Redcliffe Dolphins are the Struddys Sports BRL pre-season champions but it wasn’t without some edgy moments against a committed Valleys Diehards.
The Dolphins claimed the silverware with a 38-24 victory at Bishop Park on Saturday but had to withstand two Valleys comebacks.
The number one side heading into the decider, Redcliffe opened up a twenty point lead in the second half but were forced to sweat it out when Valleys reduced the margin to eight points with seven on the clock.
The Diehards launched an attack but the red and whites' defence stayed strong in the dying stages.
Redcliffe coach Daniel Green said it was a long few minutes on the sideline.
“We copped a couple of injuries and I was running out of interchanges… blokes were sort of playing out position and I was a bit nervous,” he said.
"But credit to the guys, they hung in there… dug deep and got the result.”
Dolphins’ lock forward Ashley Harawira was awarded Man of the Match for a barnstorming two-try effort.
Redcliffe came out of the blocks flying, posting three tries in the opening fifteen minutes for a 14-0 lead.
But Valleys rallied and dragged it back to 14-12 at the break, with Sean Yorsten and Reece Barker crossing.
The start of the second was basically a mirror image of the first.
Redcliffe stretched their lead to 32-12, scoring four times in a blistering fifteen minutes – only an off day from goal kicker Alex Bishop prevented the score from getting out of hand.
Valley struck through Jake Cannon and impressive fullback Reece Barker to bring the score back to 32-24, setting up a tense finale.
However, Redcliffe held on with Harawira pouncing on a Valleys knock-on to score the match sealer.
Green believed fatigue played a part in his side’s drop offs but said the decision to play 40 minute halves – five minutes longer than the previous FOGS Cup competition – remained the right call.
“You want to be playing the amount of time the Intrust Super Cup is playing,” he explained.
“You want to be preparing your players to make that next jump.
“The lungs would be hurting more than anything. A couple of the bigger blokes were struggling a little bit. But that’s going to be rectified by playing a bit more footy.”
Redcliffe went through the pre-season competition undefeated and must surely enter the regular season as early favourites.
“We spoke about hitting the ground running. We weren’t at our best and got the Grand Final today,” Green said.
In the other playoff matches, third-placed Easts had too much skill for Logan Bothers, finishing with a comprehensive 42-14 victory.
Wynnum Manly Redland City posted a similar score against Carnia in the 5th v 6th playoff. However, Carina finished strongly and weren’t helped by two intercept tries against the run of play.
On the juniors’ field, Gaters pulled away late from Normanby and West Brisbane Panthers won a tit-for-tat battle against Ipswich Jets at the beginning of the day.
STRUDDYS SPORTS BRL PRE-SEASON GRAND FINAL
REDCLIFFE DOLPHINS 38 (Ashley Harawira 2, Dylan Hawea 2, Glen Ellis, Brett Coutts, Kyle Van Klaveran, John Brady tries; Alex Bishop 2, Kyle Van Klaveran goals) def VALLEYS DIEHARDS 24 (Reece Baker 2, Sean Yorston, Jake Cannon tries; Michael Bishay 2, Zach Lister 2 goals)
WEST BRISBANE PANTHERS 30 (Sebastian Sinapati, Robert Lane, Tim Tanielu, Andrew Gormley, James Leavai, John Tasi tries; Sean Loxley 2, Andrew Gormley goals) def IPSWICH JETS 24 (Wayd Nibbs, Richie Pandia, Pat McCullum, Matt Brown, Barry Blackman tries; Chisholm Ash 2 goals)
WYNNUM MANLY REDLAND CITY 44 (Zach Koita 2, Mitchell Krause 2, David McKenna, Olsi Kraniqi, Semisi Ahoafi, Brad Mana tries; Chris Green 6 goals) def CARINA 20 (Mauiuia Poe, Brett Ferguson, Steve Tyrrell, McKenzie Reid tries; Isaac Kaufmann 2 goals)
GATERS 36 (Aaron Corbyn 2, Byron Whittaker, Shauni Wickham, Kieran Turner, Marlon Doak, Nathan Turner tries; Kieran Turner 3, Stephen Tunnicliffe goals) def NORMANBY HOUNDS 22 (Ryan Currie, Jacob Thomas, Rez Phillips, Jack Walters tries; Jacob Thomas 3 goals)
EASTS TIGERS 42 (Whetu Austin 3, Michael Kai, Leon Ellia-Niukore, Jack Joass, Billy Walters, Thomas Ingersole tries; Jack Joass 5 goals) def LOGAN BROTHERS 14 (David Faamita, Natal Tuia, Daniel Tamou tries; Joshua Te Amo goal)