Bulimba Bulldogs will contest an incredible eighth consecutive InTech Rugby League Brisbane Division 1 grand final after defeating Dayboro Cowboy’s 34-24 in an epic Cross River preliminary final.
With many of the club’s stalwarts in the twilight of their careers, the Bulldogs showed age was no barrier and proved again why they continue to be one of the most successful clubs in the RLB competition year after year.
Bulimba’s hooker Josh Frew’s dash from dummy half had the Bulldogs on the board in the 11th minute. He converted his own try in windy conditions to give the Bulldogs an early 6-0 lead.
Not three minutes later, the Bulldogs scored another try right under the Cowboy’s noses to nudge a little further on the scoreboard.
With Dayboro boasting a formidable forward pack led by the indestructible Vili Taungatua, Ben Coogan and Jacob Chambers, the trio were able to make some good metres through the middle.
From this, livewire halfback Daniel Prentice-McLeod scored the first of his four tries for the afternoon in the 27th minute after sneaking over beside the posts.
On three separate occasions Dayboro had chances to cross the Bulimba line before the interval, however some incredible brick wall defence led by Adam Kambouris, Christian Wilson and Tai Betham halted any chance of the Cowboys pegging the score back.
At 12-6 and a minute after the break, Bulimba were gifted a penalty right in front of the sticks, with Frew making no mistake with the easy conversion to see the Bulldogs leading 14-6.
Cowboy Prentice-McLeod was like a thief in the night when he took a sensational intercept to race away and score beside the sticks to see the score read 14-12 after the conversion.
However, Bulimba coach Jason Harris was showing no signs of panic and after making some important positional changes injected some heavy hitting fresh forwards. It paid off moments later when Tommy O’Connor scored for the Dogs.
Bulimba’s exciting fullback Matt Hill slashed his way through some ordinary Cowboys defence to further increase the score line.
Despite being down on the scoreboard Dayboro’s pressure continued, and their forward pack started to make some inroads against the Dogs.
Taungatua was heroic in a losing side, still battering away at the Bulldogs forwards in a battle royale up the middle.
But in the blink of an eye Bulimba back rower Elliott Davies ran a great line off a ball from winger Sean Haufe and raced away down the touchline to touch down out wide.
Hill showed again why he is one of the form fullbacks in the competition by stepping his way to the line to score another gift four pointer.
The most unlikely of comebacks looked to be on though, as Prentice McLeod had the Dayboro supporters up out of their seats, scoring an astonishing double within two minutes of each other.
But the Bulldogs were home and hosed with barely 30 seconds left on the clock ending what was a thrilling finish to one of the most entertaining games of the year.
Bulldogs will take on Pine Central Holy Spirit in the Cross-River Division 1 grand final this Saturday afternoon at Albert Bishop Park.
It will be proceeded by the Division 2 final featuring Logan City Hawks and Brighton as well as the Division 3 final between Samford and Souths Inala.
2019 InTech senior men’s grand final day
Saturday, September 14 at Albert Bishop Park
Division 3 cross river grand final – Samford v Souths Inala, 12pm
Division 2 cross river grand final – Logan City Hawks v Brighton, 1.30pm
Division 1 cross river grand final – Pine Central Holy Spirit v Bulimba Bulldogs, 3pm