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SEVENTEEN Toowoomba players will contest their first ever Queensland Wizard Cup grand final, after the youthful Clydesdales trampled Redcliffe 56-22 in Saturday?s major semi at Clive Berghofer Stadium.
Earning direct passage to the State League decider on September 16, the Clydesdales bolted to a remarkable 56-4 lead midway through the second half.
Shell-shocked Redcliffe then scored the final three tries of the match to regain a sense of credibility ahead of next week?s do-or-die preliminary final against the Easts Tigers.
The match will be held Saturday at Dolphin Oval at 2pm.
If nothing else, the Dolphins can take solace from an encouraging precedent. In season 2000 they were hammered 46-12 by Toowoomba in a major semi final, yet recovered to win the grand final 14-6 a fortnight later against the Clydesdales.
Even still, the betting money for this year?s premiership is sure to sit with the rampant Clydesdales, who were simply too skilful and enthusiastic in a clash that was expected to be evenly-matched.
At halftime Toowoomba led comfortably at 22-4. However it was a deluge of six tries in 18 minutes after the break which blew the margin out to epic proportions.
Three of the six tries directly after the break were scored by centre Jamie Simpson, the teenager who has battled cancer to become one of the Brisbane Broncos most exciting prospects.
Smiling ear-to-ear, Simpson had barely enough time to return from the kick-off after his 42nd minute try before scoring again in the 44th minute. At the 56-minute mark a long cut-out by half Ben Green sent him on a determined 50m run to the line to complete the treble.
The Central Queensland product was still in Grade 10 the last time Toowoomba won a grand final in 2001 ? also against Redcliffe. In fact, the majority of the Clydesdales squad was nose-down in study books at the same point in time.
Prop David Taylor, of course, still is. The boy being groomed as Shane Webcke?s replacement will again have to request a few days? absence from St Brendan?s College to prepare for the grand final.
The ?green-ness? of Toowoomba?s side is not restricted to the paddock. Coach Mark Gee and chief executive Kyle Warren are both in their first year at the helm.
Somewhat fittingly, Warren was a hero of the club?s inaugural Queensland Wizard Cup premiership back in 1996.
In injury concerns arising from the major semi, both hookers John Te Reo (Toowoomba) and Michael Roberts (Redcliffe) retired early from the match, while Dolphins prop Adam Starr appeared in pain late in the game.
Boom Kiwi utility Greg Eastwood suffered a facial cut in an awkward tackle but retook the field after a quick patch-up on the sideline.
Redcliffe?s Shannon Fish has been placed on report for a dangerous throw on Toowoomba?s Denan Kemp.
TOOWOOMBA 56 (Jamie Simpson 3, Joel Moon 2, Nick Parfitt 2, Steve Michaels, Chris Muckert, Denan Kemp tries; Nick Parfitt 8 goals) d REDCLIFFE 22 (Grant Flugge, Adam Starr, Marty Turner, Shannon Fish tries; Greg Bourke 3 goals) at Clive Berghofer Stadium.
PRELIMINARY finals scheduling for Saturday September 9 at Dolphin Oval, Redcliffe:
10.30AM - Redcliffe v Wynnum Manly - FOGS Colts Challenge
12.05PM - Tweed Heads v Souths Logan - FOGS Cup
2.00PM - Redcliffe v Easts - QLD Wizard Cup