Walgett's seventh Koori Knockout triumph may just be the most special yet.
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Walgett Aboriginal Connection (WAC) returned to the summit of the time-honoured knockout on Monday afternoon after a stirring come-from-behind grand final win over Wiradjuri Aboriginal Rivers (WAR).
The all-western decider was a special one, as WAR shot out to a 12-0 lead early on before the knockout powerhouse of Walgett rallied and went on to score a stirring 22-12 win in front of a bumper crowd at Tuggerah.
The win was particularly sweet after WAC was beaten by the Newcastle All Blacks in the final just 12 months earlier.
"I've been going to the Knockout for a long time and that's probably the greatest win we've ever had," coach Matt Rose said post-game.
"Boys, I've never seen anything so special."
Monday's victory was WAC's first since 2014 and means it will host the 52nd edition of what has been described as the modern day corroboree in 2024.
Dubbo hosted the event in 2015 after WAC's last win and would be a leading contender again to do so again next year.
The final pitted one of the foundation clubs of the Knockout in WAC against something of a newcomer, with WAR playing in the prestigious carnival for just the third time.
It was a star-studded decider with Joel Thompson captaining a WAC side which also featured Jack Wighton, Ben Barba and Isaiah Tass while the WAR side was headlined by Blake Ferguson, Braydon Trindall, Tyrone Roberts, Brian Kelly and Jesse Ramien.
In the very first minute Cronulla Sharks player Trindall showed his class by kicking a 40/20 but it wasn't until the 10th minute his side was able to break through some resolute WAC defence.
A smart run from Trindall led to Gold Coast Titans speedster Treymain Spry crossing for the game's first try.
Captain Bailey Hartwig converted and the Parkes junior helped form a strong western area core alongside the likes of Jack Kavanagh, Clay Priest, Alex Bonham, Aidan Ryan, Claude Gordon and Luke Thompson.
The lead grew to 12-0 eight minutes later when some smart work from Kelly led to a second for Spry.
But WAC soon started to find its groove after some early errors and it hit back on 29 minutes former Dally M winner Barba sliced through to get his side on the board.
Barba then produced a moment of magic when he chipped inside his own half four minutes later and a flying Chris Woodbridge collected the ball and showed great pace to race away and help make it 12-10 at half-time.
WAR had chances early in the second half and Trindall went close to scoring before it turned into a physical arm wrestle with both sides patiently going set-for-set.
Something had to give and on 62 minutes Nathan Rose went from dummyhalf and threw a dummy before racing through the middle of the park and then a simple draw and pass put South Sydney's Tass over under the black dot.
That put WAC in front for the first time and on 70 minutes that lead grew as player of the tournament and electric fullback Latrell Siegwalt showed neat footwork to score what proved to be the clincher.
The Rose family has a long and storied history with WAC and as well as Matt as coach the side also had his brothers Trent and George again in attendance.
Trent was ruled out due to a leg injury while George played limited minutes and came off the bench with 15 seconds to go in the final and took the last hit-up.
"It's special," Trent Rose told NITV last season.
"We didn't have the best draw again but us boys, like we always do, we find it deep within.
"When we're around each other we're family and we're brothers and it showed out there today that family sticks together.
"They threw everything at us but it wasn't going to break us because nothing can break family."
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