Heroes new and old celebrate Brothers’ win in Australian Club Championship

Sat, Mar 16, 2024, 11:35 PM
Jim Tucker
by Jim Tucker
Brothers celebrated their first Australian Club Championship since 2010 in a 25-18 win over Randwick
Brothers celebrated their first Australian Club Championship since 2010 in a 25-18 win over Randwick

Reserve halfback Will Cartwright was the unlikely hero who scooted to the tryline when the Australian Club Championship was in the balance at Crosby Park on Saturday.

A crowd of nearly 4000 found delirious relish in cheering the pacy substitute to the corner to secure the trophy for Brothers inside the final 10 minutes.

The final score of 25-18 reflected four early lead changes, a Randwick spirit that always kept them in the contest and the win the host club desperately wanted.

Brothers lock Will Wilson perfectly summed up what it meant for Brothers to win the Australian Club Championship for the first time since 2010.

“You don’t know how much it really means until you see the smiles on the faces of the Brothers old heads and get their ‘well done’,” Wilson said.

“A day like this doesn’t come around very often…a great crowd, at Crosby Park and a win over another of Australia’s great clubs.”

Cartwright, 20, will have his part retold any time the Brethren play in this fixture in decades to come.

He’d played just one phase of first grade rugby last season until he was whistled into action from the bench in the second half.

He’d always played the bridesmaid as a Nudgee College Second XV halfback or Colts 2 premiership-winner until a ragged Randwick moment at the back of a lineout.

Cartwright toed through the loose ball, got a Brothers’ bounce and hared the final 15m to the corner.

He was almost close enough to grab a cold beer off the ice from the pop-up carpark corner bar but that would have to wait.

“I got the bounce. That’s definitely the biggest crowd I’ve played in front of. I know how much everyone wanted that win,” Cartwright enthused.

“Playing beside (Reds squad flyhalf) Lawson Creighton really helped. He steered me.”

The Brethren got their pre-match pump-up from two sources. New coach Ben McCormack partnered with well-groomed 2023 premiership coach Brendan Gabbett, who rode off into the sunset to run Wynnum’s Chinwags Barber after last year’s breakthrough.

One thing hadn’t changed.

“Will Wilson is the DNA of this team with his hard carries and tackles. He’s always effective and you don’t know what he means to the side until he’s not playing,” Gabbett said proudly.

“How good is this day?”

Typical was Wilson’s little pop pass in the lead-up to the Camilo Guido try that got Brothers in front.

Brothers hosted superbly, with free entry to three games and myriad food and beverage options for a boisterous grassroots roll-up.

The Maroochydore Swans player who figured in the first curtainraiser at 12.15pm might even remember some of it because he was still swaying solo on the makeshift carpark dancefloor seven hours later with glassy eyes.

There were good rugby stories everywhere at a level of the game immune from the tortured Eddie Jones saga of 2023.

After Brothers’ first try from Creighton, pacy winger Guido crossed for the 10-8 lead. He was born in South Sudan and never played rugby until he was schooled at Gregory Terrace. He was back from a shoulder injury in style.

“I was first introduced to Aussie Rules but everyone played rugby at school. I love the speed and style of the game and it’s been rugby ever since,” Guido said.

Brothers and Randwick ignited the modern Australian Club Championship 50 years ago in 1974. Incredibly, there is one winning family link across those five decades.

Peter Conran, a prop in the 1974 win, and pencil-slim cousin Michael James, a winner in the wild 1985 cage-fight, congratulated centre Paddy James after his winning role in 2024.

“This win is a great feeling. He hadn’t trained much with us because of Reds duties but Lawson fitted right back in. You could feel how calm and smart he was out there,” James said.

“Randwick kept coming so we had to be very brave on defence which is what we’d focussed on with ‘Pup’ (McCormack) in the lead-up.”

The Galloping Greens were gathering momentum midway through the second half when they produced a 95m try for which Randwick are famous.

Flyhalf Kurtley Beale, looking fit and eager, shimmied and darted through in front of his own goalposts to ignite the try finished by the pacy “Lebanese Lamborghini” Christian Yassmin. With the scores closed to 17-13, it was anyone’s game.

Brothers took the handsome Power Challenge Trophy, added another chapter to their storied history and club rugby is officially underway for 2024.

Brothers 25 - Tries: Will Cartwright, Camilo Guido, Lawson Creighton, Isaac Tarabay, Penalty Goal: Lawson Creighton, Conversion: Lawson Creighton


Randwick 18 - Tries: Christian Yassmin, Ben Sugars, Louis Robinson, Penalty Goal: Ky Willoughby