After a two-year Covid enforced hiatus, the NRL Victoria Awards returned on Saturday night at the RACV Club.
The event celebrated the achievements of the rugby league community within Victoria, with players, volunteers and key stakeholders from around the state coming together for a night of celebration and recognition.
Truganina Rabbitohs point-scoring machine Ben McIntyre took home the Storm Premiership Men's First Grade Player of the Year, while experienced Werribee Bears forward Tiana Kani took out the Storm Premiership Women's First Grade Player of the Year.
With both vote counts going down to the wire, McIntyre held off a fast finish from Bears half Zachary Holstein, while Kani claimed all three votes in the Bears final game of the season to edge out teammate Jade Te Aute and Rabbitohs hooker Katrina Edwards by one vote.
McIntyre enjoyed a season to remember, notching up 23 tries, 115 goals and 322 points as the Rabbitohs went on to become the Storm Premiership Men's First Grade Premiers.
Kani also tasted grand final success this year, leading from the front as the Bears edged out the Truganina Rabbitohs in the Storm Premiership Women's First Grade Grand Final.
In her final year playing down in Melbourne, Kani will now bow out a premiership player and Player of the Year winner in the same season.
Sunbury Tigers captain Alti Porter took home the Storm Premiership Men's Second Grade Player of the Year, while Waverley Oakleigh Panthers forward Romia Roi was named the Storm Premiership Men's Third Grade Player of the Year.
Takitau Mapapalangi and Koreti Leilua were named Men's and Women's Representative Player's of the Year, while Jason Warr was awarded the Contribution to Representative Program Award.
A premiership player with the CSU Mud Dogs in the Women's League Tag, Georgia Seton was named Murray Cup Women's Player of the Year, with back-to-back best on ground performances in the final two rounds of the competition enough to edge out the second placed Sarah Patterson by one-vote.
After an undefeated season with the Wodonga Wombats, premiership winning halfback Bailey Muras was also named the Murray Cup Men's Player of the Year.
The night also recognised the tireless work so many do in the club space, with numerous community awards presented on the night to those that have gone above and beyond this season.
With over 200 nominations submitted for volunteers right across Victoria, it was Elly Buchanan from the Pakenham Eels that was named the 2022 Volunteer of the Year.
Spencer Kassimir was rewarded for his work in the junior rugby league space by being awarded the Referee Award while Mia Ami took out the Teacher of the Year Award.
Full list of 2022 NRL Victoria Awards Night Winners:
Men's First Grade Best and Fairest: Ben McIntyre
Women's First Grade Best and Fairest: Tiana Kani
Men's Second Grade Best and Fairest: Alti Porter
Men's Third Grade Best and Fairest: Romia Roi
Murray Cup Men's Player of the Year: Bailey Muras
Murray Cup Women's Player of the Year: Georgia Seton
Volunteer of the Year Award: Elly Buchanan
Coach of the Year Award: Damien Riki
Referee Award: Spencer Kassimir
Teacher of the Year Award: Mia Ami
Spirit of League Award: Eastern Raptors
Female Representative Player of the Year: Koreti Leilua
Male Representative Player of the Year: Takitau Mapapalangi
Contribution to Representative Program Award: Jason Warr
Top Pointscorer Men's: Ben McIntyre (322 points)
Top Pointscorer Women's: Kerry Vaivao (64 points)