2005 GRAND FINAL PREVIEW: Wests Tigers vs. North Queensland Cowboys
REDCLIFFE Dolphins coach Anthony Griffin thought he knew all about the anguish of coaching after his first Queensland Cup match in charge.
He had watched his new charges go down to a 60-point drubbing at the hands of Norths, his former employer.
But, according to Griffin, that was nothing compared with the tidal wave of emotions during the club's final two matches of the season.
After eliminating the Toowoomba Clydesdales 23-22 in week one of the semi-finals at Dolphin Oval, Griffin's men ran up against Norths in an elimination minor semi-final at Bishop Park.
The Devils had been favourites to take out the titles only a few weeks before, but the Dolphins dispelled any notions of that with a 33-10 thumping.
Then it was down to ominous task of fronting up to premiers Burleigh Heads at Pizzey Park in the preliminary final.
That Redcliffe got within a try of the premiers speaks volumes for the quality of the Redcliffe squad.
"I was shattered for my players," Griffin said. "As bad as it was for all the coaching and club staff, it was one hundred times worse for the players.
"I know how much it took out of them physically and the number of them that were playing with injuries.
"To be 18-6 behind to Burleigh at their home ground and come back and lead with three minutes was a great effort. I've never experienced anything like that finish before.
"At the start of the season I had no preconceived idea of what we wanted to achieve. All we were concentrating on was the work that was needed to help improve the place.
"But after the black opening day when he lost both the Colts and State League by 60 points, everyone responded and learned from their mistakes."
He said the Bears were still the benchmark of the Queensland Cup, and if his side had got through against them, he was confident they could go on and claim another Cup victory.
But the Dolphins are not resting on their laurels of third after missing out on the semi-finals last season.
The club is confident Griffin will re-sign for next season, along with virtually all of this season's squad. Missing will be Penrith-bound pair Liam Georgetown and Wayne Bond.
"It's a pity that we won't get to see those pair play for Redcliffe again as they have their best footy in front of them," he said.
Also back will be veteran forward Troy Lindsay, who during the finals again led by example.
"Troy tore his calf muscle at training on the Wednesday before the Burleigh match and needed pain killers in his calf to play," Griffin said.
"The physios said most players would have needed 10 days off, but that is the sort of player he is."
Griffin praised the standard of the Queensland Cup, saying the presence of the three NRL offshoots (Toowoomba, Norths and Young Guns) in the semis was a testament of how seriously they took the format and the improved depth of their squads.
"A number of their players are fulltime and so you have to be continually trying to improve to stay with the standard," he said.
"The good thing for us was that we learned from the tough patches during the year and everyone improved.
"I thought after our loss at home to Burleigh that we hit our straps and our form going into the finals was really good."
FRIDAY wrapped up with both the Wests Tigers and North Queensland Cowboys going into lockdown mode with only two sleeps until the big game.
Pat Richards remains in serious doubt due to damaged ankle ligaments, while Travis Norton appears to be ready to go after overcoming a back ailment. At this stage Norton will definitely play but Richards would still only be a 50/50 chance at best.
Wide ranging speculation over who will replace Richards has yet to turn up a solid prediction, so expect Richards to play if you?re betting on the match.
NEW Zealand international Sione Faumuina is poised to return for Hull?s make-or-break clash with Bradford Buls at Odsal on Saturday.
THE Widnes Vikings have not ruled out legal action to ensure they are not relegated from Superleague next season. In an eventful month for the club Widnes officials have doggedly argued that they are not without hope of staying in the top flight, while attempts had been made to prop up a National League One club to improve their chances of a reprieve.
LEEDS Trinity & All Saints RLFC will be celebrating its 10th anniversary in Student Rugby League when the club stages its annual Old Boys game on Sunday 9 October.
SUPER League champions Leeds Rhinos will be without centre Keith Senior for their qualifying semi-final at St Helens on Friday Sept 30.
PAT Richards has been cleared to play in tomorrow's NRL grand final against North Queensland, giving the Wests Tigers a huge boost on the eve of the decider.
A fitness test this morning will determine the grand final fate of giant Wests Tigers winger Pat Richards, with young flyer Shannon McDonnell poised to rekindle memories of another Tim Sheens selection stunt on the eve of the grand final.
JUST over three and a half years ago Tim Sheens was sacked by the North Queensland Cowboys, who believed his time as a coach in the NRL had come to an end.
BEING stripped of the captaincy is often a sign of the beginning of the end for a rugby league player.
IRELAND will take another step in their preparation for the 2008 Rugby League World Cup, when the Wolfhounds take on Wales in Dublin, for the final group game of the European Nations Cup. The game takes place on Saturday, 29 October 2005, at Terenure College RFC, kicking off at 2:30 p.m.
BOTH the New Zealand Residents and the New Zealand 16?s played against New South Wales Country today (Saturday 1 October 2005) at Wins Stadium in Wollongong in front of a great crowd.
CENTRAL Queensland is once again gearing up for great rugby league action with the Rockhampton Leagues Club Central Queensland Comets preparing themselves to hog tie their big brothers from the north, the North Queensland Cowboys.
NORTH Queensland Cowboys Scholarship holder David Taylor led his team to a come from behind 30-26 victory over Central Highlands in an under 19s curtain raiser at Browne Park on Saturday, February 5.