Minor premiers the Redcliffe Dolphins were the first team to qualify for the 2018 In Safe Hands Cup grand final thanks to a 26-22 win over the West Brisbane Panthers on Saturday.
The Dolphins will sit out this weekend as they prepare to contest their third consecutive grand final on Saturday, September 15.
West Brisbane, who have yet to appear in the grand final since the reintroduction of the BRL competition, will get one more chance to qualify when they face the Seagulls this Saturday (September 8) at WJ Scott Park.
While would ultimately fall short last weekend, it was the Panthers who got scoring underway against the Dolphins after Kennedy Pettybourne was able to get his hands free to put right winger James Olds over in the corner after just five minutes.
Scott Schulte muscled over to get the Dolphins on the board, before fullback Tony Tumusa had the Panthers defence in two minds as he took the ball to the line five metres out. He fired a cut-out ball to Will Partridge who went over to put the Dolphins in front.
With six minutes left in the half, the Dolphins took control of the contest when Corban Daniels linked with Tristan Hope to give the home side a 16-4 lead.
The Panthers were desperate for points when the second half commenced and they came in the way of a Simona Vavega offload close to the line. Zach Strasser was the recipient and touched down in the 47th minute.
Kyle Van Klaveren glided through the defensive line shortly after to bring scores level, while the Panthers kept the roll going when Mitch Hallinan came off the bench and went over to put Wests in front 22-16 with 20 minutes to go.
With momentum against the Dolphins, it was Tumusa who came up with a couple of big plays to save the day.
The deceptive fullback stormed over after a Hope offload to tie things up and then danced over 10 minutes later to secure victory and a third straight grand final appearance for the Dolphins.
The Panthers will now need to go again when they face the Seagulls in the preliminary final this coming Saturday afternoon.
The Seagulls advanced by eliminating the Easts Tigers 32-20 at BMD Kougari Oval in their minor semi-final clash.
It was the second week in a row the clubs came face-to-face after the Tigers defeated the Seagulls in Round 20 to secure their place in the finals.
The Tigers would score first in the fourth minute with a slick backline movement finding left winger Jayden Carroll unmarked.
It took until the 30th minute for the Seagulls to hit back, as Mitch Moore scooted through from close range to bring scores even.
That setback did not deter the Tigers, as back-to-back tries to Harry Pondekas and Michael Egan saw them take an eight-point lead into halftime.
The Easts lead evaporated quickly in the second half, as Moore grabbed his second by swooping on a Tigers error two minutes after the break before putting Mitch Milson through a gap for the go-ahead try shortly after.
When John Te Reo muscled over in the 51st minute, the Seagulls suddenly had a handy 10-point lead.
Anton Iaria busted over in the 65th minute to keep hopes alive for the Tigers, but the damage had already been done.
Junior Pita smashed his way over off a short pass in the 75th minute to wrap up a strong win and eliminate the Tigers.
In Safe Hands Cup semi-finals Week 1 results
Dolphins 26 (Tony Tumusa 2, Will Partridge, Tristan Hope, Scott Schulte tries; Will Partridge 3 goals) defeated West Brisbane Panthers 22 (James Olds, Kyle Van Klaveren, Zach Strasser, Mitch Hallinan tries; James Olds 3 goals)
Seagulls 32 (Mitchell Moore 2, John Te reo, Junior Pita, Matt Milson tries; John Te Reo 6 goals) defeated Tigers 20 (Harry Pondekas, Jayden Carroll, Anton Iaria, Michael Egan tries; Brandon Downey 2 goals)
* Images courtesy of Redcliffe Media / Vanessa Hafner. Visit their Facebook page
*John Devine is a QRL correspondent covering the Brisbane Rugby League A Grade competition.