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McGrady magic seals 47th Battalion title

Flashy five-eighth Cory McGrady was the player of the match after scoring a superb try in the 43rd minute and converting to guarantee Toowoomba back-to-back grand final victories over Sunshine Coast in the 47th Battalion at Bundaberg on Sunday.

With the match in the balance, he stretched their lead to 10 points with six minutes remaining, and while the Falcons got back to within a try with their pivot David Oakes scoring with 1.26 left on the clock and adding the extras, the Coast were beaten by the bell in their last gasp long-range attacking raid - the Clydesdales hanging on to triumph 20-16 in a classical match.

Toowoomba had made a dream start with a try from a lucky bounce from a high kick after just 55 seconds, with centre Dwayne Duncan catching the ball and crossing.

Then, when they scored two more tries in quick succession in the 13th and 17th minutes via fullback Dylan Chown and centre Craig Donn, they were in control, ahead 14-0.

But the Falcons finally opened their account in the 24th minute with winger Walter Lauenstein crossing, and they continued on in the second stanza and got back to within four points with a try to interchange ace Melino Fineanganofo and a conversion to Oakes in the 43rd minute.

Sunshine Coast continued to attack and went agonisingly close to scoring again, only to be repeatedly repelled by the robust Clydesdales defence.

It was then against the run of play that Toowoomba regained the ascendancy with McGrady finishing off a long-range try with what was ultimately the match winner.

Clydesdales winger David Armstrong took out the coveted player of the carnival award, and he was also named in the merit team, along with three team-mates; Duncan, tough as teak stalwart front rower and inspirational captain Xavier Manley, and powerhouse second rower Hnaloan Budden.

David Armstrong receives the 47th Battalion Men’s player of the carnival award from QRL Central chair Danny McGuire. Photo: Vince Habermann
David Armstrong receives the 47th Battalion Men’s player of the carnival award from QRL Central chair Danny McGuire. Photo: Vince Habermann

While the Falcons had three players chosen - Fineanganofo, halfback Jack Just, and front rower Rowan Jardine.

It was the sixth time in the past nine carnivals that Toowoomba had claimed the prestigious title, but they had just six survivors from their team which also accounted for the Falcons 20-6 in the decider when the two-day carnival was played in 2019 - Manley, McGrady, Budden, hooker Ben Sullivan, second rower Ty Gardner, whom coach Luke Duggan also said was “exceptional”, and interchange player Connor Nolan.

Bundaberg Bears, who bowed out of contention with an 18-6 first-round loss to South West on Saturday, gained some consolation when they defeated Wide Bay Rangers 22-20 in a pulsating plate final; on the back of centre Layton Chambers scoring the first two tries of the match, despite fielding a bare 15 players for the game and being reduced to 14 before half-time.

The Bears were forced to come from behind with the Rangers staging a stirring second-half fightback to take the lead 20-18 with 11.28 on the clock, and it was not until Bears winger Matt Ross scored late that they regained the lead.

Still, the Rangers refused to surrender, and they had chances to kick to equalise when awarded two penalties in the last two minutes, but they took the tap instead on both occasions but could not break through, and the Bears hung on by the skin of their teeth.

Bears veteran lock Josh Tanner, 35, who has competed at just about every 47th Battalion since making his debut at the age of 19, was player of the plate final and was also rewarded with a place in the merit team; while the Rangers had two players to achieve the honour, both of whom were absolutely outstanding - South Kolan Sharks centre Darren Broome and former Bundaberg junior star five-eighth Zac Dann.

Meanwhile, Western Mustangs claimed an historic maiden 47th Battalion Women’s crown by winning their four round-robin matches.

The Mustangs started on Saturday with wins over the Falcons 24-14 and Rockhampton Rustlers 30-4, before wrapping up the title with wins on Sunday over Gladstone Raidettes 42-0 with doubles to fullback Courtney Robinson and winger Tenesha Trunks, and Central Highlands 36-4 when they had seven individual try scorers.

Overall, they racked up 132 points while conceding just 22.

47th Battalion Women’s champions Western Mustangs. Photo: Vince Habermann
47th Battalion Women’s champions Western Mustangs. Photo: Vince Habermann

Exciting halfback Emily Young picked up two player of the match awards, but she was beaten for the Women’s player of the carnival gong by teammate and fullback Courtney Robinson.

That dynamic duo were chosen in the carnival merit team, along with four other Mustangs; winger Tenesha Trunks, enterprising hooker Elle Bowden-Betts, and workaholic back rowers Katelyn Anderson and Traevonnah Fisher.

47th Battalion Women’s player of the carnival Courtney Robinson with QRL Central chair Danny McGuire. Photo: Vince Habermann
47th Battalion Women’s player of the carnival Courtney Robinson with QRL Central chair Danny McGuire. Photo: Vince Habermann

Finals results

Trophy final

Toowoomba Clydesdales 20 (Dwayne Duncan, Dylan Chown, Craig Donn, Cory McGrady tries; Cory McGrady 2 goals) defeated Sunshine Coast Falcons 16 (Walter Lauenstein, Melino Fineanganofo, David Oakes tries; David Oakes 2 goals)

Plate final

Bundaberg Bears 22 (Layton Chambers 2, Lachlan Patterson, Matthew Ross tries; Caleb Tull 3 goals) defeated Wide Bay Rangers 20 (Darren Broome 2, Zac Dann, Mark Fisher tries; Zac Dann 2 goals)

Central Crows merit teams

Men

1. Darren Broome (Wide Bay) 2. David Armstrong (Toowoomba) 3. Melino Fineanganofo (Sunshine Coast) 4. Dwayne Duncan (Toowoomba) 5. Brandon Roberts (Rockhampton) 6. Zac Dann (Wide Bay) 7. Jack Just (Sunshine Coast) 8. Xavier Manley (Toowoomba) 9. Jack Pattie (Rockhampton) 10. Rowan Jardine (Sunshine Coast) 11. Hnaloan Budden (Toowoomba) 12. Jyde Dwyer (Gladstone) 13. Josh Tanner (Bundaberg)

Women

1. Courtney Robinson (South West) 2. Tenesha Trunks (South West) 3. Hannah Geesu (Gladstone) 4. Savannah Edwards (Rockhampton) 5. Makayla Henry (Sunshine Coast) 6. Tashina Ketchup (Rockhampton) 7. Emily Young (South West) 8. Tasmin Taumafai (Sunshine Coast) 9. Elle Bowden-Betts (South West) 10. Tyla Mitchell (Sunshine Coast) 11. Caitlin Sing (Sunshine Coast) 12. Katelyn Anderson (South West) 13. Traevonnah Fisher (South West)