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MONTHS ago fans dreamed about the possibility. It now appears a near certainty that North Queensland and Toowoomba?s final round clash will decide the 2006 Wizard Cup minor premier.
One of the biggest pieces of the equation fell into place at Dairy Farmers Stadium on Saturday night, when the Young Guns defeated Redcliffe 30-12 in an impressive display. The result means the Dolphins can now finish no higher than second this season.
Provided that Toowoomba does not lose next week to Souths Logan, it also means the Clydesdales travel to Townsville on August 19 in a winner-take-all clash against North Queensland?s finest.
?That?s the way we thought it would end up. It will come down to the last game,? Young Guns coach Mick Crawley said.
?It?s not a bad way to do it either?for it to be decided face-to-face. It?ll be a big game.?
Aside from a slight injury concern for Queensland Residents representative Shane Muspratt (cork), the signs are overwhelmingly positive for the Young Guns.
Their effort against Redcliffe was first rate, despite the Dolphins playing reasonably well themselves.
North Queensland?s lead at halftime was 16-6, a replica of the previous week?s halftime advantage against Burleigh. One senses Crawley would have enforced how important it was that his charges not take the foot off the pedal for the second week in a row.
Among those to stand tallest were teenagers Obe Geia and Scott Bolton, with schoolboy Geia scoring two tries after being included as a late replacement for Brenton Bowen.
?When you call a kid in and they score a double, those are the sort of things that auger well for a club?s future,? said Crawley, having witnessed the Cowboys first grade side being hammered 54-14 by the Bulldogs.
?And Scotty Bolton, he?s been improving fairly steadily of late. He?s a Queensland Under 19s representative this year, but sometimes you forget how young he is.
?I expect a lot from Scotty, because the way I see him, he?s an NRL player in the making. It?s only a matter of time. Physically, he would have no trouble handling it.?
Aside from the two youngsters, it was again Ray Cashmere leading the way up front, the 26-year-old showing he wouldn?t be intimidated by Redcliffe?s experienced and hard-nosed pack.
While fans begin salivating and anticipating the Round 22 showdown between the Young Guns and Clydesdales, there is still Round 21 to take care of in the meantime.
North Queensland faces Wynnum Manly in a dangerous prospect at BMD Kougari Oval next Sunday, 3pm. A loss would put the Guns on the back foot for top spot going into the finals.
Redcliffe plays Tweed Heads at Dolphin Oval next Saturday at 2pm in the ABC televised match.
NORTH QUEENSLAND 30 (Obe Geia 2, Jamie Frizzo, Clint Amos, Brett Firman, Rod Jensen tries; Neil Sweeney 3 goals) d REDCLIFFE 12 (Michael Roberts, Gerard Parle tries; Greg Bourke 2 goals) at Dairy Farmers Stadium..