Dalby's Risdon Cup title defence still alive
DALBY'S Wagners Risdon Cup premiership defence remains alive after it saw off a bold challenge from Toowoomba Rangers today to earn a place in next weekend's grand final.
The Wheatmen set up a third successive grand-final confrontation with Goondiwindi with a come-from-behind 33-21 preliminary final victory over the plucky Rangers at John Ritter Oval.
Rangers saved arguably their strongest injury-plagued season performance until last but it wasn't enough to deny the Wheatmen who answered their challenge with the champion qualities that have taken them to successive title wins.
Rangers made the most of a good start to race to a 14-3 lead after 23 minutes following converted tries to Matt Bougoure and winger Adam Berthlenson who scored from a dropped Dalby ball near halfway.
But the Wheatmen closed the gap to 14-10 at the break after a converted try to winger Henry Finlay in the 33rd minute.
Rangers again got off to a good start in the second half to forge a 21-13 lead after prop Baci Wilson forced his way over between the posts.
With a major match upset staring them in the face, the Wheatmen responded on the back of an inspirational display from fullback Andrew Turner.
A try to winger Rob Walton in the 64th minute kick-started the Wheatmen's fightback which saw them grab a match lead for the first time four minutes later when Charles Green forced his way over to set up a 25-21 scoreboard in favour of the home team.
Dalby sealed the deal with a late try to Hugh Brosnan and a third penalty goal to Dan Merker to complete the 33-21 scoreline which didn't truly reflect the whole-hearted effort of Rangers.
Winning coach Nathan Bradley said experience when it was needed helped provide Dalby with the winning edge.
"That's what everyone wants to see - two teams going at it,” Bradley said.
"And in the end the result was there that we wanted and we finally got over the line.
"But pay full credit to Rangers.
"From where they've come from throughout the season to where they are now is a credit to them.
"They really came to play today.
"Probably our experience when it came down to it in the end got us there.”
Rangers' coach Tom Crockett paid tribute to his troops who finished heavily on the wrong side of the penalty count and who also saw John Lynch yellow-carded in the second half.
"The penalty count hurt us in the end. They went against us 24-3 which is hard to overcome,” Crockett said.
"Some days you just don't get the rub of the green.
"But they gave it everything and I'm super proud of them.
"On another day we might have made it through to the grand final.
"It's the end of the road for us but I think we're looking all right for next year which is very encouraging.”
Dalby has qualified all three grades for grand final day after the Wheatmen defeated Condamine 37-12 in B grade and Goondiwindi 3-0 in C grade after extra time.
DALBY 33 (Henry Finlay, Rob Walton, Charlie Green, Hugh Brosnan tries; Dan Merker 3 penalties, 2 conversions) d TOOWOOMBA RANGERS 21 (Matt Bougoure, Adam Berthelsen, Baci Wilson tries; Malachy Grealy 3 converions).
DALBY 37 d CONDAMINE 12
DALBY 3 d GOONDIWINDI 0
after extra time