By Liam Emerton
Two of the three men’s Gladstone Rugby League sides finished their season on a high this weekend.
The Valley Diehards and the Tannum Sands Seagulls both won their final game of the year by knocking off the Emu Park Emus and North Chargers respectively.
The Diehards almost choked the victory when they almost dropped a 26-4 lead.
The Parkies came back and took a 28-26 lead but a massive David West try, to the delight of the home crowd, won the game for the Valleys.
In the Tannum Sands match, they were able to defeat a very game Norths Chargers and finish their season on a brilliant high.
The Seagulls will build on their 24-16 victory for next year but it was the perfect way for the side to win.
Those two round 14 losers will actually play in the elimination final which is all set for 3pm at Browne Park on Sunday afternoon which will pit the Emu Park Emus against the Norths Chargers.
In terms of late season form the Chargers certainly have had the better run to the finals period.
They may have lost to the Tannum Sands Seagulls in the final round, but before then Norths had defeated the Fitzroy-Gracemere Sharks and Gladstone Brothers in back-to-back weeks.
Overall for the season the Chargers finished with a record of seven wins and five losses and a positive points difference of 67, which was the third best overall.
Norths also boast the third best attack in the league, outscoring every side bar Yeppoon and Rockhampton Brothers.
For the Parkies they had a red-hot start to the competition, winning their first three matches of the season.
But a loss to the Chargers in round four broke that streak and could have derailed their season.
However the Emus continued on a roll, knocking off Rocky Brothers and Gladstone Brothers in the next two games.
But it was the loss to the Fitzroys that really started a downward spiral where they lost to Tannum Sands Seagulls, Yeppoon Seagulls, Rocky Brothers and finally Valley Diehards in the final four weeks of the competition.
That has left the side without a win since 11 June which means they will still be lacking some confidence.
Emu Park needs to find a way to win against the Chargers who will be eager to eliminate the Emus after they dropped Norths out of the comp last year in the elimination final.
This year, thanks to the added Gladstone teams, the finals became a five-team series with Yeppoon Seagulls winning the minor premiership and earning a week off.
That leaves the Rockhampton Brothers and the Fitzroy-Gracemere Sharks to do battle in the qualifying final.
The winner of that match will play Yeppoon with a chance of making it into the grand final.
The Rocky Brothers and Fitzroys have battled twice this season with each scoring a win a piece.
The most recent occurrence was in round 14, just this Saturday, when Rockhampton won by just two points.
The reverse fixture saw the Sharks continue a solid start to the season by knocking off Brothers 36-18 in round three.
Each winning one match, the sides are clearly evenly matched and it could come down to a field goal this weekend.
It also marks a very special occasion for the Sharkies who will celebrate their first team in a decade to compete in the finals series.
That match is scheduled for Saturday night at Browne Park with the loser facing the winner of the elimination final next weekend.