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Forty-one-year-old Radike Samo produced a man-of-the-match performance in GPS 42-24 major semi-final win over UQ on Sunday. Samo started at lock and made his presence felt with heavy hitting and a number of line-bending carries. He shifted to Number 8 for the last quarter of the match and crossed for the Gallopers final try. At 41, Samo is nearly twice the age of UQ’s starting locks Sam Pim and Phil Potgieter and he used every bit of that experience to produce a physically dominant performance on Sunday.Radike Samo crossed for the Gallopers fifth and final try as GPS booked their place in the 2017 Queensland Premier Rugby grand final. Photo: QRU - Brendan Hertel2. Sunnybank's finals nerve
Sunnybank won the 2011 title and have featured in the finals series in all but two years since then. While their squad has invariably changed, that experience in knock-out footy showed on Sunday as Sunnybank came from behind to snatch victory from Wests. With six minutes remaining, the Dragons trailed 22-14 before a clever decision to kick for goal put them just five points behind. They gradually advanced to Wests’ red zone and then tightened the screws at scrum time forcing referee Damon Murphy to award three set-piece penalties. With a five-metre scrum opportunity, Sunnybank delivered another pushover effort that presented the opportunity for Chazz Mahina to dot down for the match winner.
3. Wests fairy tale comes to an end
It took 10 years for the Bulldogs to return to Ballymore for finals footy and they got out of the gates quickly to lead Sunnybank 12-0. Sunnybank’s late match winner put an end to their fairy tale story but Wests must be proud of their efforts. In one year, the club has gone from cellar dwellers to Queensland Premier Rugby finalists. The Bulldogs were seconds away from preliminary finals berth and must be congratulated on an entertaining season. Fullback Byron Hutchinson finished the season with 129 points to his name.
Wests fullback Byron Hutchinson finished the season as Queensland Premier Rugby's fourth highest point scorer. Photo: QRU - Meggie Whitchurch4. GPS will play their first grand final since 2013
GPS will be back at Ballymore on grand final day for the first time since 2013 after Sunday’s win over UQ. The Gallopers have sat in the stands for the past three years as UQ, Souths and Brothers have won titles. But after finishing the regular season in second spot, GPS delivered a polished finals performance to blow UQ off the park. AJ Alatimu slotted four from five conversions and added a further three penalties that ensured the Gallopers grand final place and an invaluable two-week preparation period.
5. Brothers young guns book premier colts grand final spot
Brothers premier colts team welcomed back a huge amount of premier grade experience for their major semi-final clash with Wests. Lawson Creighton, Emmanuel Meafou, Reuben Wall and Fraser McReight have all been regular premier grade features in 2017 despite still being eligible to play colts. As the Brethren fell short of finals in premier grade, these players made themselves available and helped Brothers to a 26-10 win over Wests. That result sees Brothers through to the grand final with Wests set to play Sunnybank in the preliminary final next weekend.
Fraser McReight played eight matches at flanker for the Brethren's premier grade side. Photo: QRU - Brendan Hertel
19 JULY 2018