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Highlands primed for junior finals

by Cameron Stallard - Central Division

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While the finals heat up in the National Rugby League, the region is also preparing to watch the game’s future stars at tomorrow's Central Highlands Junior Rugby League grand final in Clermont.

Three clubs are in action across the three games, with Emerald Brothers starring in all three finals, including the inter-club rivalry in the Under 13s decider.

The major semi final between Brothers Blue and White two weeks ago was an epic contest, keeping every spectator on the edge of their seats and tomorrow's affair should be no different.

White clinched victory in the dying minutes with a try to steal the game from Blue, earning the team a week off whilst their counterparts were forced to take on the Gemfields in last week’s preliminary final.

The Giants tested the Blues across the park, making a case why they should play in the final, but the Brethren were too strong - but only just, winning 14-12.

As both Brothers teams prepare to duel once again, the game will be fought up front, with juggernaut Tikaimoa Kaono (White) up against Blue’s Jeremiah Taungahihifo.

Making metres up front will lay the platform for halves Clancy Harrison (White) and Griffin Keating (Blue) to steer their respective sides across the try line.

This game is too close to tip, but one thing is certain - the club should be proud of the talent that has been developed in this age group.

It’s deja vu in the Under 15s decider with Brothers and Emerald Tigers clashing once again in a grand final replay.

The Brethren are hoping to avenge last year’s defeat at the death and they hung onto a 28-22 victory in the major semi final two weeks ago.

The game was a very physical battle and tomorrow's encounter will be no different.

Props in both teams; Adam Twaddle and Harry Slack for Brothers and Shannon Gray and Jackson Taylor for Tigers, have gained the crucial metres for their respective sides to play on the back of and this will be one of the defining factors come tomorrow.

Also, both hookers; Will Nixon (Brothers) and Dalton Bean (Tigers) will look for quick play-the-balls to keep the speed and ascendency of the ruck flowing.

It’s been close every time these sides have met with nothing separating them and the big dance tomorrow will be no different.

To finish the day, the Peak Downs Pirates will face-off against rivals Emerald Brothers for the Under 17s premiership.

Whilst Brothers were the early favourites at the start of the season, the Pirates have upset them in recent weeks and secured the minor premiership with a big win over them in the last round.

Brothers will be hoping five-eighth and leading points scorer Tristan Browne is fit after battling a niggling injury over recent weeks as he holds the key for their attack.

The same can be said for Peak Downs’ Mitch Paterson who partners captain Jack Hargrave in the halves. These two have been the kingpins in ensuring the Pirates’ edge players score tries.

This game should be intriguing as Brothers will want to turn around last year’s grand final loss, whereas the Pirates will want to turn last year’s wooden spoon into premiership treasure – what a battle kicking off at 1pm.

Ahead of the grand final, Central Highlands Junior Rugby League President Frank Lambley says this year’s season has been great and tomorrow's deciders should be no different.

“It’s been a pretty great season considering the recent economic downturn in the Central Highlands,” Lambley sasid.

“The downturn affects a large community sport such as rugby league, but thanks to our hard-working volunteers, we have been able to maintain strong numbers again this season.

“I expect all three finals this weekend to be cracking games not to be missed and I wish all players the best of luck and hope they enjoy the day.”

Gates open from 8am with action kicking off at 9am.

GRAND FINAL DRAW

9am: Emerald Brothers White v Emerald Brothers Blue (Under 13s)
11am: Emerald Brothers v Emerald Tigers (Under 15s)
1pm: Peak Downs Pirates v Emerald Brothers (Under 17s)

If you can’t make it to the games, you can listen to all three finals here.

You can also follow the live scores online here