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Queensland Premier Rugby Clubs University of Queensland and Sunnybank Dragons will face off for Queensland Rugby’s oldest and most coveted trophy, the Hospital Cup, in this Sunday’s grand final at Ballymore.
The match will feature seven St.George Queensland Reds players. Tim Buchanan, David McDuling, Curtis Browning and Scott Gale will all suit up for minor premiers UQ, with Greg Holmes, Jake Schatz, and Liam Gill set to pull on the green jersey for their beloved Dragons.
Minor-premiers University have been standouts all season securing 14 wins, one draw and only dropping one game to their grand-final rivals, Sunnybank.
“It feels good to be here,” University head coach Mick Heenan said.
“Us and Sunnybank have been the best two teams in the competition all season so I think we’re set for a great game.
“You just have to look at Sunnybank’s second half last Sunday to know there will be no hint of complacency from our boys.
“When you’re going up against three or four Wallabies it’s always going to be tough and the result can really go either way.”
Sunnybank head coach Rod Seib shared Heenan’s sentiment.
“We’re very pleased to be here on the back of our work ethic, training standards and work in games,” Seib said.
“We have crawled back into the competition after starting slow and you just have to look at Sunday’s match to see evidence of that.
“To come out in the second half and play like we did, it was just great to see the commitment from the boys.”
Sunnybank’s 28-0 second half against GPS was a message to University they have what it takes to down the minor premiers, if they weren’t already aware.
Through their work at set piece time and efficient game management by Jake McIntyre and Henry Taefu, Sunnybank kept Jeeps inside their own half and took an ineluctable grip on the match.
The performances of Reds stalwarts Holmes and Gill were typical of the standards the Dragons have set through 2014.
“They were incredibly important for us,” Seib said.
“Gilly is a world-class player and there aren’t too many guys that you can say that about at club Rugby level.
“Not only in his breakdown work but in his ability to take the ball to the line, be strong through contact and make the right decision. He sets an example for the rest of the boys.”
The presence of Gill will be a focal point for the Red Heavies, who rely on efficient work at the breakdown as the first step in launching their poisonous attack.
“Gill really dominated in the second half last week so for us it’s about meeting the physical challenge that their ball runners present and then sending big numbers to the breakdown so he doesn’t get a chance in there,” Heenan said.
Overcoming the scrummaging power of Holmes and Queensland Country NRC squad member Hayden Hirsimaki will be imperative to a University win on the weekend, as the duo dominated the Gallopers scrum in the second half of the preliminary final.
When quizzed on how his side would handle the pressure the Dragons have applied on several teams this season at scrum time, Heenan provided a simple reply.
“We will have to front up, we just have to,” Heenan said.
“We hung tough in the major semi so hopefully we can do the same again on Sunday.”
Despite being arguably their biggest asset on Saturday, Seib played down the role his team’s set piece would have in Sunday’s result.
“We will be a force at scrum time, as we have been in most games, but Uni are always strong at set piece, so if we don’t dominate it we’ll certainly be looking to withstand their pressure and get some clean ball ourselves,” Seib said.
Having locked up the Doughty Shield, the next stop for the Red Heavies is the Premier and Premier Reserve double, which Heenan said would be a monumental achievement for the club.
“Having Premier and Premier Reserve through to the grand final is massive and having locked up the Doughty Shield - which is our main priority at the start of every season - the Premier and Premier Reserve double is now the go,” Heenan said.
Having come from a 0-3 start to the season, a grand final win would mean just as much to the Dragons.
“There would be so much satisfaction if we get over the line,” Seib said.
“We were all really hurting after Round 3, so to turn things around from there and finish it off this Sunday would be something I’ll never forget.”
Nine teams with high hopes for season 2014 set out on a mission on March 22 and one by one, the sun has set on their season.
Twenty weeks later, as the sun sets over Ballymore on Sunday afternoon, we will have a deserved winner of Queensland Premier Rugby’s greatest prize – The Hospital Cup.
Queensland Premier Rugby grand-final – University of Queensland v Sunnybank, Ballymore Stadium, Sunday 17 August, 3:05pm
University of Queensland
Greg Holmes (Reds, QLD Country)
(Reds WTS, Brisbane City) Tim Buchanan
(Reds, Brisbane City) David McDuling
Ben Adams (QLD Country)
Lolo Fakaosilea (QLD Country)
Liam Gill (Reds, Brisbane City)
(Reds, Brisbane City) Curtis Browning
Jake Schatz (Reds, Brisbane City)
(Reds WTS, QLD Country) Scott Gale
(Brisbane City) James Dalgleish
Jake McIntyre (Brisbane City)
(Brisbane City) Harry Parker
Junior Laloifi (Brisbane City)
Rex Tapuai (Brisbane City)
(QLD Country) Rota Setu
Matthew Feaunati (Brisbane City)
(QLD Country) Tom Pincus
Brando Va’aulu (Brisbane City)
(Brisbane City) Sef Faagase
Haydn Hirsimaki (QLD Country)
Chazz Mahina (Brisbane City)
(QLD Country) Jack De Guingand
(Brisbane City) William Thompson
Rod Seib (Brisbane City Asst Coach)
Adam Wallace-Harrison, Michael Bishop
Michael O’Rielley, Peter Beauchamp
14 DECEMBER 2018