Grand Final Wrap Up


Wagners Wellcamp Risdon Cup Grand Final | Review

The 2017 Downs Rugby season was wrapped up in style with well over 2000 spectators being treated to one of the biggest Grand Finals in recent years. The crowd witnessed 5 cracking games of Rugby over the weekend with blockbuster finishes in every single match. Congratulations to the A, B and C Grade victors along with the first ever Emilee Cherry Cup champions. It was a rare bit of history created in the three mens grades, with the first time in 20 years and only the second time ever that all 3 premiers were able to do so back to back. 

It is safe to say that the Chinchilla River Rats did not go down without a fight in the first match of the day up against the Goondiwindi Emus in the C Grade Grand Final. It seemed that the Emus were going to run away with an easy victory holding a 19-0 lead with tries to Brock Lawless, Doug McDougall and Sam Munsie. Chinchilla turned up the heat in the final 15 minutes of the match when they ran in their first try after a strong line break from Josh Wolski crashed over the line. It was only a short time after when Fred Sheppard raced down the sideline and bumping off his opposing winger to bring the scores up to 19-10. Immediately after the kick off Chinchilla were back in attack and a break by Chris McEvoy saw another River Rat cross the line and converted for 17 points to 19. Goondiwindi Emus showed their strength and experience to hold out the line for the final minutes of the match and to make it a Hat-trick of C Grade Cups.

The B Grade Grand Final match saw a rematch of 2016 when the Dalby Wheatmen took on the Toowoomba Rangers in an epic clash. Dalby Wheatmen were on the attack straight from the kick off and a try saving tackle in goal prevented Wheatmen, Ben Cullen, from grounding the ball. Shortly after, a charge down on Dalby's 22m line resulted in Rangers Matthew Krelle regathering ball to draw first blood with a successful conversion opening the score to 7-0. Shortly after halftime, the Wheatmen spread the ball wide to Brodie Schwerin who sped away for the tryline bringing the score to 7-5. Lachie McVeigh then crashed over the line again for the Wheatmen after some powerful pick and drive action to take the lead. Rangers then retaliated as Adam Maxwell took advantage of an open blindside to dart around the corner for an easy try to level out the score to 12 a piece. It was then in the dying minutes that the Wheatmen's discipline slipped resulting in a short arm penalty on Dalby's tryline. Rangers flyhalf, Ben Tuesley saw an opening in the backline and swerved his way through defenders to seal the victory and Rangers emerged as Grand Final champions for B Grade.

The Women 7's were competing for the inaugural Emillee Cherry Cup, where Cherry herself was in attendance to present the trophy to the Grand Final victors. After a tight win over the Dalby Wheatchix in the Preliminary Finals, the Minor Premiers, Warwick Water Rats, were up against their rivals Toowoomba Bears in the Grand Final match. The Bears comfortably ran away with the lead early in the match putting on 2 quick tries before halftime to see the score open to 10 - 0 at the break. Bears came out strong again with another two tries after quick feet from Kiara Taylor, excellent control and vision from Ainslie Gale and strong metres gained by Maria Chong-Nee. Warwick Water Rats refused to give up hope and ran in for a try themselves, but it was too late for a comeback and the Toowoomba Bears finished as the inaugural Women Rugby 7's Champions and secured the Emilee Cherry Cup.

The biggest rivalry in Downs Rugby was set to take the field in the Wagners Wellcamp Risdon Cup Grand Final when the Goondiwindi  Emus were challenged by the Dalby Wheatmen in the main event. The first half of the match was equally contested with both teams desperately attempting to open the scores, but each time foiled by the opposition. It was nearly certain that Matt Donovan was going to crash over after finding space on the wing, but a crunching tackle saw him go into touch. After a lineout steal and forward momentum from Dalby they were only inches from the line when Dan Merker fired a pass out wide to flanker, John Moloney and quick feet saw him pound the ball into the tryline and open the try scoring margin to 7 - 0. Shortly after kick off, Dalby were back on the attack and Matt Donovan again found open space, but with defenders sliding off Donovan found the line and Dalby found themselves 14 points ahead leading into halftime. The Goondiwindi Emus came firing back in the second half, however the Wheatmen's defence was too strong and were able to regather possession every time. A discipline error 10m out of Goondiwindi's tryline gave Dan Merker an opportunity to fire another shot at goal and lengthen the lead 17 points to nil. After determination and slick set piece from the Emus, Tom Jobling was able to shoot down the sideline and open the score for Goondiwindi 7 points to 17. This lit the spark Goondiwindi needed for a comeback and it was Sam Jobling who dealt a second blow to bring the score up to 12 points to 17, however Dalby was able to hold out every attacking piece thereon out and the Emus ran out of steam. Dalby Wheatmen, for a second year in a row, secured the Risdon Cup and remain Rugby Champions on the Darling Downs. Mal Eiby Medalist and Captain of the Wheatmen Sam Hogarth performed outstandingly and was awarded the Vince Bermingham Cup for Player of the Final after leading his team to victory.

Downs Rugby again thanks everyone for attending, sponsors for supporting Rugby on the Downs and each team for tremendous efforts on Grand Final Day. The 2018 season promises to be bigger and better when everybody returns for another chance to take out the Wagners Wellcamp Risdon Cup.

Champions! Dalby go Back to Back in the Risdon Cup. 

FK Gardner & Sons