The highs and lows, the ups and downs, and the triumphs and tragedies of rugby league were experienced by the Clermont community when they featured in three finals on the weekend including two Grand Finals.
In the junior ranks, the Under 16s Clermont Bears had to defeat the Peak Downs Pirates in the knock out semi in Springsure to ensure their place in the Grand Final. However the fairy tale end for retiring coach Brad Roberts was not to be. In quite possibly the most classic junior league game of all time, the Bears succumbed to the Pirates in extra time 15 – 14.
Hard running by the Pirates No 19, Peter Blucher, was the difference between the two teams. His ability to attract defenders and deft offloading capacity created plenty of metres for his team and plenty of headaches for the opposition. The field goal by winger, Andre Joubert at the end of the first half of extra time was a masterstroke. Congratulations to both teams – it was 80 minutes of the most intense rugby league most spectators will ever be privileged to see.
Across in Bluff, the Clermont ladies faced the Emerald Tigers ladies in the inaugural women’s Grand Final on the Central Highlands. The Emerald Tigers were the minor premiers however the Clermont Bears dominated in their previous two encounters. The Grand Final was another classic game of rugby league with only three tries scored for the entire game. The defensive effort by both teams was second to none. The final score saw the Tigers defeat the Bears 10 points to 6.
It was with cautious optimism that the Bears supporters, some who had travelled from Clermont to Springsure to Bluff for the finals, cheered the Clermont Bears Men’s team onto the field. Having lost two of the finals that day, supporters were concerned that perhaps another loss was on its way. But the Bears were always in control of the main game. With two quick tries in the first 10 minutes, home side and hot favourites, the undefeated Bluff Rabbitohs struggled to regain the composure that saw them win the minor premiership.
It was a classic Grand Final with huge crowd support for both teams, and it was also a fitting swan song for Bears legends, Brendon Finger, Wade Stanton and CH Player of the Final Clayton Humphreys. The final score was 48 – 38 to the reigning Premiers, Clermont.
Later on that night, back in Clermont, the town’s residents breathed a collective sigh of relief and quietly punched the air in satisfaction. To have one team feature in a final series was special…to have two was grand, but to have three and to bring home the Premiership trophy was a magnificent effort. Players from the Under 6s through to the Seniors, male and female had once again given their all and worn the green & gold in great spirit, something that continues to fill the town with a great sense of pride.