Some amazing games headlined Week 1 of the Criterion Hotel Toowoomba Rugby League finals series.
Highfields Eagles v Wattles Warriors
A Grade 4v5 Elimination Final
The amazing season continued with another epic contest in this year’s finals series.
The fourth-placed Highfields took on fifth-placed Wattles and it was no place for the faint hearted with both teams very physical in the opening stages. In fact, it wasn’t until the 31st minute before either side registered a point.
Highfields’ Connor Nolan was first to trouble the scorers, finishing off a set move to score for the Eagles.
Wattles reacted well with a Tyrone Jowett try to return the game to a 6-6 ball game.
Then an amazing play occurred with the Eagles receiving a penalty with 10 seconds until the halftime hooter.
Jarrod Lee missed the conversion, but as Wattles chased through, Under 18s Western Mustangs star Blake Appo stripped the ball one-on-one to score a try, gifting Highfields a 12-6 lead at the break.
Wattles started the second half better than their opponents after long periods with the ball in hand.
The Warriors scored two tries and all of a sudden, they had an 18-12 lead with 25 minutes remaining.
The next period of play was similar to the first half with each team throwing themselves at each other but to no avail.
The whole game was end-to-end action with only a limited number of opportunities for both sides.
55 seconds from fulltime, Highfields front rower Nathan Smith barged over beside the posts with a big conversion attempt to come to lock it up.
It was a herculean effort by the Eagles as they hardly had the ball in the second half.
As a result, the scores were level at fulltime with this amazing season again, producing an extraordinary game.
Both teams continued their battle into extra time before a penalty was awarded to Wattles 25m out from Highfields’ line.
Matt Duggan kicked the penalty goal, gifting the Warriors a 20-18 win and knocking Highfields out of the finals.
Highfields went into the game without captain and playmaker Nick Bainbridge.
As a result, Jarrod Lee went to halfback and Blake Appo went to fullback.
Lee played very well and always had the opposition guessing.
The Wattles’ forward rotation went a long way to clinching victory.
The Hutchies Man of the Match, Dale Perkins was superb as was Liam Ross and Tyrone Jowett.
The quest for the elusive maiden title for the Eagles continues and to make matters worse, they lost the Reserve Grade and Under 18s matches as well in a night to forget for the fledgling club.
On the other hand, Wattles have been plagued with injuries over the past couple of seasons but it was refreshing to see Jamie Abbas play a huge role in their victory after returning from injury.
It was a glimpse of what is to come for the rest of the Criterion Hotel Dalby Final Series.
Wattles 20 (James Johnson, Ryan Duggan, Tyrone Jowett tries; Matt Duggan 4 goals) defeated Highfields 18 (Connor Nolan, Blake Appo, Nathan Smith tries; Jarrod Lee 3 goals)
Pittsworth Danes v Southern Suburbs Tigers
A Grade 3v6 Elimination Final
The Pittsworth Danes booked an appointment with Wattles following a convincing win over Souths in the second A Grade elimination semi-final.
Pittsworth bolted out of the blocks and led 36-6 at halftime.
The Danes scored seven tries in the first half to basically put the game out of reach for the Tigers.
It was an excellent display by the defending premiers who looked fresh and committed to their task, whilst Souths looked tired and disorganised to basically let their hopes fade.
Daniel York had the ball on a string for the Danes and winger Alex Sinclair had a field day following York round.
By halftime, Sinclair had scored 20 points himself.
Pittsworth completely outplayed the Tigers, but Tom Landers’ effort in the 27th minute was inspirational for Souths to get his team on the board.
His effort won the Toowoomba Sports Club Play of the Day.
The second half was in complete contrast to the first with Souths scoring three unanswered tries, but it wasn’t enough with the Danes running out winners 44-24.
Danes’ captain Daniel York won the Hutchies Man of the Match with excellent games from Brayden Gibbs and Alex Sinclair.
For Souths, Jacob Whittaker and Curtly Hammond tried hard.
Pittsworth progress to play Wattles next Saturday night.
Pittsworth 44 (Alex Sinclair 3, Kabu Kofe 2, Braydon Gibbs, Liam Jocumsen, Jeff Weber, Daniel York tries; Matt Duggan 4 goals) defeated Souths 26 (Tom Landers, Jack Henningsen, Curtly Hammond, Josh Ryan tries; Dwayne Duncan 4 goals)
Highfields Eagles v Brothers Leprechauns
Reserve Grade 4v5 Elimination Final
Brothers kept their Reserve Grade title hopes alive with a convincing win over Highfields in the Week 1 Elimination Final.
