The Redcliffe Dolphins have taken out the QRL premiership for the second year in a row, with a seemingly comfortable 31-18 victory over minor premiers Burleigh. After an extremely shaky start, the Dolphins managed to perform brilliantly at their home park, in what was an extremely successful and happy day for their fans.
With a turnout and atmosphere that would make most NRL clubs cry with jealousy, I had a feeling this would be a day that belonged to Redcliffe, who had a side in all three grand finals taking place. By the time I arrived at midday, the western side of the field was already packed full of red-and-white supporters. It was also obvious that the beer had been flowing for many hours in anticipation for the game. As time crept by and Redcliffe added another couple of trophies to it?s cabinet thanks to the lower grades, nerves and excitement rippled through the stadium, until the big one: The 2003 QRL Grand Final kick off.
Burleigh centre Reggie Cressbrook left the crowd gobsmacked, with a poetic intercept try in just the 14th second of the game. After converting his own try, some heads on the field and in the crowd began to drop. They needn?t have worried. For the 15 minutes following, the Dolphins aimed up to match the Bears in defence and attack and showed the crowd exactly why they were the two teams left in the competition. Speedy Redcliffe winger Aaron Barba crossed in the 18th minute, with McKay?s conversion locking the scores. This was seemingly a turning point in the match, as the Dolphins began to lift even more. Barba carried the teams attacking flair, with amazing tries in the 27th and 40th minutes capping off an impressive first half hat-trick. As the half-time hooter sounded, the predominantly red-and-white crowd rose to it?s feet to clap the boys off, with Redcliffe leading 20-6.
The second half didn?t bring many new surprises, with Burleigh continuing their poor form with silly errors and penalties. Seemingly unable to string a set of six together, they were punished again in the 49th minute, as Dolphin?s centre Brian Jellick crossed for a 4 pointer. With the scores at 26-6, it looked all but over for the ?visiting? side. However, a spark seemed to flare from somewhere inside the Bears, as two quick tries were scored in the 63rd and 69th minute. With 10 minutes remaining, and the scores only at 26-18, there was a new found hope for some supporters in the crowd.
Ben Jones assured that it wouldn?t be that way. The big second rower for Redcliffe ended Burleigh?s dreams, as he crossed for a try in the 72nd minute. With scores at 30-18 and victory already assured, Dolphin?s 5/8 Shane Perry potted a simple field goal with three minutes remaining. As the referee?s hand was raised, and the score changed to 31-18, the crowd of over 10,000 went into raptures.
This capped off an extraordinarily successful day for the Dolphins, who won all three Grand Finals contested at Dolphin Park. In Colts, the Redcliffe side edged out Norths 24-20, and in A Grade they beat Wynnum 19-6. This is truly an amazing effort from the bayside club, who fully deserve the accolades at all levels for their successful premiership campaigns. Burleigh were an extremely strong side consistently throughout 2003, however were simply outclassed and overcome by a side who came in with more determination on the day.