A massive crowd was on hand to witness a fearless display by Gaters who shut out the Dayboro Cowboys 26-0 in a demolition derby played at the magnificent Emerson Park.
It was more like a grand final atmosphere as the winner of this game would advance to play the loser of the Major Semi Final between Pine Rivers v Aspley.
Gaters resurgence on the back end of the season has been nothing short of ruthless. Credit needs to be given to coach Bevan Canning who has brilliantly masterminded his sides stellar performances to ensure that Gaters are only one win away from back to back grand finals appearances.
With the beer flowing and the vocal crowd getting amongst it all on the terraces, it was scenes reminiscent of a local derby in the old BRL Brisbane Rugby league days. A real bash up the middle dog fight. To say this was a step back in time is an understatement. The first team on the scoresheet for the afternoon was Dylan Cheery- Evans who raced away after a brilliant Brent Boyd pass to make it 4-0 after the conversion was waved away.
With a lot of feeling in this game it was only a matter of time before the referee blew his whistle for a penalty after five-eighth Boyd was felled in a high shot right in front of the sticks. He was able to shake it off and land the easy conversion making it 6-0 to Gaters.
Dayboro were rocked early on with the rock solid defence by Gaters led by front row enforcers Mick Smith (who is probably the form forward of the competition heading into the finals) and his fellow bookend Dan Harms who was absolutely lethal up the middle.
The crowd were enjoying a good old fashioned bash and barge game of rugby league and Dayboro were also muscling into the action in defence led by Aaron King and Steve Harris who dealt out some punishment of their own. Another indiscretion by the Cowboys 40m out gave Boyd another chance to send Gaters further ahead when he slotted a superb penalty goal to make it 8-0 and send both sides into the sheds at the half time break.
Gaters got off to the best possible start in the second half when a superb backline movement saw busy winger William Bern scoot over in the corner. Boyd landed a cracker sideline conversion much to the delight of the crowd to see Gaters skip away to a 14-0 lead.
Dayboro were really off song in this match, it may have been a case of stage fright or simply not just their day as errors started to creep into their game. Credit has to be given to the Cowboys halves pairing as they tried desperately to marshall their troops around the park, but it was the constant avalanche of defence by Gaters that saw them restricted in attack.
It was the Brent Boyd show again for Gaters and was the architect in their next try when he threw a beautiful cut out pass to second rower Matt Murray who dived over to score further increasing the Gaters tally. With the conversion waved away it was 18-0 Gaters.
This is where Gaters now stepped it up a gear and the try of the afternoon easily belonged to fullback Stacey Everett who from his own goaline scored a scintillating 90m try down the sideline leaving Dayboro players in his wake to further rub salt into the Cowboys wounds. Boyd was unable to land the sideline conversion but Gaters still had a comfortable 22-0 lead.
With Dayboro bravely trying to hang on to avoid a further blowout of the scoreline, Gaters were in no mood to take the foot off the pedal and again workaholic prop Mick Smith used his sheer size to make a half break and offload a neat pass to lock Michael Timmins who found space to score a richly deserved try and seal the win for Gaters 26-0 over a disappointing Dayboro.
In the Major semi-final, a hat trick to captain/coach Adam Breen for Pine Rivers ensured the Bears a spot in the Grand Final after a 30-16 rout of the Aspley Devils. Pine Rivers who eventually were crowned minor premiers, were red hot and on song as they delivered a warning to the other sides in the competition that they are the team to beat in the big one.
As per normal second rower Dan Culgan was superb in defence, hooker and warhorse Derek Wolfenden was busy at dummy half and winger Mitch Bertwhistle was safe as a bank on the wing.
Aspley were well served by Trent Williamson at five-eighth and although they were the form team all year, now have a showdown with Gaters to prove who else deserves to be there on Grand Final day.