Devils advance to final
RUGBY LEAGUE: The Gympie Devils grabbed their second chance to beat the Beerwah Bulldogs on Saturday, earning their place in the grand final in a nail-biting 22-20 win.
Devils hooker Ben Harney said the division two side were able to come through because they hung in there and did not give up for the full 80 minutes.
The Devils had a decent 16-4 lead by half-time but in the first 20 minutes of the second half, Beerwah got past the Gympie defence to score two consecutive tries.
The Devils replied with another try but then the Bulldogs scored again with just five minutes left on the clock. The conversion would have levelled the score but it wasn't to be.
The Devils defence held and with just the two points between them, Beerwah made errors in the final minutes and the game was sealed in the Devils' favour.
Josh Cumner, filling in for Nick Wheeler, played well at lock; likewise Ben Santowski on the wing.
The forward pack put plenty of pressure on the opposition, pushing play forward at every opportunity.
"It was our best team game we've played all year," Harney said. "It was a good team effort winning such an important game."
When the teams met earlier this year, the Devils won by just four points.
"We knew it would be a tough game.
"We were the undefeated team - we had everything to lose and they had everything to gain."
The minor premiers had a strong team at the weekend but expect all players to return for the grand final.
With 24 players ready to take the field but only 18 spots to fill, key players, including Wheeler, Jaime Whyte, Dean Bull and Max Carlton, will be vying to win back their positions.
The game against Beerwah has helped them prepare for their match against the the Caboolture Snakes at Sunshine Coast Stadium on Saturday.
Although Gympie defeated the Snakes in their first round game, it was a different team which went head to head with them in the first semi-final, where they lost the chance to go straight through to the grand final.
That division two side was depleted of players and despite some returning, the Snakes will have the advantage after having a week off.
"But we believe in ourselves," Harney said.
"We're even - they have beat us and we have beat them - we are all square."
Like the usual saying, "defence wins games" and that will be the focus for the Devils at training this week, and they will be looking at trying to match Caboolture's strength up front.
"We will play to our strengths and to their weaknesses."