Group 11 2018: Change looms at Forbes Magpies but Grace confident success can go on

ON THE WAY: Forbes players celebrate one of the Magpies tries during Sunday's Group 11 grand final. Photo: AMY McINTYRE
ON THE WAY: Forbes players celebrate one of the Magpies tries during Sunday's Group 11 grand final. Photo: AMY McINTYRE

As soon as the full-time whistle sounded on Sunday and Forbes fans streamed on to Apex Oval to celebrate a famous Group 11 grand final win, there was talk it was the last match for a number of Magpies.

The 23-22 decider win over the previously unbeaten Dubbo CYMS was a classic, and both Ben Robinson and Brad McMillan said after the game it would their last in the black and white.

There was also whispers of captain Jake Grace and Bob Weir medallist Ben Maguire hanging up the boots.

While Grace didn’t say as much, he did state no matter who runs out next year the club is poised to continue its success.

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The current crop of Magpies can now lay claim to being the best in the club’s history, with few others from Forbes able to say they’re two-time premiers.

The grand final win on Sunday followed on from the premiership success the club achieved in 2016, a game in which the Magpies also beat a previously undefeated Fishies outfit.

“A lot of the young boys have tasted success now and there’s boys who are only around 21 that have two premierships under their belt and they’ll be the driving force going ahead,” Grace said.

“There is a few boys hanging the boots up but that won’t matter. It will be forgotten and it will be all about the boys who are there next year.”

McMillan’s final game for the club was one to remember. He made a rampaging start to the match before spending a long stint on the turf with injury.

He revealed after the game he’d broken a rib, but there was no way he wasn’t going to stay on.

“I can’t breathe now … but this is my last game and I didn’t want to finish on the sideline,” he said.

“There’s been a bit of talk (about retiring). Benny Robo, Gracey and Benny Maguire ... whether or not that happens, who knows, but I’m definitely done.”

Robinson said the same.

“It’s good to finish on a high. That’ll do me,” the tough front-rower smiled.

“I’m 30 this year, I’ve got other priorities now. I need to concentrate a bit more on work and I think I’ve sacrificed a fair bit for footy.”

McMillan and Robinson were strong throughout the momentous victory, as was Grace. However, the skipper was well shackled by CYMS and didn’t have as much of an impact as he has at other times this season.

Instead, many of the side’s younger players took centre stage.

Farren Lamb was swamped by family and friends at full-time after hitting the match-winning field goal but the 19-year-old and his 21-year-old halves partner, Mitch Burke, produced performances well beyond their years.

The hooker rotation of Hayden Bolam and Jaiden Burke was also key to the success, and Grace confessed at full-time he made a promise the former before he returned to the club midway through the year after a stint in Wollongong.

SAVOURING IT: Jake Grace sits on the shoulders of teammate Jake Haddrill during Sunday's title celebrations. Photo: AMY McINTYRE

SAVOURING IT: Jake Grace sits on the shoulders of teammate Jake Haddrill during Sunday's title celebrations. Photo: AMY McINTYRE

“We always put lot of faith in our juniors and ask a lot of them but they step up to the mark,” Grace said.

“Hayden Bolam has been outstanding in the time we’ve had him back and I told him and his old man we’d win a competition when we had him back.

“He and Jaiden (Burke) add so much to the pack and they were unreal. The whole side were outstanding and that’s the reason why we got the victory.”

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