Innisfail Leprechauns booked their place in the 2014 David McCoy Homes Cairns Key Real Estate A Grade Grand Final after an impressive 26-12 win over Cassowary Coast rivals Tully Tigers on Sunday.
The Leprechauns, who had been the only team to have beaten minor premiers Tully this season, sealed their third successive win over the Tigers this year.
Innisfail all but secured the victory by half-time as they surged into a 24-0 lead at Barlow Park.
Converted tries to Fili Fate, the inspirational Rod Jensen, Jordan Biondi-Odo and Nars Richardson left Tully shell-shocked.
The Tigers briefly threatened a remarkable comeback when Greg Miglio scored shortly after the restart but Innisfail held firm as Tully's Regan Verney was sinbinned.
The result gives Innisfail player-coach Ty Williams the chance to win the competition in his first year as an A Grade mentor.
Williams said he was proud of his side's display but it would count for nothing if they did not produce a similar performance in the Grand Final.
“The first 40 was outstanding, it set the tone,” he told The Cairns Post.
“We worked hard for this. I think things are starting to fall into place for us.
“We’re not going to get too carried away.
“We dropped a fair bit of pill and full credit to Tully because they just kept coming at us.”
In the earlier Minor Semi-Final, reigning premiers Kangaroos continue to keep alive their hopes of back-to-back titles after eliminating Yarrabah in a superb 42-24 victory.
Michael White's battle-hardened side now stand just one game away from another Grand Final, when they face Tully in the Preliminary Final this Sunday.
Roos centre Bradley Stephen was again the danger man, causing havoc in the Seahawks defence, while Jared Allen was also impressive for White's men.
White said the most pleasing part of the afternoon was his side's defence, which largely kept the dangerous Yarrabah attack at bay after Roos had shot out to a 26-8 half-time lead.
“It (the defence) was very good,” he told The Cairns Post.
“We’re a developing side but the main thing was that when they scored their tries they got them out wide.
“That was what we had talked about all week – keeping them out wide.
“We worked very hard with our up-and-in defence to make sure they had to throw passes wide.
“Our goal-line defence in different periods was outstanding.”
2014 CDRL A GRADE – FINALS (WEEK 2)
SUNDAY 7 SEPTEMBER (Barlow Park, Cairns)
Innisfail Leprechauns 26 def Tully Tigers 12
Cairns Kangaroos 42 def Yarrabah Seahawks 24
(Tully Tigers now plays Cairns Kangaroos this Sunday to see who goes into the A Grade Grand Final to meet Innisfail Leprechauns)
OTHER CDRL FINALS MATCHES THIS WEEKEND
RESERVES (Sunday 7 September, Barlow Park)
Cairns Brothers 26-24 Yarrabah Seahawks
Innisfail Leprechauns 28-22 Mossman-Port Douglas Sharks
(Mossman-Port Douglas Sharks now plays Cairns Brothers this Sunday to see who goes into the Reserve Grade Grand Final to meet Innisfail Leprechauns)
UNDER 18s (Sunday 7 September, Barlow Park)
Cairns Brothers 32-26 Innisfail Leprechauns
Cairns Kangaroos 50-10 Tully Tigers
(Tully Tigers now plays Cairns Brothers this Sunday to see who goes into the Under 18s Grand Final to meet Cairns Kangaroos)
C GRADE (Friday 5 September, Vico Oval)
Edmonton Storm 31-16 Mossman-Port Douglas Sharks
Malanda (Mareeba) Eels 34-12 Cairns Brothers