By Barry Gibson
There was finals action aplenty across regional Queensland last weekend. Rain. Wind. Heat. Sunshine. Tears of joy. Tears on anguish. Big crowds. The footy had it all.
The heavens opened up on the Darling Downs for their biggest day of the year at Rockville Oval, but it didn’t perturb the punters from coming along to barrack for their team. In a clinical display the Toowoomba Tigers claimed the women’s title over the University Cougars by 40 points. However, the Cougars turned around their fortunes in the Allied Pickford’s men’s senior game, claiming a 24 point win over a gallant Goondiwindi Hawks outfit. Jaiden Fidge had a big day out, kicking six goals for the premiers.
From one extreme to another, clear skies and 30 degrees set the scene setter for Grand Final day in Townsville at the picturesque Riverway Stadium. The Hermit Park Tigers reserves had to dig deep against a dogged Curra Swans to record an impressive fourth premiership in a row. The Tigers good fortunes continued in the senior game, with the reigning premiers coming from six goals down in the third term to win by 11 points against a determined University Hawks outfit.
The Hawks took it to the minor premiers from the first bounce, however a big finals campaign took its toll, as the Hawks tired and got run over late in the last quarter. Tigers co-captain Jason Di Betta led his team with aplomb, slotting five majors and earning himself the Rico Butler Medal for best on ground honours.
It was Preliminary Final day in sunny Mackay and the perfect conditions produced some quality football. In the men’s reserves grade the Mackay City Hawks easily accounted for the North Mackay Saints, setting up a showdown with the Eastern Swans in the Grand Final. Mackay Magpies created an upset in the women’s encounter, rolling the top of the table North Mackay Saints by 12 points.
The Maggies will now meet the Bakers Creek Tigers for a tilt at the premiership. In the Allied Pickford’s Cup senior men’s game, the Eastern Swans maintained their impressive finals form, knocking over the Saints by 16 points and earning the opportunity to pit themselves against the highly fancied Whitsunday Sea Eagles.
Finals got underway in Cairns in warm and humid conditions. Reigning premiers Port Douglas advanced to another Grand Final with a solid 39 point win over the Cairns Saints, with former Sydney Swan Brett Meredith leading the way for the Crocs with another impressive midfield display. The John Tootell led South Cairns Cutters set up a Preliminary Final showdown with the Saints after a comfortable five goal win over Centrals Trinity Beach.
Jake Roach was the Cutters best, winning plenty of the footy and kicking two majors. In the women’s it was the final round of the home and away season, with North Cairns Tigers finishing minor premiers and advancing straight to the Grand Final in a fortnight, while South Cairns and Manunda will battle it out in next week for the right to challenge the Tigers for the premiership.
Out in the wild west the Buffaloes had a hard fought 26 point win over the Young Guns to set up a huge clash against the Tigers in next week’s Mt Isa Grand Final.
It was Preliminary Final day in Northern Rivers and the Tweed Tigers ladies started the day with an upset, accounting for minor premiers Ballina by 14 points. League leading goal kicker, Elanor Crawley, continued her good form adding two majors for the Tigers, helping set up a cracking Grand Final clash with reigning premiers Lismore. The tables were turned in the men’s senior clash, with Ballina winning a cliff hanger over Tweed by a mere two points. The Bombers now have the monumental task of stopping an inform Byron Bay from claiming a premiership three peat.