Redlands Parakeets are one win away from securing a spot in the Open Southside grand final with a stunning 24-16 win over an injury-depleted Beenleigh Pride.
You know when these two sides meet there is always going to be a fierce battle.
The rivalry of the two clubs has always gone the distance on the field and this game was no different.
The win will see the bayside club in a showdown in this week’s semi-final against Inala for the right to take on Bulimba Valleys in the grand final.
The Parakeets looked every bit a premiership threat, taming the Pride in all aspects of this game in what was a disappointing end for the Pride’s season.
Redlands halfback Max McMillan was superb, if not the best player on the park.
It was the diminutive halfback’s nimble feet and passing game that left the Pride at sixes and sevens throughout the game as he toyed with the Beenleigh pack.
McMillan’s lethal sidestepping would get the Parakeets first on the board with a left-foot step that wrong footed the Pride defence and saw the playmaker leap over two defenders too score what was best described as an acrobatic aerial try.
The Pride were made to pay in Redland’s next try, as some lazy defence around the ruck saw replacement player Lewis James run full steam ahead to spot a gap and crash in to score.
2015 BSDRL player of the year Craig Matheson landed another superb shot at goal to extend the score to 12-0.
With Redlands bringing an army of supporters with them, the vocal crowd were in full voice giving the Parakeets a massive boost of confidence at the can bar end of the ground.
The elusive McMillan showed his class once again, with an incredible reverse flick pass that found the powerful Sheratyn Campbell in support who crashed over between the posts.
At 18-0, the Pride looked tired after the initial onslaught that the Parakeets were giving them.
However, some positional changes by coach Luke Deller brought in some much needed fresh legs.
Pacey winger George Tamate had enough room to run around his opposite number to score the Pride’s first try of the afternoon.
The experienced Craig Chapman landed a phenomenal sideline conversion in the blustery conditions to peg the Parakeets back to 18-6.
The Pride, who have been the success story over the last few seasons in the Open 1 Southside competition, were being well served by “bruise brothers” David Gorman and Glen Salter, fullback Damien Butler, Craig Chapman and Josh Johnston.
However, Redlands nearly increased the score in the 39th minute when hooker Matheson made a half break to find McMillan, but his pass went wide of the mark to his winger Jye Funakai and sailed into touch to see the halftime score remain at 18-6.
The Pride responded well in the early stages of the second half when playmaker Rhys Gorman floated a beautiful ball out to his centre Mitch Parrish, who found the rock solid fullback Butler who had some work to do to score a great comeback try.
At 18-10, it appeared the Pride had woken up from their bad dream to start from scratch again.
Centre Cuba-Bay Tahiti, Chapman and David Gorman were still frustrating the Redlands defence and eventually it would take Chapmans box of tricks to find Butler again, putting the fullback through a beautiful gap to seeing him slice through the Redlands defence and score another fantastic try.
Another beautiful sideline conversion by Chapman would see the Pride back in the game at 18-16.
With eight minutes remaining, frustration turned into a pushing and shoving match as both sides came to grips in what was now a game going down to the wire.
Redlands were exceptional though through Campbell, McMillan, Matheson and prop Lukas McIntyre who were all rock solid throughout.
Any hopes of the Pride making a late comeback were shot as fundamental errors crept into their game that would eventually seal their fate.
The Parakeets sealed the game with centre Leonard Baker exposing the tired Pride defence on the fringes and he superbly cut inside to score the winning try and secure a hard fought but well deserved victory.
Final Score: Redlands 24 Beenleigh Pride 16.
Bulimba Valleys will try to make it five grand final wins in a row with their solid 28-26 win against Wests Inala.
Prop Adam Kambouris was magnificent as the Bulldogs were first to qualify for the grand final.
Inala’s Patrick Noonan was a standout for the Panthers, but the incredible juggernaut from the Bulimba club rolls on to fight another day.