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Semi-finals wrap: Devils and Cutters through to grand final

Norths Devils and Mackay Cutters will face off in this year's BMD Premiership grand final after winning their respective semi-finals today.

The Devils toppled Burleigh Bears at Bishop Park and the Cutters beat Western Clydesdales in Mackay.

The Devils were up 18-0 at half-time; the Bears wore old Devils jerseys for the first half with their kits left at the Gold Coast.

But the Bears came out firing in the second half, once their Bears kits arrived, with Shaianne McGlone scoring straight away to give the Bears some momentum, but the Devils continued to grind and never let up in attack or defence.

Devils coach Meg Ward - who has been in camp all week with the Harvey Norman Queensland Maroons - was shellshocked at the completion of her side's semi-final.

"How exciting.... this is crazy," Ward said.

"This is not what I imagined. All I wanted to achieve was to have girls that wanted to come back and play again next year.

"Honestly it wasn’t about making the finals… well, that’s a lie… it always is…  you’ve always got to have an end goal, but for me, initially, it was all about bringing a group together, making sure that they learnt something, that they left the season feeling fitter, stronger and having more understanding of the game.

"To go to a final, I’m a bit rattled."

Celebration. Photo: Vanessa Hafner/QRL
Celebration. Photo: Vanessa Hafner/QRL

Ward said the Bears were always going to be tough to beat in a semi-final and she was so proud of her side.

"We always knew that Burleigh was going to show up, no matter if it was in our jerseys or theirs… that they were going to show up to play... and they did... they were coming at us early," Ward said.

"We’ve had a massive focus this week on our defence. I’m a really big believer in the saying that attack wins you fans and defence wins you premieships, so we’ve been really emphasizing that all week.

"We’ve been so grateful to have had Joshy McGuire coming in and helping us out... to see what these girls were able to produce today, especially in that first half, I think that really set the standard for the rest of the game.

"They just put their bodies on the line. I’m so proud of them."

Ward said she was aware making the grand final in her first year as coach was a massive feat, but it was the team that got there, not her.

"It’s massive. People keep congratulating me and I'm really grateful, and I do think a coach plays a part, but at the end of the day it’s the girls who go out and produce it on the footy field.... I’m stoked but so proud of the girls," Ward said.

"The effort and energy they put in... I just couldn’t be prouder and they're getting everything they deserve for the effort that they’ve put in.

"Bring on the grand final."

Bears captain Chelsea Lenarduzzi said the Devils were on fire from the start of the game.

"Norths were really good... especially that first half," Lenarduzzi said.

"They’ve got some big middles and they just rolled it down the field. They’ve got a lot of class in their spine. I thought Jada Ferguson was really good… she’s had a really great season.

"Jocelyn Kelleher, again, great kicking game. 40/30… killed us."

Lenarduzzi said it had been a tough month for the Bears with injury, so she was proud of her side's efforts in the tough encounter.

"It’s been a really tough month for us. We’ve lost, not just the Origin girls, but lost probably six to eight of our 17 to injury so I’m really proud of the group," Lenarduzzi said.

"Last week, the victory against Brisbane Tigers, backs against the wall... I am the oldest by a mile and I’m not even 30… actually Tallisha Harden is the oldest, but other than us two, our average age is about 20, so I’m really proud of the girls who have played the last three weeks.

"Sarina Masaga and Monty (Clifford)… Hannah Montana, we call her, both of our back rowers.... I think they played really well every time they’ve been on the field for us. Really aggressive. I hope they get NRLW contracts. They deserve it.

"Tyler Birch has played every position for us this year. One of our old heads at the Bears and tries her guts out every week."

Lenarduzzi said Devils would be hard to beat in the grand final.

"To be honest, I think they’ve been the best team all year... I know Cutters have had more wins but I think Norths have gotten better as the season has gone along," Lenarduzzi said.

"They’ve really developed their attack. Their fullback Montaya Hudson, absolute gun... love her… hate her today, but love her every other day. If she can get some early touches, I think they’ll be a real threat."

The Cutters were up 6-4 at half-time of their semi-final against the Clydesdales, then picked up the pace in the second half to claim the win and their spot in the big dance.

Celebration. Photo: Ben Van Moolenbroek/QRL
Celebration. Photo: Ben Van Moolenbroek/QRL

The grand final is at Kayo Stadium at Redcliffe next weekend.

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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