Southport Tigers will challenge Burleigh in the Rugby League Gold Coast QTOP A Grade grand final after defeating Currumbin Eagles 16-12.
In a highly entertaining and tense preliminary final, the visiting Tigers took the lead with 10 minutes to go and held on defiantly as the Eagles tried desperately to extend their season.
The crucial play came on the back of a break from hooker Jacob Pottinger, who burst through the middle of the field.
He was rounded up by Currumbin defenders, but a lightning quick play-the-ball left the Eagles shot on their left and two quick passes saw Naz Monsall score the decisive try.
It was an evenly matched encounter from the opening with both sides crossing for a try each in the early exchanges.
Southport held a two-point lead as halftime approached until Dan Mortimer produced a perfectly placed grubber kick leading to Currumbin’s second try and giving the home side a 10-6 lead at the break.
The high-quality contest continued into the second half, with Southport shifting the ball from side-to-side resulting in a try for winger Barry Ruttley to bring the scores level.
A penalty goal in the 62nd minute put the Eagles back in front before Pottinger’s ultimately game-deciding break with 10 minutes to go.
With their season on the line, Currumbin produced a ferocious finish that included forced errors, one-on-one strips and a charge down, but the Tigers defended their line bravely and held on for the four-point win.
After losing their last three regular season games and losing in the first week of the finals, the Tigers have claimed consecutive elimination wins over Tugun and now Currumbin.
The defensive tenacity to hold Currumbin try-less in the second half of the preliminary final will be particularly good for their confidence when they challenge for their first premiership since 2014.
The Tigers will face minor premiers Burleigh in the Rugby League Gold Coast QTOP grand final day which will be hosted at Pizzey Park on Saturday, September 21.
* Image courtesy of BNS Photography
Southport Tigers 16 (Nazareth Monsall, Barry Ruttley, Simione Ata tries Barry Ruttley goals) def Currumbin Eagles 12 (Bayley Desmond, Blake Morrison tries Phillip Ramage 2 goals)