The first half was free-flowing and quite physical with Eagles holding a 12-10 lead at the break.
The Leprechauns had the better of the second half and did not allow Highfields to register any more points in the game.
The Brethren scored three unanswered tries in the second stanza to take out the game 30-12.
Brothers 30 (Sam Betros, Lynton Gaulton, Alex McErlean, Kham Millward, Jacob Sommerfeld tries. Mathew Cottee 3 Sam Betros 2 goals) defeated Highfields 12 (Tyson Mitchell, Brent Tucker tries Charlie Adams 2 goals)
Valleys Roosters v Warwick Cowboys
Reserve Grade 3v6 Elimination Final
Valleys secured an appointment with Brothers next Saturday night with a clinical win over Warwick in the Reserve Grade Elimination Final.
Valleys led 14-6 at halftime after a real contest in the first half.
The Roosters scored five tries in the second half to overwhelm their opposition.
Valleys progress to Week 2 of the finals and play Brothers on Saturday night.
Valleys 38 (Anisi Finau 2, Robert Trott 2, Emmanuel Cerei, Dylan Haaijer, Nicholas Ryals, Luke Smith tries; Dylan Adamson 3 goals) defeated Warwick 6 (Anthony McIntosh try; Brandon Vaughan goal)
Southern Suburbs Tigers v Highfields Eagles
Under 18 3v6 Elimination Final
Madsen Rasmussen finalists, Souths advanced to Week 2 of the finals with a convincing win over Highfields in the Under 18 Elimination Final.
The Tigers got off to a great start leading 24-4 after 20 minutes and went on to win 45-26.
Souths captain Matthew Arndt led by example and scored an amazing five tries for a personal tally of 28 points.
He and Luke Maiden played very well for the Tigers.
The young Eagles toiled well but played catch up for most of the match.
Kyle Betros scored a double for Highfields.
Souths 45 (Matthew Arndt 5, Josh James, Luke Maiden, Mitchell Murphy, Isaac Waters tries; Matthew Arndt 4 goals; Jai Cooke field goal) defeated Highfields 26 (Kyle Betros 2, Josh Croft, Jack Doig, Richard Murray tries; Richard Murray 3 goals)
Warwick Cowboys v South Burnett Eagles
Under 18 4v5 Elimination Final
Last year’s finalists, Warwick did their quest no harm with a good win over South Burnett.
The Cowboys led 16-10 at halftime and went on with it in the second half, scoring five unanswered tries to completely shut out Souths Burnett 39-10.
Warwick 39 (Dustin Close 2, Cruise Martin-Brown 2, Ben Gross, Aden Howard, Thomas Lloyd, Mitch Watson tries; Kai Etherington 2, Cody Byrne goals; Aden Howard field goal) defeated South Burnett 10 (Ralph Gyemore, Errol Simpson tries; Ralph Gyemore goal)
SECOND DIVISION RESULTS
4v5 FINAL: Dalby 48 (Luke Tarrant 4, Allan Dodd, Dylan Bower, Alan Davis, Chris Woodbridge tries; Luke Tarrant 4, Allan Dodd, Richard Woodbridge goals) defeated Brothers 22 (Brendan Hanrahan, Wayne Holley, Jason Phillips, Adam Sutton tries; Adam Sutton 3 goals)
3v6 FINAL: Warwick 38 (Zac O’Connor 2, Ken Parsons 2, Kevin Poole 2, David Hallman, Mitch Washbourne tries; Ken Parsons 3 goals) defeated Valleys 20 (Mitch Matheson 2, Steve Bartman tries; Alec Curtis 2, Brock Whale 2 goals)
WEEK 2 FINALS DRAW - ALL FINALS HELD AT CLIVE BERGHOFER STADIUM
Minor Semi Final: Pittsworth v Wattles - 7pm Saturday, August 19
Major Semi Final: Valleys v Dalby – 2.30pm Sunday, August 20
Minor Semi Final: Valleys v Brothers - 5pm Saturday, August 19
Major Semi Final: Gatton v Dalby - 1pm Sunday, August 20
Minor Semi Final: Souths v Warwick - 3.30pm Saturday, August 19
Major Semi Final: Dalby v Valleys - 11.30am Sunday, August 20
Minor Semi Final: Warwick v Dalby - 2pm Saturday, August 19
Major Semi Final: Gatton v Pittsworth - 10am Sunday, August 20
For full results, ladders and upcoming fixtures of the Toowoomba Rugby League, visit the TRL website.