The Queensland Premier Rugby Grand Final was the season’s two best teams going head to head for the fourth time. Brothers and UQ was always going to be an epic matchup and with more than 9000 people at Ballymore to watch, it didn’t disappoint. Throughout the season, UQ had demonstrated their abilities to hit back quickly after an opposition try and Brothers would need to find a way to nullify this if they were to succeed in carrying away the Hospital Cup.
Brothers drew first blood in the match after turning down 3 points to opt for the touchline. Off the lineout, Hunt showed firstly fast feet and then fast hands as he offloaded to Brothers skipper Nathanuel Gendle who crossed in the fourth minute with Mitch Felsman converting.
Brothers had much of the possession in the following minutes, but it was typical UQ form that saw them returning fire with Jack Cornelsen crossing in the 11th minute. Cornelsen has had a great year for the students, showing his power in rucks and mauls, and his patience at the back of the pack with the pick and drive. Pincus converted to level the scores.
Brothers and UQ traded penalties and it was in the play between the points that for the second time this year, we saw Brothers put pressure on UQ with precision counter-rucking that saw turnovers forced. UQ could build phases, but then they would be on the back foot again, playing in their own half. It wasn’t until the 25th minute when the slower line speed of the Brethren saw the UQ backline put together some smooth moves and James Dalgleish crossed.
Brothers hit back immediately following a great crossfield pass from Baillie to Felsman who scooted along the sideline to cross. Converting his own try, Brothers were now up 17-15.
Again Felsman threatened the UQ line after making a massive break, only to be taken down 2m out. Tupou’s strong presence continued to be felt both ends of the field with his defence and his attacking runs. His first few steps are immeasurably powerful and if he makes it into his fourth step, he is that much harder to bring down.
Brothers overall had much stronger attacking plays than UQ and the counter ruck (defence as attack) again proved key for the Brethren as Hunt moved the ball to Fowler, Beauchamp and then onto Findlay-Henaway who crashed over to extend the lead. The sustained pressure by Brothers on the UQ line couldn’t be converted to points before halftime, but Brothers went into the sheds up 24-18.
At one point in the commentary of the match, the commentators were heard to describe the ongoing Tupou heading towards UQ’s Nathan Russell yet again as the boulder from the Temple of Doom. Not an inaccurate description, and I am sure Russell felt the same as he felt the impact of Tupou yet again!
Brothers attacked relentlessly in the first ten minutes of the second half, exemplified by a beautiful dummy, break, kick and chase down. It was a battle between Felsman Tom Banks, but Banks got there in the end. Twice in a few minutes UQ were pinged and Felsman lined up for penalties, and twice he missed.
Pincus had better luck with his penalty kick and narrowed Brothers’ lead to 3. In spite of the Brethren tiring, UQ weren’t successful in keeping the pressure on.
Brothers had to consolidate here, and then the game clincher (or clinger) occurred. Hunt and Patrick James combined to score a lovely try that was converted by Felsman. UQ’s Harry Parker returned serve with a sizzling try down the sideline, and Pincus converted to again narrow the scoreline to 3 points.
But that was where it stayed.
The impressive counter-rucking, three charged-down UQ kicks and perhaps an underdone Scott Gale (on the injury list all this week) saw Brothers deserved champions of the 2016 Queensland Premier Rugby season. As Brothers captain Gendle said after the match, this was a win two to three years in the making, and the players who have twice before missed out on drinking from the Cup learned from previous seasons to clinch the deal in the end.
The Game Changer
James’ try in the 70th minute was enough to keep the Brothers’ scoreboard ticking over and ensure that any final UQ moves wouldn’t be enough. It was a tight game, and while Brothers had a much quieter second half, UQ didn’t look like they had the grunt in the second half to win the match.
The G&GR MOTM
I know that Taniela Tupou was awarded the official Man of the Match, the Tony Shaw medal, but for mine Mitch Felsman and Stefano Hunt had stellar games. Hunt was treated for injury several times in the second half, but each time kept going, and made some fabulous attacking efforts. My 3-2-1 would be Hunt, Felsman, Tupou.
I think that the NRC this year, in its 3rd year, will be an absolute cracker. Seeing more and more of the Premier grade players continuing to step up, the NRC gives them an opportunity to continue that growth, hopefully to Super Rugby and beyond.
Score & Scorers
[one_half last=”no”]Brothers: 31
Tries: N Gendle, M Felsman, D Findlay-Henaway, P James
Conversions: M Felsman (4)
Penalties: M Felsman (1)[/one_half]
[one_half last=”yes”]UQ: 28
Tries: J Cornelsen, J Dalgleish, H Parker
Conversions: T Pincus (2)
Penalties: T Pincus (3) [/one_half]
Cards & citings