Heartbreak for Gremlins after try at the death
RUGBY LEAGUE: The Toowoomba Rugby League qualifying semi-final between the Stanthorpe Gremlins and the Gatton Hawks was all that a finals' series feature match should be, and a little more.
Alas that 'little more' came in the form of a last minute try to the Hawks, denying the courageous Stanthorpe outfit 14-16 and the opportunity to advance to next week's major semi-final to contest a grand final berth.
While the result disappointed team captain Gary Skimmings, the Gremlins were impressive across the Clive Berghofer Stadium, their solid defence a feature of the game.
Skimmings led his side more than capably, his younger brigade unfazed by the big match atmosphere of the business end of the TRL's Centenary season.
Front-rower Nic Marsh set the example as the bearded bookend took the Gremlins pack forward, a more than demanding challenge given the Hawks' obvious size advantage.
Back-rower Nate Stibbard also threw down the gauntlet to his opponents with regularity.
With just 30 seconds to go on the match clock, Stanthorpe had a deserved grasp on the hotly contested contest, leading 14-12.
With Granite Belt supporters thinking their Gremlins had the job in hand, a Hawks gold and black jersey loomed on the short side in the form of fullback Ben Sadler as a result of a vital scrum win, winning the race to the try line and stealing the match winning four-pointer.
It was Sadler's fourth try of the 2019 season, but his most memorable touchdown according to his ecstatic team mates.
The try that denied a Gremlins' victory has booked the Hawks a berth in next week's qualifier against minor premiers the Newtown Lions.
Hawks playmaker William Sadler registered first points on the scoreboard with a try in the sixth minute, but 17-year-old machine fullback Jacob Rashleigh kept the Gremlins in step when he scored to have his side trailing 6-4.
When five-eight Jarrod Irwin found an avenue to the line midway through the first half the Gremlins eased to a 10-6 advantage and developed a spring in their step.
Both sides slugged it out before arriving at half time with Stanthorpe holding their 10-6 lead and just another 30 minutes of footy ahead until full time.
It was a big day out for Hawks hero Ben Sadler, pocketing two tries and two goals, the Gatton last line crossing for his first touchdown in the ninth minute of the new stanza allowing his Hawks a 12-10 lead.
Halfback Jake Burnell was on target with two second half penalty goals that ushered the Gremlins to a slim 14-12 lead with ten minutes remaining.
Life appeared good for the lads from the Granite Belt until that man Sadler emerged to rain on their party with the full time siren seconds from wailing.
The curtain fell on the Texas Terriers season in Saturday's elimination semi-final, well beaten by the Goondiwindi Boars 52-22.
Boars now stand in Gremlins way
THE hype and excitement is building on the Granite Belt as the Stanthorpe Gremlins head to a final training session this evening in preparation for Saturday's elimination semi-final bout with the Goondiwindi Boars.
The Gremlins are contesting their second successive 2nd Division finals series and are feeling confident they can go a step ahead of last year's effort by finishing ahead of the Boars.
Memories run deep for the Gremlins of being denied 28-24 in the 2018 elimination semi-final with a try in the final minutes by opponents the Pittsworth Danes ending their season.
They have recent form on the board against the Boars after dispatching them 38-20 at Goondiwindi in the final fixture match of the season.
Coach 'Megsy' Irwin his hoping for a repeat performance at Toowoomba's Gold Park on Saturday to hoist his Gremlins to the preliminary final for a crack at a grand final berth.
Kick off is from 3.30pm.
The Stanthorpe Gremlins side to meet Goondiwindi: 1. Jacob Rashleigh, 2. Sam Miles, 3. Josh Wren, 4. Lachlan Hendry, 5. Chris Reid, 6. Jarrod Irwin, 7. Jake Burnell, 8. Nigel Bonetto, 9. Michael Marini, 10. Nicolas Marsh, 11. Nathan Stibbard, 12. Zachary Hendry, 13. Gary Skimmings, 14. Jon Warr, 15. Tom Bonner, 16. Will McPaul, 17. Riley Taylor , 18. Jacob Adams, 19. Aaron Abraham, 20. Zac Wilmot, 21. Steven Foster. Coach: 'Megsy' Irwin. Manager: Trevor Baker.