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Community corner: Central deciders a reminder of rugby league's potential

We’re in the thick of grand final season in Queensland Rugby League's Central region, with titles decided in the Central Burnett, Gladstone and Rockhampton last weekend.

Rocky’s grand final day at Browne Park had one of the biggest crowds I’ve seen for a long time – akin to any NRL game held there.

It was massive and it was an absolute terrific day of football.

The games in all four grades were reasonably tight, played in the right spirit and the crowd really came to enjoy the day and be positive. The vibe was just back to the good old days of rugby league. I was just really rapt.

The crowd was on the end of its seat and especially in A grade, but there was nothing in it in the reserve grade either.

A Yeppoon Seagulls player consoles an Emu Park player after the extraordinary A grade grand final. Photo: Boothy's Action Photo Art
A Yeppoon Seagulls player consoles an Emu Park player after the extraordinary A grade grand final. Photo: Boothy's Action Photo Art

Yeppoon Seagulls and Emu Park went into extra time in the top grade after being locked at 28-28 at the end of 80 minutes.

The Emus snapped an early field goal in the first five-minute period before Seagulls winger Jacob Voysey-McGrath became the hero with a try in the corner in the 87th minute to make it 32-29, and there was a split match in it.

In the Central Burnett it was Gayndah Gladiators beating Eidsvold Eagles, and again the crowd and player behaviour was really good and that's the thing I want to see right through our final series’ throughout the region.

Eidsvold making the grand final was a fantastic achievement after they reformed at the start of this year, which signifies and wonderful expansion of the game in that area.

Yeppoon Seagulls fans during the game. Photo: Boothy's Action Photo Art
Yeppoon Seagulls fans during the game. Photo: Boothy's Action Photo Art

We are hopeful of relaunching our dedicated Central Burnett junior competition next year, with plenty of interest from individual clubs who this year have had their players representing the combined Gladiators sides in the South Burnett competition.

Speaking of gladiators, Valleys Diehards got the chocolates in the Gladstone A grade grand final over Brothers over the weekend 50-14.

It was a great effort to come back after going down in the major semi-final to start the series.

In Hostplus Cup it’s great to see each of our sides enjoying wins last weekend, with the Central Queensland Capras now locked into the finals and every chance of making the top four.

Sunshine Coast Falcons, with an appearance from Melbourne Storm affiliate Ryan Papenhuyzen, had an important win to sit in striking distance of the top eight with two rounds remaining.

Round 20 highlights: Papenhuyzen returns

Western Clydesdales effectively ended Norths Devils’ finals chances on the weekend and even though finals are out of the question for our Toowoomba-based team, they’ve done a great job in returning to the top grade in 2023.

Despite being firmly in finals mode, we’re already looking ahead to next season, with our area managers and league and club co-ordinators in the process of engaging our community clubs for their feedback and suggestions so we can work on improvements.

Best of luck to all of our participants preparing for their own finals series’ coming up.

Shout out

A shout out to the volunteers at Gracemere Junior Rugby League who manned the bar, the gate and other jobs that were much needed at Rockhampton’s senior grand final day. They did an awesome job catering for the massive crowd of more than 4000 people, probably double what was expected.

Key dates

August 19: Roma Junior Rugby League grand finals

August 20: Central Highlands Junior Rugby League and Northern Districts Rugby League grand final day

August 26: Central Highlands and Bundaberg senior grand finals

August 27: Roma and District senior grand finals

Celebrating our team

Jess Goldthorpe

Role: League coordinator, Sunshine Coast

Hometown: Lived on the Sunshine Coast for 10 years, moved from Sydney where I lived for 16 years after emigrating to Australia from the UK when I was 14

Favourite Maroons player: Greg Inglis and Julia Robinson

Favourite Maroons Origin moment: Hard to say being a Blues fan!

Why you love your job: Love everything about my job, being involved in footy 24/7 is like a dream come true! There is never a day that I don’t look forward to.

What Jess brings to the team: Jess Goldthorpe is another valuable member of the QRL Central team has a driving passion for the game which sees her playing Women’s Open grade fixtures with the Noosa Pirates and enjoying working with the leagues and clubs on the Sunshine Coast. Nothing is a drama for Jess. She is one of a few people who enjoy doing season draws.

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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