captain Joseph Smith and Mananui Te Heu Heu were workhorses up in the Roosters forward pack. The Peato cousins – Shayne and Jordan – scored a try apiece, as did Lukas George and Josh Ka.
Altona will be shooting for its first premiership since 2012.
The Roosters are the most successful team in the competition’s history with seven premierships, but have not featured on the biggest day on the calendar since a losing grand final in 2013.