Saints out to halt Roma's run
MORE pieces of this season’s Downs Rugby premiership jigsaw fall into place today when minor premiers USQ Saints hosts the second week of Super Saturday finals matches at USQ Oval.
Eight games will be played on two grounds today, starting with a showpiece under 19 major semi-final between USQ and Toowoomba Rangers at 10am.
The A Grade action is headed by USQ and Roma who meet at 2.30pm with the winner progressing to this year’s grand final.
The loser will host next week’s preliminary final where it will meet the victor of today’s knock-out semi-final featuring Toowoomba Rangers and defending premiers Toowoomba Bears from 4pm.
While Rangers and Bears scrap for survival the USQ and Roma clash offers the winner hosting rights to the September 3 grand final day.
USQ have been the season front-runners, dropping only one match (to Roma) during their premiership march.
But Roma has now strung together 13 consecutive wins including a comprehensive 25-7 semi-final effort over Rangers at home last week.
The Echidnas impressive end-of-season run has won them a growing band of premiership admirers.
But it hasn’t swayed the thoughts of Goondiwindi coach Trent Raymond who is prepared to predict a USQ grand final victory three matches out from the decider.
Raymond saw his team bow out of the finals race at Roma last Saturday following a 34-12 defeat at the hands Bears.
“I think they’ll finish the season in the same order as they did on the ladder,” Raymond said.
“Uni still looks the team to beat to me.
“They are only a young side, but the nucleus of their team has been together for three years now.
“It must be a coach’s dream to keep players together for that time and I think that will really count in their favour over the next few weeks.
“I think Rangers will bounce back and knock Bears out this week.
“Roma gave them a bit of a touch up last week but they had a couple of key players out and they can turn things around if they are at full strength on Saturday.
“But I’d expect Roma to beat them again at Roma next week to set up a Uni-Roma grand final.”