Truganina Rabbitohs have stormed to their first NRL Victoria first grade premiership with a 52-16 pummelling of Altona Roosters in the grand final at Haines Drive Reserve on Saturday.
The size of the margin in the season decider was a true reflection of the Rabbitohs dominance this season.
The Rabbitohs suffered only one loss in 2019, which came against the Roosters way back on June 1.
They won their final 10 games of the season to be crowned premiers for the first time.
To underline the strength of the Rabbitohs men’s section, their reserves team won the premiership earlier in the day.
“It was a big day for the club,” Rabbitohs coach Frank Mulipola said. “I think the boys will be enjoying the whole week.
“It’s only our third year in seniors and second year in first grade.”
Truganina entered the grand final red hot favourites after a succession of blow-out wins leading up to the finals.
However, the Rabbitohs internally never felt comfortable, simply because the Roosters were the one team to beat them during the season and the fact they had to survive an extra point thriller against Werribee Bears in the semi-finals to advance to the grand final.
Mulipola believes the last-gasp win over the Bears was instructional for his players.
“I think it was all about the way we prepared,” he said. “We learnt from the Bears game how to deal with handling pressure better in semi-finals and grand finals.
“We worked on that over the last couple of weeks.
“The boys really were told just to enjoy the game and play a Rabbitohs-style game, which is a fast-paced game.
“We were able to do that and then the tries started to come in the first 20 minutes and that really set the platform for the rest of the game.”
Truganina was in full flight in attack, putting on a show for the big crowd.
“The boys have been working hard on defence since the beginning,” Mulipola said. “We also spend equal time on the way we attack.
“We make sure that we play our style of game, a quick game because we have one of the smallest packs in the competition, so we need to play the pace game against the bigger boys, especially since most teams come down the middle.”
Truganina hooker James Aspden took out the grand final MVP.
“He had a cracker game,” Mulipola said.
Aspden, one of two vice-captains, is part of a three-player leadership group with half-back Keni Blair (captain) and prop Tiui Misi (vice captain). The trio have been outstanding leaders for Truganina this season.
“Those three have done an outstanding job leading the team on and off the field,” Mulipola said. “I think it’s made a big difference to the overall performance of the team this year.”
Outside of the leaders, Rudy Misi was a force for Truganina. Misi made a number of barnstorming runs to put the Roosters defence on the back foot. “That was the best try of the match when he just ran through their whole forward pack to score,” Mulipola said.