In a semi-final decider played with grand-final intensity, the Dirty Reds put together a confident and disciplined 45-7 win against Queanbeyan Whites that booked them a spot in the finals.
But that result was definitely not in the bag at half time when Goulburn held a narrow three-point lead over Queanbeyan.
Intensity from both sides was jacked up to maximum in the first half. Goulburn scored in the first five minutes when Henry Cooper burrowed across behind an old-fashioned driving maul. Mat Spratley added another ten minutes later and Goulburn was looking well poised for a big score, but Queanbeyan rallied and shut down Goulburn’s attack.
With a try of their own, the difference between the sides was closed to 10-7 and such was the respect for the Whites defence that shortly before the break Goulburn took a shot at penalty goal that missed the mark.
Whatever the final score may have seemed to indicate, this was not a dud Queanbeyan side. The match very definitely hung in the balance, but as has been a hallmark of the Reds this season, the seconds took the field with new purpose in the second half due to specific instructions on a few key areas from coach Ben Pearson.
Adam Lachlan added a try which when converted by Mikael Webber gave the Reds some more breathing space, but they didn’t stop for a breather.
Queanbeyan’s defence tightened up but Goulburn’s was impenetrable. The Whites were unable to score any second half points.
Strong sections of phase play paid dividends for Goulburn and 15 minutes into the second half Jordan Less scored for Goulburn. Three minutes later Chris Boardman crossed and five minutes after that Lees crossed for his second.
With all of the second half tries converted by Webber, Goulburn now held a 38-7 lead with twenty-two minutes on the clock.
The most promising aspect for the Reds going forward into the semis is that, with the result pretty much in no doubt, they still didn’t relax or let up intensity and Lees crossed for his hat-trick and the team’s seventh try about nine minutes from full time.
The stage had been set for a thriller from the outset with the winner going through to the semis and the loser going through their closet for crappy shirts for Mad Monday. But to add some extra context, this result broke the all-time record between the two sides (who first played in 1957), eclipsing Goulburn’s previous best win against Queanbeyan of 36-0.
Goulburn will most likely play Royals in the minor semi-final next weekend.
Bets and fairest points for Goulburn went to Mark Norton (3), Ben Todkill (2), Jordan Wilcox (1) and Adam Lachlan (1). Jayden Hunt was named Players Player.
Goulburn 45 (Jordan Lees 3, Henry Cooper, Chris Boardman, Mat Spratley and Adam Lachlan tries, Mikael Webber 5 conversions) bt Queanbeyan 7. ( Angus Balmaks, a try and Nathan Smith, a conversion)
The reserve grade match was probably a fair summation of their season. Great in parts.
We’ll start with the first part. Goulburn trailed 42 to 12 with the tackle-busting Whites routinely crossing the stripe. Goulburn points came from try-scorers Stan Williams and Abe Kara and conversion by Brandon Courts.
Ben Pearson spoke with the aside at half-time and emphasised that they only had 35 minutes of rugby left in the season… to put some pride and passion into it and do it for your mates.
When they ran back on the Dirty Twos scored two straight converted tries and dominated for the first twenty minutes. Queanbeyan replied with two unconverted tries and, though it doesn’t change the result, Goulburn won the second half by 14-10.
Like so many games this year, the ingredients were all in there but the cake only gets mixed at training.
Best and fairest points went to Abe Kara (3), Grant Mooney (2) and Jordan Lees (1) with Kara, who has been in exceptional form, also earning players player. He was also taken from the field with a nasty knee injury… and the club hopes it is nothing major.
Queanbeyan 52 (Tries: Tom Darmody 3, Tim Mcnamara 2, Fraser Kemp 1, Reinhold Kamkll 1 and Dom Finau 1. Conversions: Rueben House 6) bt Goulburn 26 (Tries: Stan Williams, Andrew Mewburn, Abram Kara and Brandon Courts. Conversions: Brandon Courts 3 ).