University of Queensland have earned themselves a spot in the 2019 Hospital Challenge Cup Grand Final, knocking off reigning premiers GPS 34-14 in today’s preliminary final at Ballymore.
After a low-scoring first half, the Students laid on 26 unanswered points in the second-half to claim their fourth-straight Grand Final berth.
“We’re very happy with that, it was a tough game out there against GPS which we knew it would be,” UQ fullback Jock Campbell said.
“With the windy conditions, it was a bit of a different game, but I think our defence really spoke for our team’s character and really won us the game.
“We had a tough start to the season, but all of us knew we could do it. It was just about getting the right attitude and the right combinations.
“It gives us a little bit of confidence, but you can’t take anything for granted in finals, it’s an individual game and we had that mentality out their today.”
The Gallopers were first on the scoreboard with a try from Matt Gicquel in the 15th minute, who found the line off the back of a Bryce Hegarty inside ball.
UQ responded in the 19th minute through Clifton Setu, who crossed after Tate McDermott broke through the defence, running near the length of the field from a show-and-go effort to put the winger over.
Both sides remained solid in defence for the remainder of the first half, before James Dalgleish kicked the Students into an 8-7 lead with a penalty goal in the 39th minute.
Jeeps took the lead momentarily in the opening minutes of the second-stanza through a Bernard Nickel try, but the Students responded with a five-pointer of their own just minutes later, with Kye Oates the benefactor of a Dagleish grubber.
Dalgleish was shown a yellow-card in the 60th minute for a dangerous tackle, and was soon joined by Jeeps’ prop Emosi Tuqiri and halfback Nigel Genia in the sin-bin.
Having lost three props – Jethro Felimi, Ruan Smith and Jonah Pologa – all to injury by this point, with Tuqiri in the bin GPS were forced to go uncontested at the scrum which meant they had to drop a further player – Troy Simkin – and play with 12 on the field.
GPS were unable to hold off the surging UQ attack and it wasn’t long before the Students were over for their third try, with James Wood carrying four Jeeps defenders over the line.
Momentum on their side, Uni punished the Gallopers’ defence, dominating possession and scoring twice in the final ten minutes to stretch their lead to 20-points.
Setu scored his second try of the day in 72nd minute, finding himself in space down the right touchline off a Campbell flick-pass, while Alex Horan iced the game in the 79th minute.
UQ will face minor premiers Brothers in the Hospital Challenge Cup Grand Final next Sunday at 3:05PM at Ballymore Stadium.