FIRE DOUSED | After returning to finals action in 2015, the St George-Illawarra Dragons struggled un...
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THE Dolphins' A grade brave bid to keep the flag flying bit the dust at the last hurdle.
Rob "Bertie" Campbell's side bowed out in the preliminary final after just squeezing into the semi-finals and then tipping out Norths 22-18 in the elimination semi.
But the Dolphins ran into a red-hot Easts outfit in the preliminary final.
Centre Joel Barnes starred against Norths, scoring a try, setting up another for winger Liam Georgetown, chasing hard in defence and making inroads most times he touched the ball.
"Things just didn't go our way against Easts," Campbell, who won a Queensland Cup with the Dolphins as a player said. "All the injuries caught up with us and they were way too good for us. "I think Easts have been the benchmark all year and I was surprised when they were beaten in the major semi. "I'm really proud of my blokes and I think we have blooded some good kids in Wayne Bond, Joel Barnes, Maddison Murphy, Quin Smith, Nathan Black and Mark Brown."
Campbell, who has not been re-appointed for next season, thanked the Redcliffe club for the coaching opportunity.
"If you would have said to me at the start that my sides would finish up in a grand final in my first year, premiers in the second and in the preliminary final the third then I would have taken it," he said.
"The club has been good to me and I appreciate getting a start here. I've got various opportunities to go to other clubs, but it's been a tough year."
He said the birth of his son in January stretched his time and he would not have coached if he realised the demand it put on his family. "My wife Lauren really deserves a wrap," he said. "I'd also like to thank my managers and support staff, who are the backbone of the club. "I took over an older side with Rod Carsburg and Darren Smallhorne in it and it has evolved into a much younger combination and we were not even expected to make the semis."
"We also lost Luke Bishop halfway through the year when he retired and had been showing such great form that he had been promoted back to Premier Grade for the first time since 1998," he said.