Ingham Daily Press

Keeping People Connected

‘Will was there with them’: Last-gasp Crushers victory dedicated to late dummy-half Will Murdoch

Crushers retire Will Murdoch's jersey after emotional comeback win against Brothers.

Crushers 24-20 Brothers (half-time 10-16)

Tries: TJ Duncan (2), Shaun Devietti, Grant Martin, Jack Butcher.
Conversions: Grant Martin (2).

IN their first home game since losing their inspirational number 9, Crushers under-13s scored a last-gasp try to seal a 24-20 win over Brothers – a victory that was dedicated to the late Will Murdoch.

The Herbert River side bounced back from a first-half mauling to turn the game on its head and snatch an emotional win, secured by a late try from Jack Butcher.

At the final whistle the players united in the middle of the field before raising Will’s jersey and carrying it off the pitch – a tribute that will never be forgotten.

His family and friends were among a fired-up crowd that cheered the team off as they walked Will’s number 9 shirt to the dressing room, and later presented it to his father Andy.

Will’s grandfather Peter Sheahan said: ‘I reckon young Will was with them right at the end. It made the hair stand up on the back of your neck.

‘They presented Andy with Will’s number 9 jersey. Everyone has been saying the same thing – Will was there with them.’

‘Everyone has been saying the same thing – Will was there with them at the end.’

Will Murdoch’s grandfather, Peter Sheahan.

Coach Tony Iafano called it ‘the proudest moment of my football career’.

He said: ‘My favourite moment in my footballing career wouldn’t be playing – it would be coaching the boys to this win.

‘The war cry in the dressing room afterwards was sung with so much passion. There were a lot of tears.

‘It was a big day for the boys, being so young. At the end of the game we retired the number 9 jersey. That is Will’s jersey.

‘The boys came together in the middle of the park. I went out and gave them Will’s jersey. They got together in two lines and they walked it off.

‘It showed how much it meant to them to win the game – and how much Will meant to them.’

‘It showed how much it meant for them to win – and how much Will meant to them’.

Crushers’ under-13s coach Tony Iafano.

Crushers had been stunned early on, as Brothers scored straight from Herbert River’s kick-off – and were two tries up within ten minutes.

Brothers’ number 7 Bradley Pilchowski scored three first-half tries, converting one.

TJ Duncan scored twice for the home side – and Iafano said Crushers were lucky to go in 16-10 down at the break.

He said: ‘We were pretty quiet in the first-half. There wasn’t a lot of talking. The day might have got to the boys a little bit.

‘In our team-talk we spoke about playing football. Nothing fancy. Just to give 100%. That’s all you can ask for. I tell the boys if they give 100% the score doesn’t matter.

‘We reminded them that all the Sheahans and Murdochs were there and it was the first home game after the tragedy.’

He added: ‘Brothers scored straight from our kick-off. We were pretty up against it. I didn’t know if we were going to end up getting beat by 60.

‘When they came off at half-time they were buggered. And half-defeated. There wasn’t a lot of talk.’

After Iafano’s half-time call-to-arms, Brothers’ dangerman Pilchowski became a marked player.

An almighty second-half saw his side fight their way back into the game – before grabbing the unlikeliest of victories at the end.

Iafano said: ‘We reminded them that we played against Centrals last year – when they came back and drew the game after being well down at the break.

‘It felt like a win. I just reminded them about that.

‘They came out firing. There was a lot of talk. They kept turning up.

‘Kalen Corradi was outstanding.’

Giant forward Shaun Devietti and Grant Martin – who was a pallbearer at Will’s funeral – grabbed a try each.

Brothers’ Pilchowski scored his fourth with Jessie James also scoring for the away team, to set up a tense last five minutes – with Crushers trailing 20-18.

Iafano added: ‘We were 18-20 down with a couple of minutes to go. It was forwards and backwards for the last five minutes.

‘Then Jack Butcher dummied a pass to Shaun Devietti. They bought it – and he went under the posts.

‘There was a big release of emotion when we won.’

Iafano said that his players had mustered up young Murdoch’s spirit in the second-half.

‘The way the game panned out, it was in Will’s style. Never give up. That was a big characteristic of Will.

‘We could be 20 points down with ten minutes to go – and he’d just keep fighting and making his teammates battle, right to the end.’

‘The way the game panned out, it was in Will’s style. Never give up. That was a big characteristic of Will.’

Crushers’ coach Tony Iafano

The side played the match with only 15 players, meaning they had two substitutes compared to Brothers’ seven.

Iafano said: ‘Brothers were the better side on the day, but we never gave up. We showed great spirit. I am so proud of the boys.’

Crushers under-13s’ victory was dedicated to their late teammate Will Murdoch, who is pictured here at the Wally Lewis statue.

Story By

Subscribe To Receive Weekly News Updates