There is something special about semi-finals football at this time of the year.
The ambience a suburban rugby league ground can produce when both sets of supporters come out in force is truly a spectacle in itself.
On the football field, a spectacle was unfolding itself as a gallant and courageous Beenleigh Pride produced one of the most courageous and uplifting feel good stories to make their maiden Grand Final appearance defeating a shell shocked Redlands 16-0.
With Redlands setting the bar high all season and taking out the minor premiership, it would seem fitting that the Parakeets would stroll into back to back Grand Final appearances once again, but someone forgot to tell Beenleigh Pride this.
The Lions were superb, if not magnificent. All players who donned the Lions jersey in this game produced the game of their lives to not only defeat the minor premiers, but keep them scoreless, something that no side had done all season.
Coach Luke Deller was not only a relieved coach but a proud one.
“I was quietly confident going into the match as we had a few boys coming back from injury and I knew we had the halves pairing to win it,” he said.
“To say I am proud of the boys is an understatement, this means a lot to myself and the club to make the grand final in our first season.”
Deller was not wrong in his assumption of the Beenleigh’s halves pairing of Craig Chapman and captain Rhys Gorman. If this duo are not the best at what they do in this competition, then I don’t know who is. Chapman is methodical with his general kicking. His vast experience at Intrust Super Cup level shines though each week and in this game he was the master tactician.
Chapman’s quick thinking from dummy half produced the first try of the afternoon as he scooted out of the play the ball area and drew two Redlands defenders to find a flying John Bosen who made no mistake to get the Lions on the board.
In a game with high a lot at stake, the constant niggle and chatter on the field between both teams boiled over on several occasions. You could cut the tension with a knife as both the Lions and Parakeets were playing safety first football, but it was the Lions who as the underdog, looked seemingly unfazed under pressure.
Redlands band of usual suspects in Lucas McIntyre, Linton Taituma and Craig Matheson produced some of the biggest hits this year and probably stands beside why Redlands have boasted the best defensive record all year. This trio were rock solid for the minor premiers and were definitely stand outs for the bayside club.
But Beenleigh who weathered the monstrous defence from Redlands, played it cool. Gorman orchestrating his troops around the field saw the Pride gain some valuable yardage up the middle.
Prides Scott Freidrichs and David Gorman were gaining the valuable meters upfield that saw the Pride gaining easy access to the Redlands red zone.
Forwards Glen Salter, David Gorman and Lucas Clark, take a bow. The work these three players got through in attack and defence was nothing short of phenomenal. In unseasonal hot weather, the Lions forwards got through a ton of work.
On the back of the Lions attack the next try would see almost an identical tries as again Chapmans quick thinking switched the run of play to the left and found Mitch Parrish who juggled the ball, but was able to somehow offload to winger Anthony Friend who glided in to score.
With Rhys Gorman having an unusual off day with the boot it was the Pride in a comfortable 8-0 lead at the break.
With little to separate these teams, the second half was just as explosive as the first. Again, tempers flaring as emotions were running high. With the referee having had enough of the constant niggle, he had no choice but to send Redlands second rower Sheratyn Campbell to the sin bin to cool his heels.
The game, was largely played midfield, as both sides refused to give an inch in the most hostile environment. The tension and nerves on the sidelines was being transmitted onto the field and it seemed an error would bring more points and that’s what it did.
With players stoushing in back play, Beenleigh’s Rhys Gorman continued to play on and raced away to score his sides third try with a gutsy solo effort. With calm restored after the try, a change of kickers in Chapman would still see the Prides ratio at 0/3 with conversions as his kick was waved away.
But take nothing away from Redlands, even though the side was kept scoreless, their incredible rock solid defence was something that you would see in a division higher.
The telling blow for Redlands would be the last try of the game scored by underrated prop Michael McGilvray who was unstoppable from close range to put the nail in the coffin and seal a dramatic if not the most stellar performance that I have witnessed this season.
Captain Rhys Gorman was an elated and relieved man after the game stating that his side had full confidence in each other.
“We knew they’re big forwards would probably tire early in the heat and we needed to stay focused as we had the belief we could win. It means a lot to the club and supporters that we got this far and I can’t wait to play our first ever Grand Final in two weeks”.
An incredible 16-0 win for Beenleigh over Redlands will probably go down as the game of the season thus far.