Almanac Rugby League – QCup Grand Final: Redcliffe Dolphins v Easts Tigers – a preview

 

The Queensland Cup dates from 1996 and is the highest level of competition in the Queensland Rugby League. Along with the equivalent New South Wales Cup, it forms the second tier of rugby league club competition below only the National Rugby League. So these are pretty serious competitions. They reach their season climax this weekend with their respective Grand Finals. The winners will then meet as a curtain-raiser on NRL Grand Final Day, September 30.  In the QCup (or Intrust Super Cup) decider, the minor premiers, the Redcliffe Dolphins, will take on the Easts Tigers at Brisbane’s Lang Park (Suncorp Stadium) this Sunday at 3.05pm. It promises to be a cracker!

 

But more on that later. These two clubs have a bit of history over the past 40 years. Back in 1977 in the days of the old Brisbane Rugby League competition, Redcliffe were minor premiers and won both regular season encounters with Easts before the Tigers turned the table in the Grand Final to win by 17-13. A year later they clashed in an explosive major semi-final where the Tigers triumphed again before going on to win the title in consecutive years. Five years later, they were at it again. Finishing first and second on the ladder, Easts won their major semi-final 11-5 before repeating the result in the Grand Final a fortnight later in a 14-6 victory. Before the demise of the BRL in 1997, Easts went on to win the premiership again in 1991 but suffered Grand Final defeat four times in the following six years. They haven’t won a title since! Meanwhile, Redcliffe tasted victory in 1994 (their first in 29 years), 1996 and 1997.

 

Both teams featured strong squads in the 1990s and their clashes in 1997 were particularly epic. In a year of overlapping competitions, the BRL and the Queensland Cup, Easts won both regular season matches between the two but the Dolphins had the better of their finals clash to head to the Grand Final of both competitions before Easts won the right to contest both finals which were played a fortnight apart. In the QCup clash, a very spirited affair, Easts jumped to an early 12-0 lead before Redcliffe clawed one back by the break. In the second half, Easts got out to 16-6; Redcliffe got it back to 16-12 with less than ten minutes on the clock; three minutes from time, Easts Scott Sipple was held up over the line by Redcliffe’s fullback, Adam Mogg. (These two are the opposing coaches this weekend!) In the last minute of play, Redcliffe launched one final attack to the left on the last tackle where a Tony Gould cut-out pass found James Hinchey who scored despite scrambling defence: 16-16 with the kick to come from out wide. Anthony Singleton had already knocked over one from the sideline earlier in the half. This time, reading the steady southerly breeze to perfection, Singo started the ball out wide of the right post, allowing the breeze to bring it around in a perfect arc and over the black dot. Easts had led throughout, only to be pipped after the bell! (I can still see that conversion in my mind’s eye today, twenty-one years later. A mathematician could not have drawn a more perfect parabola of the ball’s flight. I wonder what it’s equation might have been.) The result clearly deflated the Tigers who succumbed uncharacteristically in the Brisbane XXXX Cup decider two weeks later to the tune of 35-6, their noses rubbed in the dirt by a very late field goal to the retiring Redcliffe veteran Ian ‘Iggy’ Graham.

 

In the QCup era, the clubs have had contrasting fortunes. Easts have lost all four Grand Finals they have contested, most recently in 2013 and 2014. Their 2004 loss to Burleigh Bears has to be mentioned. Easts trailed for most of the match, only to equalise right on the buzzer. It took 17 minutes of golden point extra time before Burleigh finally broke the deadlock, ending possibly the longest game of rugby league ever, certainly in living memory. What a heartbreaker! By contrast, Redcliffe have won the QCup five times (the most by any club at this point) but not since 2006. They have lost three deciders since then, most recently in 2016.

 

Now, here they are again, the Redcliffe Dolphins v Easts Tigers for the 2018 QCup Grand Final. Both sides go into the Grand Final basically unchanged from their last appearance. Easts breathed a sigh of relief this week when Billy Walters escaped suspension after being cited for a dangerous throw last weekend. It seems to me to be a pretty fair outcome. Tigers No. 9 Tommy Butterfield lines up against his old club where he was very popular with players and fans alike. Melbourne Storm’s Sam Kasiano has also been named on the Easts bench from where he made quite an impact in the Preliminary Final. Redcliffe’s line-up has been quite settled in recent matches, so no surprises there.

