In an amazing day, three minor premiers were bundled out of this year’s finals series with Valleys in the A Grade, Dalby in the Under 18s and Gatton in Second Division all exiting after tough matches.
Pittsworth were too strong for Valleys in the top grade and have earned the right to defend their title.
Valleys Roosters v Pittsworth Danes
A Grade Preliminary Final
The Pittsworth Danes won in a bruising affair over the minor premiers Valleys Roosters in the Toowoomba Rugby League preliminary final.
The Danes scored the quickest try this season when fullback Jeff Weber found a gap to score near the posts after just 30 seconds.
The try was a result of Valleys letting the kick off go into to touch and the ensuring scrum saw Weber cross Valleys’ try line.
The Roosters had the majority of possession after that surprise and pressured Pittsworth’s line on many occasions before an errant pass right on the Danes’ line saw Pittsworth winger Liam Jocumsen intercept and run 85m to break the Roosters’ momentum.
They scored again and Pittsworth led 16-0 before Valleys finally scored close to halftime, courtesy of another 85m try to hard-working Hnaloan Budden.
Pittsworth weren’t finished and scored on the stroke of halftime in a crucial period to lead 22-6 going into the break.
Valleys came out after halftime firing and scored a magic try set up by Valleys captain Ryan Stevens.
Jacob Ryals burst through off the shoulder of Stevens to get the Roosters back into the game, but Pittsworth showed what they had done all season.
Bouncing back almost immediately, Alex Sinclair flopped on a perfectly-placed Daniel York grubber to score.
The Pittsworth try again broke the hearts of the Roosters team, but Stevens never gave up and kicked a perfectly-placed kick for high flyer Emmanuel Cerei to return the game to a 10-point contest, 26-16.
It was a race to the finish with Valleys throwing everything at the Danes, but last season’s premiers prevailed when halfback James Dempsey went in for his third try to secure the game for the Danes, 32-16 with 14 minutes remaining.
It was a ferocious affair with Pittsworth having four interchanges left, but there was no one remaining on the bench after Schnitzerling, Phipps, Miller and O’Sullivan succumbed to injury.
The Roosters were no better, with Chown and Viane unable to complete the second half.
Additionally, they were left with 12 men after interchange player Reggie Munn was sent off during the second half for repeated infringements.
Fundamental mistakes from Valleys again let their supporters down.
It was their first finals football since 2013 and it showed as they missed many opportunities, whilst Pittsworth were aware of what was on offer after the win.
The Danes now proceed to next week’s big decider against Dalby to attempt to go back-to-back.
Pittsworth 28 (James Dempsey 3, Alex Sinclair, Liam Jocumsen, Jeff Weber tries; Alex Sinclair 5 goals) defeated Valleys 16 (Hnaloan Budden, Jacob Ryals, Emmanuel Cerei tries; Brett Seymour 2 goals)
Dalby Diehards v Valleys Roosters
Reserve Grade Preliminary Final
Valleys Roosters flew the club’s flag by edging out Dalby in a hard-fought affair.
Leading 10-0 at halftime, Dalby scored two unconverted tries in the second half to get a sniff, but to no avail.
The Roosters will play Gatton in the grand final for the fourth consecutive year.
Valleys 10 (Dylan Haaijer, Daniel Bain tries; Dylan Adamson goal) defeated Dalby 8 (Willian Hounslow, Brenton McMillian tries)
Dalby Diehards v Warwick Cowboys
Under 18 Preliminary Final
The TRL Under 18 competition continued its wonderful close season when Warwick won a tight battle against Dalby to advance to a replay of last year’s grand final, meeting Valleys once again.
Warwick were yet to defeat the minor premiers prior to the match with their two regular season games very close.
The lead changed hand a few times with the Cowboys grabbing it with 10 minutes remaining and they held on for an epic win.
Warwick 24 (Duston Close 2, Cruise Martin-Brown, Cody Byrne, Thomas Lloyd tries; Kai Etherington 2 goals) defeated Dalby 22 (Lewis Boyd, Travis Babington, Braedon Green, Lachlan Kelly tries; Jaylan Bond, Travis Babington, Travis Tate goals)
Gatton Hawks v Dalby Diehards
Second Division Preliminary Final
Dalby 22 (Luke Tarrant, Chris Morgan, Josh Tarrant, Richard Woodbridge tries; Luke Tarrant 2, Mike Gaur goals) defeated Gatton 18 (Gary Everuss, Todd Godwin, Frank Green, Luke Morrison tries; Gary Everuss goal)
GRAND FINAL DRAW - CLIVE BERGHOFER STADIUM
Sunday, September 3
9.30am: Pittsworth Danes v Dalby Diehards (Second Division)
11.10am: Toowoomba Valleys v Warwick Cowboys (Under 18)
1pm: Gatton Hawks v Toowoomba Valleys (Reserve Grade)
3pm: Dalby Diehards v Pittsworth Danes (A Grade)
For full results, ladders and upcoming fixtures of the Toowoomba Rugby League, click here.