Finals fever at Frenchville

Joshua Sparks muscles his way over the line before putting the ball down to score the match-winning try.

By Liam Emerton

The Rugby Capricornia championship hosted its opening finals matches at Ryan Park on Saturday afternoon.

Four games took place on saturday with a women’s semi-final contest, a reserve grade grand final qualifier, a A Grade elimination match and an A Grade preliminary final all being played.

Reserve Grade QF: Bilo Cockatoos versus Mount Morgan

In the opening game the Biloela Cockatoos took on the Mount Morgan Lorikeets in the reserve grade preliminary final.

The Cockatoos took out the second grade minor premiership without losing a match while the Lorikeets return to the competition was made much more successful after the league was split.

With Bilo coming into the match as heavy favourites the mountain men had to be extremely strong in defence and they certainly were in the first half, allowing only a single try in the first 40 minutes.

Jeremiah Qaranivavalagi was the lone scorer for the Cockatoos in the opening half as they went into the break as 5-0 leaders.

But a much better second half performance from the pre-match favourites saw them come away with a 29-0 victory over the Mount.

That will now see Biloela progress through to the reserve grade grand final while Lorikeets have a second chance to make the big dance this weekend.

Mount Morgan will have to match up against Frenchville’s reserve grade to have a shot to avenge their qualifying loss.

Women’s Sevens QF: Frenchville Pioneers versus Biloela Cockatiels

The first final for the home side saw the minor-premiers, the Frenchville Pioneers collide with an under-strength Biloela Cockatiels.

It was the only women’s final to be played after Brothers forfeited to the Gladstone-Colts combined squads in the elimination final.

The Pioneers truly dominated the qualifying final and scored a 29-5 victory.

Bilo, who only had just a single substitution, were outclassed and outmatched by a Frenchville side full of energy.

That win has put the side straight into the women’s sevens grand final while Biloela will have to take on the fresh Gladstone-Colts.

Men’s A Grade EF: Colts Rugby v Rockhampton Brothers

The first do-or-die clash of the Rugby Capricornia Championship came in the form of an instant classic.

After a dominant first half, it looked like Rockhampton Brothers were going to run away with the contest and into the next round.

The Fish led 24-5 in the opening stanza and had all of the control in the elimination final.

But the Colts, who were second for a majority of the season, staged an incredible comeback.

After holding most of the field position and possession to start the second half the Colts cracked the Brothers’ defence and brought the game to within 12 points.

But straight off the subsequent kick off Rockhampton regathered and scored a crucial try.

With the Colts now trailing 31-12 and not long left on the clock, the Colts needed something special, but they certainly believed in a miracle.

The Colts found their first breakthrough when Steven Anderson crossed for a five-pointer, providing them with some hope.

With less than four minutes left, Isaiah Sullivan then scored for the Colts just a few plays later, and after two consecutive conversions by Dean Allen, the side just trailed by just five points.

An error off the kick off almost killed the hopes of the Colts but they were able to regain possession and force their way down the field.

And with just a minute on the clock, the miracle comeback was complete when Loama Ieremia found his way into the corner.

A lot of questions from Brothers came around the finish and if he bounced the ball, or even made the line, but after a quick chat between the officials, the try was awarded, making the score 31-31.

So it was Allen, who had converted three from four opportunities in the final, who was tasked with the potential match-winning shot at goal.

But his kick just fell short and left the match level with barely any time left in the contest.

With the game all tied up, extra time was beckoning the two sides, a desperate few moments would end a brilliant contest.

The teams traded possession before Brothers finally got a true foothold and made it over the advantage line.

A short side raid by Rockhampton saw them overpower and when the ball got into the hands of Joshua Sparks, his eyes lit up and he broke a tackle to score the match-winner.

With no conversion needed Sparks’ try ended the match and broke the hearts of the Colts in the most remarkable way.

Brothers will now play in the preliminary final against the Frenchville Pioneers after they were knocked off by the Dawson Valley Drovers.

A Grade men’s QF: Frenchville Pioneers versus Dawson Valley

After taking out the minor premiership the Frenchville Pioneers looked to book their spot in the grand final.

And it was the home side that struck first over the Drovers when they opened the scoring with two quick tries through Yacob Kial and Cameron Lindley, taking a 12-0 lead.

Drovers struck back fairly quick to make it 12-7 but Frenchville re-extended their lead to 17-7 when Joshua Bolck crossed.

With three minutes left the Drovers scored a crucial try and brought the game to within an unconverted try with the scoreboard reading 17-12.

And with a last-minute field goal attempt going wayward, the Pioneers held that scoreline into the break.

In the worst possible start for the home side, Drovers opened the score in the second half, however a missed conversion attempt kept the scores level at 17-17.

Frenchville found their way back into the second half, shrugging off that try and gaining most of the field position.

A forced penalty going the way of Frenchy gave them the golden opportunity to take a 20-17 lead, which they swiftly converted.

Dawson Valley knew they had to be the next to put points on the board and they found another gear.

They did find the tryline next, with a huge argument from Frenchville over the putdown, the referees believed that the ball had touched the turf and awarded Dawson Valley a go-ahead try, which made the score 22-20 after an unsuccessful conversion.

What really hurt Frenchy in the final 10 minutes of the qualifying final was their kicks after just taking a clearance from the opposition.

Two of those flew over the sideline, giving Dawson Valley crucial field position and what would become the game-winning try.

A break down the left-edge saw Matt Pearce break through the Frenchville defence and book their ticket to Biloela in a fortnight time.

That leaves the Pioneers a second-chance when they take on the Rockhampton Brothers on Saturday.

Frenchville sat in the same position as the Brothers last season and won the grand final from the fourth spot so it will be a huge test for both sides and will likely be a thriller to see who will meet the Drovers in the big dance.