The Palm Island Skipjacks regained the Bill Coolburra Shield for the first time since 2011 by beating the Australian Army Thunder 50-32 in their annual clash as part of Anzac Day commemorations at 1300SMILES Stadium today.
The Shield history has been full of close matches and this one was no different until the Skipjacks managed to turn a 28-all scoreline into an 18-point win with former Cowboy Obe Geia grabbing a double.
In the first half, the two teams were locked at 6-all, 12-all, 16-all and 22-all before a try after the half-time siren gave the Skipjacks a six-point lead to take into the break.
Three straight tries finally allowed Palm Island to break away midway through the second half, although Army co-captain Mick Hamer did try to lift his team back into the contest with a solo effort with six minutes remaining.
Geia provided the final try and Fred Haines Jr’s seventh goal of the afternoon saw the Skipjacks hit the 50 mark.
Started in 2008, the Shield honours Bill Coolburra, a rugby league-loving Palm Islander whose 17 years in the Army including serving in Vietnam in 1965-66 as a member of 1 Field Squadron in support of 1 RAR & 6 RAR.
PALM ISLAND SKIPJACKS 50 (Obe Geia jnr 2, Fred Haines jnr 2, Mickeal Sibley, Josiah Geia, Toby Hero, Fred Bulsey, Clinton Burns jnr tries, Fred Haines jnr 7 goals) d AUSTRALIAN ARMY THUNDER 32 (Dylan Buckingham, Ross Hunter, Ben Carter, Mahn Darley, Adam Fisher, Michael Hamer tries, Mahn Darley 4 goals).