The Griffith University Gold Coast Panthers have claimed the 2014 Universities Rugby League Queensland minor premiership, thanks to an enthralling 20-12 victory over the third placed QUT Trouts at Nathan on Wednesday night.
In a tight and at times brutal encounter, the Panthers notched their fifth straight victory with three second half tries to secure their maiden minor premiership in just their fifth season.
With the scores locked at 6-all at the break, the Gold Coast forward pack had the better of the second half arm wrestle, allowing skilful backs Travis Drury, Estin Hunter and Alex Wharton to post four pointers.
The Trouts dug deep to get within eight points thanks to a Pat O’Sullivan try, but the narrow loss relegated QUT to third spot and a sudden death semi-final against cross town rivals, the UQ Hounds.
The Hounds will hope that they have a host of injured players back on deck for that clash, after being upset 16-14 by the resurgent Griffith Dragons at a blustery St Lucia campus.
The two point upset was a great way to end what has been a tough season for the Dragons, with a second half converted try to backrower Sam Bateman proving the difference in a willing encounter.
Power house Hounds centre Kylan Lovai continued his stunning try scoring streak to get the home side within two points of leveling the scores late in the game, but Matt Gavin’s conversion attempt sailed just wide.
UQ will now lick their wounds and look to get back into the winners circle against the Trouts, with the victor to progress to the September 17 URLQ grand final.
And the Griffith Logan Redbacks booked fourth place and a clash with the Panthers thanks to their 20-0 victory over the USQ Ironbarks.
In next week’s semi-final action, Griffith Gold Coast will host the Griffith Logan Redbacks at Parkwood, whilst the UQ Hounds and QUT Trouts will battle it out for the other grand final spot at St Lucia.
Griffith Logan Redbacks 20 Defeated USQ Ironbarks 0
Griffith Dragons 16 (Emmanual Kiddie, Jude Kamano, Sam Bateman tries; Jack Thomas, Sam Bateman goals) Defeated UQ Hounds 14 (Sean Kaufman 2, Kylan Lovai tries; Matt Gavin goal)
Griffith GC Panthers 20 (Sam Burgess, Alex Wharton, Estin Hunter, Travis Drury tries; Matthew Beaton 2 goals) Defeated QUT Trouts 12 (Richard Kay, Pat O’Sullivan tries; Richard Kay 2 goals)
URLQ LADDER: Griffith Gold Coast Panthers 27, UQ Hounds 22, QUT Trouts 21, Griffith Logan Redbacks 20, Griffith Dragons 16, USQ Ironbarks 10