Queensland Premier Rugby heavyweights Sunnybank are one step closer to a second successive Hospital Cup after recording a hefty 43-15 victory over Brothers in the Preliminary Final at Ballymore on Sunday.
Through the combination of their skilful backline and clever capitalisation on their opposition’s errors, Sunnybank managed to score six tries to two against the minor premiers. It was a disappointing end to Brothers’ campaign, coming a week after falling to University 59-12.
Brothers were first on the scoreboard with a penalty goal to Matt Smith, but that was all that could be managed in the opening 20 minutes.
Sunnybank built into the game slowly but strongly after a break from flanker George Blomfield led to a Ben Tapuai five-pointer.
After this scare, Brothers were able to execute some characteristically big hits in order to prevent a second try minutes later. However, Sunnybank capitalised on several fumbles from the Brethren and this led to the scoring of more points.
Paul Alo-Emile, George Blomfield, Shane Seiuli, Ben Tapuai, Rex Tapuai and Danny Routledge all got on the scoresheet with five-pointers for Sunnybank.
Sunnybank were boosted by St.George Queensland Reds talent for the encounter, with rampaging lock Rob Simmons pivotal to the Dragons winning the forwards and set-piece battle.
‘I really enjoyed it. I was a bit nervous to start with but I really wanted to just get out there and prove to everyone that I wanted to be here and achieve the best possible result for my club,’ Simmons said.
Rex Tapuai was a stand-out performer for Sunnybank, being vocal in setting up several tries and gaining territory, while winger Routledge was dynamic with each possession.
It was Routledge who also gave the Dragons an insurmountable lead when he extended the 13-point half-time margin with the opening try of the second half.
The final ten minutes saw some good work from Brothers, with their speedy backline setting up a runaway try for Nathanuel Gendle. A confidence boost came from this try and Luke Beauchamp scored another to bring the final score to 41-15.
The stage is now set for a thrilling 2012 Grand Final contest when Sunnybank and 2010 winners University do battle on Sunday, 23 September, at Ballymore.
Dragons coach Rod Seib said he is looking forward to the Grand Final, but has shunned any notion of pressure to achieve back-to-back titles.
‘From the outside it looks like there’s pressure, but within the team we’re not thinking about that. Of course there are some nerves but we’re fairly confident as a group,’ Seib said.
Despite his side’s confidence leading into the Grand Final, he acknowledged that it will be a tough game. ‘Uni is a superb team,’ he said, ‘So we’ll really have to be on our game in order to win it.’
So the stage is set for a blockbuster match next week! The season has gone so quickly and once again we see a Grand Final involving two teams of a very high calibre. Who does everyone predict to take home the Hospital Cup for 2012?