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With St.George Queensland Reds talent, fast-paced offences and momentum on their side, heavyweight clubs Brothers and Sunnybank are primed and ready for their Strategic Airlines Queensland Premier Rugby Grand Final matchup at Ballymore on Sunday.
A mere one point favoured second-placed Brothers over Sunnybank on the Premier Rugby ladder at the conclusion of the regular season and they are now ready to do battle for the Hospital Cup in a Grand Final contest featuring eight Reds players and the competition’s leader try scorer, Rota Setu.
Brothers earned the quickest passage to the Grand Final after overcoming an 11-point deficit against University in the Major Semi-Final to walk out 30-23 victors, while the Dragons crushed GPS 51-13 in the Minor Semi-Final before disposing of Minor Premiers and reigning champions University 40-13 last week.
Sunnybank will take the turf fuelled by seven Reds representatives but coach Rob Nowlan said, while having the best cattle helps, it will come down to which team turns up on the day.
“Grand finals aren’t usually won, they’re lost. You get two good sides like Brothers and Sunnybank and you put them against each other and the team that makes the least mistakes wins the game,” Nowlan said.
“We’ll try to keep the ball away from them a little bit, keep hold of our possession, and not make critical mistakes.”
Sunnybank is renowned for their dogged defence although it’s their relentless attack that has created belief amongst the group, scoring 91 points in their last two games.
Setu has scored four tries during those matches and has been well supported by an engine room featuring Albert Anae, Greg Holmes, Adam Wallace-Harrison, Jake Schatz, and Liam Gill.
But, while Brothers don’t possess the Super Rugby talent of the Dragons, coach Adrian Thompson is confident his backline is equally dangerous with consistent performers in Reds winger Dom Shipperley and point-scorers Anthony Pyers and brothers Dallan and Damon Murphy.
“Obviously, they’ve got some really talented players; some are Reds players and some of them aren’t. We just have to focus on what we have to do and hopefully they’re going to have to shut us down a bit as well,” Thompson said.
“They’re not playing for the Reds this Sunday, they’re playing for Sunnybank.”
Sunnybank last won the Premier Rugby competition in 2007 - an incredible 85-19 scoreline over the Gold Coast - with halfback Ben Lucas claiming two tries and a record individual point’s tally of 35 in the match.
“We just have to not be complacent. In 2008 we were a little bit complacent and Brothers pushed on and they got over us through to the Grand Final,” Nowlan said.
Brothers are equally experienced having won in 2009 – 26-19 against Souths – and being finalists in 2006 and 2008, where they ended Sunnybank’s campaign to earn their spot in the Grand Final.
“There are four or five blokes who’ve played in three or four Grand Finals over the last six years, so I think everyone’s excited and looking forward to it. This is what the players train and play for all year,” Thompson said.
The contest stands at one apiece for Brothers and Sunnybank in 2011; Brothers holding off the Dragons 28-24 in round six, before Sunnybank hit back with a solid 33-15 win in round 15.
In a rare act of agreement, the three Premier Rugby coaches interviewed unanimously hedged their bets on the in-form Sunnybank side to outclass Brothers, citing their professional players and powerful flare.
Matt Pini from GPS said “I think Sunnybank will win just because of all their professional players; they just have too much power.”
Lew Price from Norths said “I think Sunnybank will win simply because they have a lot more offensive flare and the ability to get the job done. The players that have come back into the Sunnybank side are really striking some good form.”
Brett Whalley from Souths said “I will say Sunnybank because they’re in good form at the moment and they’ve got a lot of players who are used to the big stage.”
At halftime of the Premier Rugby Final, naming-rights sponsor Strategic Airlines will be giving away airfares to Hawaii valued at over $5000. To enter the competition, attendees simply need to register their details with Strategic Airlines representatives at Ballymore on Sunday from 1:00pm. Entry is free and valid for those aged 18 years and over.
ABC Radio Grandstand Queensland will be broadcasting the second half of the match live, while listeners can tune in from 3:00pm to receive regular live updates during the opening 40 minutes.
Entry and Parking Costs
Saturday 24 September
Entry: Adults $5 (Children Under 16 Free)
Sunday 25 September
Entry: Adults $10; Concession $5 (Children Under 16 Free)
Grand Final Schedule
Saturday 24 September
8:35am GPS v Souths Colts 2 – Pool B
10:20am University v Redcliffe Colts 2 – Pool A
12:05pm GPS v University Colts 1
1:50pm Wests v University 4th Grade
4:00pm Sunnybank v GPS 3rd Grade
6:10pm Easts v Wests Women
Sunday 25 September
9:00am University v Sunnybank 2nd Grade
11:10am Sunnybank v GPS 1st Grade
1:20pm University v Gold Coast Premier Colts
3:05pm Brothers v Sunnybank Premier
Queensland Rugby Club Members Bar – Reds Member Offer
All St.George Queensland Reds Members will receive access to the Queensland Rugby Club Members Bar at Ballymore on Saturday and Sunday. To gain entry, patrons are required to present their Reds Membership Card. A further two guests can be signed in per membership. Opening hours for the QRC Members Bar, located within the McLean Grandstand, are as follows:
Strategic Airlines Queensland Premier Rugby and Brisbane Rugby Grand Finals
Saturday 24 September – Open from 12:00pm
Sunday 25 September – Open from 12:00pm
14 DECEMBER 2018