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FOR the second year in succession Toowoomba has exited the Queensland Cup with an extra-time defeat in the first week of finals, sunk 23-22 by the boot of Redcliffe?s Shane Perry.
In an extraordinary start to this year?s post-season, the Clydesdales and Dolphins went seven minutes into sudden death extra-time before Perry struck with a signature drop-goal.
It was almost exactly 12 months from the day that Toowoomba had lost 42-38 to Wynnum in the 2004 finals. On that occasion Wynnum rallied from 38-22 down with 10 minutes on the clock to draw level at full-time and then win on golden point.
Similar to last year, Toowoomba faced Redcliffe in a vulnerable position, with injuries ripping through the club at the wrong time of year. The Clydesdales had also lost their last start 44-0 against North Queensland
Yet from the outset at Dolphin Oval all signs were for an even contest.
Capping a brilliant rookie campaign winger Denan Kemp touched down first for Toowoomba, amid some bone-rattling defence from both sides of the fence.
Redcliffe started with the imposing Matt Mapes at centre instead of Greg Bourke, while the backrows matched up hitters such as Danny Green and Grant Flugge with the likes of Derricke Watkins and Neale Wyatt.
By halftime the visiting Clydesdales had moved ahead 18-12 in a game where referee Rob Alexander generally let the play run free.
The second stanza brought marked a lift in intensity from Redcliffe and consequently the Dolphins fought back to grapple for the lead.
With the minutes ticking down, the effort to shift the ball to the teams? respective danger men was noticeable, however it paid few dividends, thanks to desperation in defence.
Redcliffe?s opportunity to draw level and force extra time came via a contentious penalty for a late charge down. Liam Georgetown potted the gift two points and the Fins then survived an Ian Lacey drop-goal attempt to hang on by their finger nails.
In an exhausting finale, the heat was on both teams in more ways than one and fatigue made for some curious options. Well aware that no team had ever risen from lower than third to make the Queensland Cup grand final, players fought on regardless until Perry?s winning field goal.
Leaving the competition on a heart-breaking note, Toowoomba coach John Dixon expressed that he was both proud and gutted by the result at the same time.
Meanwhile, Anthony Griffin?s Redcliffe troupe lives on to fight another day, set to shape up against Norths in the televised minor semi next Saturday at Bishop Park.
REDCLIFFE 23 (Ryan Cullen, Phil Shilvock, Liam Georgetown, Shane Perry tries; Liam Georgetown 3 goals; Shane Perry field goal) beat TOOWOOMBA 22 (Nick Parfitt, Steve Michaels, Denan Kemp, Derricke Watkins tries; Nick Parfitt 3 goals).
This article is courtesy of the QRL for more Queensland Wizard Cup information visit www.qrl.com.au