Currumbin Eagles will challenge Burleigh for a place in the Rugby League Gold Coast QTOP A Grade grand final after defeating Southport Tigers 34-16.
Former NRL star Daniel Mortimer’s class and experience came to the fore with a number of key plays late in the game, including a 70-metre solo try in the 74th minute.
Leading by six and with the Tigers racing off their defensive line trying to force an error, Mortimer dummied from deep inside his own half and broke into the backfield before beating the fullback and racing away to score what would be the decisive try.
Mortimer’s kicking game was also important, as several of his towering bombs led to Southport errors in the last 15 minutes and turned momentum towards the visiting Eagles.
Jack Gleeson also stood out with a double as did Pele Peletelese in the front row.
Currumbin now roll on to Pizzey Park where they will face the Burleigh Bears for a place in the grand final.
The Bears have had two weeks after finishing minor premiers and having a bye in the final round of the regular season.
For the Tigers, who finished the year in second place, it was their fourth consecutive loss and they now go on to an elimination final next week.
They will need to back up at home against the Tugun Seahawks who are fresh off a dramatic 26-24 win over Runaway Bay.
Bay led with 20 minutes to go, only for the Seahawks to pick themselves off the canvas and score twice, including a late try to fullback Corey Morris, to steal the win and eliminate the defending champions.
Bay were awarded a penalty in the 80th minute and had a shot after the siren from out wide to level up the scores and push the game to extra time, but the attempt was waved away meaning the Seahawks march on to week two of the finals.
* Image courtesy of the Gold Coast Bulletin
Rugby League Gold Coast QTOP A Grade finals week 1 results
Tugun Seahawks 26 (Timothy Cassidy 2, Corey Morris, Samiu Latu, Ethan Roberts tries Samuel Meskell 3 goals) def Runaway Bay Seagulls 24 (Ben Fritz, Doryaan Hape Apiata, Jenan Wedderburn-Parrish, Steve Tolo tries Jake Powell 4 goals)
Currumbin Eagles 32 (Jake Gleeson 2, Blake Morrison, Daniel Mortimer, Pele Peletelese, Benjamin Willetts tries Philip Ramage 4 goals) def Southport Tigers 16 (Nazareth Monsall, Tuwharetoa Whakatihi-Paikea, Simione Ata tries Jack Conlan 2 goals)
Finals week 2 fixtures (dates and times TBC)
Qualifying final - Burleigh Bears v Currumbin Eagles
Elimination final - Southport Tigers v Tugun Seahawks