Its Finals Time In Queensland

REDCLIFFE are at home and they have teams in all three grand finals today but they probably start underdogs in the three matches, although the Queensland Cup clash is an even money bet in the eyes of many rugby league supporters. Minor premiers, Burleigh Bears beat Redcliffe 26-24 in the major semi-final a fortnight ago but Redcliffe were without star playmaker, Michael Roberts who returned from a broken hand against Wynnum Seagulls in last Saturday?s preliminary final and scored two tries. In the major semi-final Burleigh had the backing of a huge home crowd ? the club?s biggest gate of the season. Today the boot will be on the other foot with a big percentage of the bayside city rolling up for this clash at Dolphin Oval. In round three Redcliffe beat Burleigh 22-18 at Pizzey Park but in the return clash in round 13 the honours went to Burleigh 34-28 at Dolphin Oval. Redcliffe have won the Queensland Cup three times ? in 1997, 2000 and 2002 while Burleigh?s only success came in 1999 against Redcliffe at Suncorp Stadium in a memorable and emotional clash. Rick Stone was Burleigh?s coach on that occasion and he is still at the helm while Redcliffe?s Neil Wharton is in his fourth season in charge with two premierships under his belt. Grand final day begins with the Mixwell Colts Challenge clash between minor premiers, Norths and Redcliffe with the Devils side containing a number of players from Secondary School Arrive Alive State champions, Wavell High. Strongly linked with NRL club, Melbourne Storm, Norths have a talented line-up under the coaching of Devils stalwart, Kevin Carmichael. Redcliffe, coached by Grant Cleal, got out of jail against Burleigh last week winning in the last 60 seconds, but that is proof these boys have plenty of character. The second match on the card is the A grade Mixwell Cup fixture between Wynnum and Redcliffe, with Redcliffe needing a huge turn around in form to have any chance of a win after Wynnum thrashed them 38-0 in the major semi-final. But under inspirational coach, Rob ?Bertie? Campbell the Dolphins believe they can cause an upset. Equally determined to bring a title to Brisbane?s southern bayside is Wynnum coach, Mark Gliddon and his men. Gliddon, a former Wynnum player, has done an excellent job since rejoining the club after a coaching stint at Sunnybank. In addition to premiership glory there is a trip to Perth at stake for players in the Queensland Cup grand final with a Queensland Maroons side to be named tomorrow to play Western Australia next Friday night. The Maroons will be coached by Redcliffe?s Neil Wharton and they will leave for Perth on Wednesday getting to the Western Australian capital in time to attend the Perth Best and Fairest awards that night. The grand final lunch held in conjunction with today?s matches will be highlighted by the presentation of the Sunstate Airlines Queensland Cup Player of the Year Award (see story page?.). Also at the lunch Life Membership will be bestowed on Ted Verrenkamp, a league legend who excelled as a player, coach and administrator, in Australia and England. In late September and throughout October the Queensland Cup clubs will hold their trophy nights with Easts and Wynnum kicking things off next Saturday night. In Townsville next Saturday night the grand final of the Foley Shield will be played between Townsville and Cairns.