Fraser Coast Mariners will be chasing a hat-trick of Rugby Bundaberg Elders Insurance Spring Cup titles when they take on West Barbarians in the grand final at The Waves Sporting Complex tomorrow at 6.30pm, but they will be up against an imposing Barbarians team which has peaked at the right time, will have their home-town behind them and is hungry to break a long premiership drought.
Barbarians hung on to beat Turtles Brothers four tries to three 30-25 in a fierce physical contest in last week’s semi-finals with Tight-head Pop Bruce Ikamanu continuing his stellar form, and Loose-head Prop Aloisia “Dulo” Sebualala, goal kicking Fly-Half Andrew Filo and Second Rower Saul Clough other stand-outs in a robust team performance.
Mariners outclassed a brave Waves Falcons 45-13 with prolific scoring Fly-Half Filipe Koroibola racking up another 20 points with two tries and five conversions.
Mariners lost only one of their eight matches in claiming the minor premiership, being ambushed by Turtles 29-20 on 6th November, but they had to settle for an 18-all draw with Barbarians last time they met on 20th November after West were also very competitive with them in a 15-7 defeat on 16th October.
Barbarians, who have a strong International and Multicultural flavour, wound up second on the ladder after finishing equal on points with Turtles but having a superior nett points differential to them.
But they are unbeaten in five matches since their last loss, at the hands of Turtles 22-17 on 23rd October, accounting for Falcons 29-15, smashing East Bundaberg Pythons 82-10, before their draw with Mariners, then white-washing Turtles 42-0 in the last round, before their semi-final triumph.
Mariners blitzed Turtles 58-17 in last year’s decider, and their coach Trent De Vere has his troops primed in their quest for a three-peat.
First-season Barbarians Coach Gary Maroney is also certain that they can bring home the Spring Cup for the first time, but has warned his players that they will need to play for the full 80 minutes-plus if they are to do it.
“We only played about 30 minutes of good football last week, but we played some terrible football as well, and if we do that again, Mariners will punish us,” Gary said.
Andrew Filo, who captain-coached South Kolan Sharks to an unbeaten Northern Districts Rugby League premiership in August, has also declared that they “can beat Mariners” if they are disciplined and stick to their game plan to the final whistle.
Gates Open at 5:30pm, from when the Bar and BBQ will operate, and all are welcome to attend, but everyone MUST use the Queensland Covid Checkin app on entry.
Searle’s RV Centre Vikings must beat the win-less Betta Heat and substantially boost their Net Run Rate in the last round of the Aussie Bundy Big Bash at Salter Oval tonight to keep their title defence alive and progress to tomorrow night’s final.
They are currently two points behind second placed Headlands Pies, last season’s beaten finalists, but trail them on Net Run Rate by a margin of 0.6989 to -0.9274.
If they cannot achieve both goals, they will meet Heat again in the Play-off for third position tomorrow at 2.30pm.
However if they can force their way into second place, they will line up in the Big Dance against Takalvan’s Taipans at 6.30pm.
Takura owner/trainer David Plummer continued his purple patch of form, taking out a winning treble at this week’s Bundaberg meeting at Thabeban Park.
He was successful with litter sisters Durham, which made it back-to-back wins in the TAB 5th Grade, and Kotiro Koura, which made it three wins and a third from her past four outings in the Endeavour Foundation 5th Grade, and the ultra-consistent Fogelberg, which defeated his litter brother Easy Eddie in a Christmas Cup Heat.
New Moonta trainer Garry Cluse won the two heats of the Bundaberg Maiden 1000 with the improved Tiffany Twisted and former New South Wales chaser and rank-outsider Militant Cloud ($19) respectively.
Just two Local trainers were also among the winners on the program, John White with Bro’s Girl in the East End Hotel Mixed 4th/5th Grade, and David Raines with 80-race veteran Super Normal, which recorded just her seventh victory in the Masters 5th Grade.