Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
3 days ago
REDCLIFFE is in the grand final but star playmaker Marty Turner faces a race against the clock to be fit for Saturday's Queensland Wizard Cup decider against Toowoomba at Suncorp Stadium.
The Dolphins went a step further than last season's narrow preliminary final loss to Burleigh when they downed a spirited Easts 30-16 at Dolphin Oval yesterday.
Redcliffe is now seeking to avenge last weekend's nightmare 56-22 loss to the Clydesdales, whose staggering form threatens to turn the final into a one-horse race.
Yesterday's game turned on a magnificent try-saving tackle by Redcliffe fullback Ryan Cullen on Easts No.1 Kevin Stephensen two minutes into the second half.
If Stephensen had scored, Easts would have hit the front, but within six minutes Redcliffe's Nick Emmett had scored his second try and the Dolphins had kicked clear.
Redcliffe may have to tunnel towards an upset victory in the grand final without halfback Turner (hamstring), an absentee yesterday for about 70 minutes.
Turner has been outstanding this season, covering for the unexpected loss of first-choice halfback Shane Perry to the Broncos.
In Turner's absence, Redcliffe's Michael Roberts was superb. Aided by Chris Fox and Danny Green, who was forced into a five-eighth role, Roberts engineered much of Redcliffe's play.
If he was not scurrying from dummy half, he was scheming at first receiver or kicking downfield.
Roberts sparked a wide right-hand shift for Rory Bromley to score, then drove a kick across the field of play to engineer Emmett's initial four-pointer.
Then in the second half Roberts sped out of dummy half to link with Fox, who put Emmett over again.
And an hour into the contest Roberts did it all himself, dummying left and right before plunging through a hole and diving over near the posts to ensure a Redcliffe victory.
It was a classy display from one of the competition's best.
"I enjoy playing a bit of first receiver because I am an old halfback," Roberts told ABC television.
Redcliffe led just 14-12 at halftime after Easts captain Matt Lockyer expertly sent Stephensen over to score five minutes before the break.
REDCLIFFE 30 (Emmett 2, Cullen, Bromley, Fox, Roberts tries; Bourke 3 goals) d EASTS 16 (Neumann, Tyrrell, Stephensen tries; Branighan 2 goals).
This article is courtesy of the Sunday Mail Queensland number one Sunday newspaer