 

We could go into the usual lines of, “The Dolphins have only played once in a month, will they run out of puff?” or, “Redcliffe has had the week off and will be fully fit and raring to go”. Alternatively, from an Easts perspective, we could trot out, “The Tigers have all the momentum after three great finals on the trot, they’ll be hard to beat” or, “After three testing knockout finals in a row, can Easts get up again, surely they must have spent too much fuel just to get here”. To which I say, “What a load of crap!” You’re in the Grand Final; not everyone gets that opportunity as a player; what happened last week counts for nothing once the whistle blows; you just go out there and give it everything you possibly can on the day; the best team on the day wins.

 

Both teams are overdue for a title. Easts go back 27 years to their last win with over half a dozen Grand Final losses since then. The Dolphins, after a golden period in the 1990s and 2000s, last won in 2006 so, by their standards, it’s been a long time between drinks. Both teams are in good form. Easts are riding a finals wave with three good wins, 32-0 over the Northern Pride, 50-20 over the Ipswich Jets and 36-26 over the Burleigh Bears. (As mentioned elsewhere, this last result represented a 40-point turnaround from just three weeks earlier when the same two teams met in Round 24.) Redcliffe won their last three regular season matches and, in their only finals match, accounted for the Burleigh Bears 13-6. Both teams are strongly supported. So expect a big, vocal crowd to roll up on Sunday. The match will be telecast live on Channel 9.

 

My prediction? My heart is very much with Redcliffe, as it has been for over 50 years. My head says that it’s anyone’s game – Easts are on a roll and very hungry but the Dolphins have done everything expected of them. In the event of a draw at the end of regulation time, the teams play extra time under golden point conditions. If there’s no score after five minutes, the teams change ends and continue to play until such time as there is a score which determines the winner.

 

Go Dolphins!

 

In preparing this article, I am indebted to Damian Roache (rugby league tragic and Almanac international correspondent), Bob Jones (Chairman of the Dolphins and local legend) and Liam Hauser (rugby league historian and author) for providing statistical and other background information.

 

Finally, for your enjoyment, two short videos of the respective club songs of the Dolphins and the Tigers. I’m not sure of the date of these but they make for ‘interesting’ historical viewing. (Somewhere out there I can hear William McGuinness and Rupert McCall, Redcliffe boys to their bootstraps, striking up a boisterous, if not necessarily tuneful, rendition of the Redcliffe song.)

 

 

 

Ian Hauser’s family used to barrack for Redcliffe way back in the 1960s. They hated Brothers! These days, in his (questionable) maturity, he’s happy to read and write about all of them. He also edits the work of other writers – you can check out his editing services here.

 

About Ian Hauser

A happy, Noosa-based retiree with a (very) modest sporting CV. A Queenslander through and through, especially when it comes to cricket and rugby league. I appreciate those beautiful moments in sport (and life) that capture the spirit rather than the law of the game. I enjoy travel, good coffee and cake, reading, and have been known to appreciate a glass or three of wine. I offer a comprehensive editing service for both new and experienced writers. Check me out at www.writerightediting.com.au Queenslander!

Comments

  1. Well done Ian, I’m already having trouble sleeping right through, way too excited, your article has only added to that over excitement.
    Cheers
    Bob Jones

  2. My statistical advisor, Liam, reminded me today that there was a rugby league match longer than the 2004 Queensland Cup Final. The Super League competition in 1997 featured a tri-series played between Queensland, New South Wales and New Zealand. Queensland and NSW met in the final, won eventually by NSW 23-22. Scores were tied on 16-16 at the end of regulation time. The playing conditions of the tri-series required that a further period of 10 minutes each way be played in full. At the end of that time, the score was 22-22. Only then did the game revert to golden point conditions with Noel Goldthorpe kicking a field goal in the 4th minute of extra time. So the game lasted 104 minutes compared to the 97 minutes in 2004, albeit under different playing conditions. At 22-22 after 100 minutes of play and with the scores still tied, ‘Alfie’ Langer is reputed to have asked the referee if they should just have a toss of the coin to see who would win – always one for the punt was Alf!

  3. In that 2004 GF, what made it worse for Easts was that they had a couple oof reasonably handy players in their team called Darren Smith and Steve Renouf. Neither would make it to the finish (Smith ggot KOed, the Pearl did a shoulder).

    Depending on how I’m feeling I may have a look as I’m in Brisbane this weekend.

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