Classic clash between Open 1 rivals
It was the showdown that everybody was waiting for.
The battle for the minor premiership between Open 1 South heavyweights Bulimba Valleys and the consistent Logan Brothers.
The winner of this game would take out the minor premiership in which Bulimba, in a clinical display beat Logan 20-12 in a brutal encounter played at Balmoral Recreation Ground. Déjà vu will see these two teams square off again this week in the major semi-final in which the winner will advance to this year’s Grand Final.
From the outset, this was going to be an interesting match up. Both sets of forwards have a fearless reputation in defence and they did not disappoint the crowd who turned out in force.
Bulimba had come into this game all guns blazing and were first to open the scoring when a nice backline movement saw halfback Jai Smith find a flying David Kramer who went in unopposed in the corner.
Cameron Joyce failed with the sideline conversion and Bulimba were clicking early on. It was now Bulimba’s turn to defend after a turnover of possession in their own half and Logan were hungry for points as well.
Logan looked certain to score after a powerhouse run by centre Tony Chong saw him held up over the line by the brick wall Bulimba defence. From the ensuing play, a wayward pass by Logan saw centre Matt Craven magnificently take the intercept and race 80m to score a memorable try in front of his home crowd. Joyce again failed with the difficult conversion, but in the tight contest, Bulimba had snuck away to an 8-0 lead.
It was all one way traffic again for Bulimba again and a clever Cameron Joyce pass found a rampaging Sam Moli who crashed over to score. With Joyce unable to land a conversion thus far, the score was 12-0 Bulimba as Logan had no answer to the well prepared home side.
Frustration by the Logan side saw Enesi Salu penalised for a high shot right in front of the sticks and Joyce made no mistake with the easy conversion and saw the Bulldogs skip away to a 14-0 lead at the break.
Logan got off to the best possible start to the second half when halfback Matt Ruthenberg sent second rower Niu Mauigoa into score to finally but the Leprechauns on the scoresheet. The kick was superbly landed by Tim Tanielu from the sideline and Logan were back in the game 14-6. But Bulimba led by the halves combination of Joyce and Smith and bookends Betham and Tuvale were simply devastating.
Joyce using all of his Intrust Super Cup experience to lead his side around the park was the go to man in this game and his general play kicking throughout the match was simply impressive.
Logan, not to be outdone in the defence department, were also well marshalled around the park by inspirational skipper Glen Salter who was stinging in defence, the imposing Terry Kepu who was virtually unstoppable, replacement Chris Turner who lifted his side when he came into the game and unsung hero Victor Pei.
Logan were not dead and buried however and their next try came from a brilliant solo effort by lock Ron Maiavia who burst through the Bulimba defence to go over beside the posts. Tanielu again slotted the conversion and it appeared that Logan’s hoodoo side might be coming to an end as they now trailed 14-12.
But cracks started to appear for Logan as they were their own worst enemy at times with dropped ball and missed tackles. Bulimba capitalised on this and were making good meters up the middle.
However credit had to be given to the Logan defence as Bulimba were absolutely ruthless in attack and raided the Logan line set after set, but after weathering the storm with some punishing defence, the Leprechauns could not hold out the Bulldogs big men and eventually fullback Matt Norton sealed the game with a dashing run to score beside the posts.
Joyce landed the conversion in front of the pig pen to snatch a well-deserved victory and take out the Open 1 South Minor Premiership 20-12.