This weekend of Toowoomba Rugby League action brings Round 1 of the 2015 ‘Hutchinson Builders’ premiership to an end after eleven weeks.

In effect the season is all but half over, and on the doorstep of the TRL prestigious mid-season trophy events, the Madsen-Rasmussen Trophy & Presidents Cup finals.

It’s an exciting time of the year for the Darling Downs rugby league community, as the first of the season’s silverware is about to be contested.

The Gatton ‘Hawks’ may have endured their first loss of the season last weekend but they are still heading the table and likely to bounce back with a vengeance on Sunday against Brothers. On June 14th the Tommy Friend coached ‘Hawks’ look set to defend the Madsen-Rasmussen Trophy they won in such fine style last year, with their opponent emerging from the Highfields ‘Eagles’ v Warwick ‘Cowboys’ and Wattles ‘Warriors’ v Pittsworth ‘Danes’ clashes this weekend. It’s a touch congested on the top five rungs of the ‘Hutchies Cup’ ladder, the ‘Hawks’ on 16 points followed by chasers Wattles (14), Highfields (14), Warwick (12) and Pittsworth (12).

TRL Chairman Paul Dean is assuring footy fans “we are going to be showered with country rugby league at its best over the next nine days” as teams jostle for finals berths and then get down the finals business.

The Highfields ’Eagles’ certainly lifted for the occasion at the ‘Hawks’ nest Cahill Park last Saturday, handing out Gatton’s first loss and enhancing their chances of a Madsen-Rasmussen Trophy final berth next week. A Blake Appo penalty goal just prior to full time sealed the win for the elated ‘Eagles’ in the top of the table clash. Both sides were locked at 12-12 at halftime, and while Highfields snatched a victory, Gatton Coach Tom Friend felt his side, that were short a couple of mainstays, had posted their best performance of the season.

After a sluggish first half reigning premiers the Wattles ‘Warriors’ came home with a wet sail on their home track Platz Oval to overwhelm Brothers 64-10 and firm their chances of running on in next week’s mid-season final. The ‘Warriors’ have an exciting new face in their contingent in former Mitchell back Michael Purcell. Purcell scored with his first touch of the ball, and followed up with another three touchdowns, showing his lightning speed is quite at home in the Toowoomba Rugby League premiership.

The Warwick ‘Cowboys’ kept their outside chances of a mid-season final appearance alive with a solid 42-10 over the Goondiwindi ‘Boars’ at the Rose City’s famous Father Ranger Oval. The ‘Cowboys’ defence was a key ingredient in their winning result in front of one of the biggest home crowds of the season on hand to see the ‘Boars’ in action for the first time since 2012.

To run on in to Clive Berghofer Stadium to contest the Madsen-Rasmussen Trophy next Sunday Warwick will need to beat premiership pace setters Highfields this weekend and will need Pittsworth to finish ahead of country cousins Wattles.

After losing their winning way for a few weeks the Dalby ‘Diehards’ have strung two successes together to returning to the winner’s circle after proving too strong for the Valleys ‘Roosters’ winning 34-18 after leading 16-12 at the break at Herb Steinohrt Oval.

It may have taken ten matches but the Souths ‘Tigers’ lifted to ease ahead of the Oakey ‘Bears’ winning by a try 34-30 at Clive Berghofer Stadium last Saturday.

A team steeped in tradition and achievements, it’s no secret though that the ‘Tigers’ have struggled in 2015. The win has lifted confidence with the ‘Like a Tiger’ chant heard about the grandstand, and also that the famed black and gold side’s fortunes are about to change.

Full marks to the ‘Bears’ though that are capable of anything on their day, with Souths scorching through the first stanza to lead 26-0 at the break, the ‘Bears’ reacted suitably outscoring the ‘Tigers’ 30-8 across the final forty minute, but alas it was too little too late.

The Pittsworth ‘Danes’ may have enjoyed an RDO last weekend and their club Race Day, but on Saturday they will host a key match in the lead up to the mid-season finals taking on the Wattles ‘Warriors’. While Wattles are will in the equation to contest the Madsen-Rasmussen Trophy, the ‘Danes’ are also in contention thus providing the recipe for a great match under lights at Pittsworth.

Congratulations Tristan

The Toowoomba Rugby League is honoured to congratulate ‘Clydesdales’ player Tristan Hope on his selection in the Queensland Under 18 team to play New South Wales at the Melbourne Cricket Ground On June 14th. A tremendous honour for Tristan, his club and this League.

Country Week

Country Queensland will play host to some of the state’s top level League during ‘Get in the Game’ Country Week in August with rural centres Blackall, Bundaberg, Charters Towers, Innisfail and here on the Downs, Dalby and Stanthorpe hosting Round 23 Intrust Super Cup Matches. Papua New Guinea’s Goroka will also host a match with National side the ‘Hunters’ matching up against Wynnum Manly.

Norths ‘Devils’ will play the Mackay ‘Cutters’ at Dalby on Saturday August 15th, and the Sunshine Coast ‘Falcons’ will battle it out with the Burleigh ‘Bears’ on Sunday August 16th at Stanthorpe’s Sullivan Oval which will be broadcast live on Channel 9/NBN/Win.

Congratulations to both Dalby and Stanthorpe, playing host to some high standard footy while their clubs and local communities enjoy a deserved economic boost.

The Queensland Government has committed $100,000 over two years for Country Week, which forms part of the Get in the Game initiative aimed to support grassroots sport and recreation.

It’s a tremendous initiative by the Queensland Rugby League and the Queensland government, be sure you get to a game.

Toowoomba Rugby League Round 11 Fixtures (6/7 June)

Saturday - Pittsworth v Wattles; Goondiwindi v Souths; Sunday – Highfields v Warwick, Brothers v Gatton, Oakey v Valleys.

‘Hutchinson Builders’ A Grade Premiership Ladder after Round 10

Gatton 16, Wattles 14, Highfields 14, Warwick 12, Pittsworth 12, Dalby 11, Valleys 7, Oakey 4, Goondiwindi 4, Souths 3, Brothers 3.