Will Jackson scores Bears in the Risdon Cup grand final.
Will Jackson scores Bears in the Risdon Cup grand final.

The Chronicle Top 5 rugby moments

RUGBY: Darling Downs rugby weathered the COVID-19 storm considerably well.

A clear and direct plan from Queensland Rugby allowed its member associations, like Downs Rugby, to establish plans that would ultimately lead to successful seasons.

Despite the lengthy delays bought about by COVID-19 restrictions, the Risdon and Emilee Cherry Cups were among the best in recent memory.

Boosted by new players who settled down in the region and the addition of some rugby league converts, the quality of play across senior levels was exciting.

There were also some major milestones off the field as well.

Here’s our top five rugby moments of 2020.

5. The plan

Queensland Rugby’s proactive and decisive approach to the COVID-19 pandemic was the key to community rugby’s return and success this year.

The governing body’s simple but effective “traffic light” system provided associations, clubs, players and officials with a clear idea of what they could and could not do during lockdown and the subsequent return to action.

Downs Rugby ensured its members stuck to the system which in turn helped facilitate a smooth return to action and highly successful seasons at all levels of the game.

4. Historic first

USQ Saints created Darling Downs and quite possibly Queensland rugby history earlier this year.

Dimity Jaeger took the presidency reigns earlier this year – the first woman to do so in Darling Downs rugby history.

“I love the club – the camaraderie in rugby is fantastic,” Jaeger, 25, said.

“It’s a very family orientated, friendly and accepting from the juniors right through to the senior ranks.

“It’s an honour to be the president – particularly the first female president of a rugby club in the Darling Downs.

“I think it’s a big step forward not just for myself, but also rugby and women in sport as a whole.”

While keen to bring her own ideas to the role, Jaeger said she would also look to the club’s rich and successful history as a source of inspiration.

3. Sevens thriller

The Emilee Cherry Cup final was everything a rugby fan could ask for.

The two best teams in the competition, St George and USQ, lined up in the clash and no quarter was given.

From the first kick-off, both sides showed a willingness to spread the ball and play attacking football.

The two sides went try for try in the opening half and were locked 14-14 at the break.

A near length-of-the-field try to St George ace Meg Jakins looked to have sealed victory for her side at 19-14 in the second term, but the missed conversion proved costly.

With full-time edging ever closer, Georgia Sim crossed the line for Saints late and the conversion sealed a 21-19 win for her side.

Penny Dukes (right) was among USQ Saints best players in their Emilee Cherry Cup grand final win.
Penny Dukes (right) was among USQ Saints best players in their Emilee Cherry Cup grand final win.

2. Dual code star

USQ Saints hooker Penny Dukes produced a strong case for player of the match in the women’s grand final.

Her wide runs and ability to find open teammates with a good pass troubled St George all game but the medal didn’t fall her way.

Dukes can hold her head high for so many reasons, though.

Earlier in the day, she helped guide Toowoomba Tigers to a sixth straight AFL Darling Down’s women’s premiership before lining up for Saints.

Dukes’ Rockville Rovers were also a win away from making the Toowoomba Football Leagues Premier Women’s grand final.

1. Bears win final

Rangers were the benchmark all season.

The Toowoomba team was more than impressive during their unbeaten run to the Risdon Cup grand final.

In eight regular season games, Rangers amassed a huge plus-142 points differential and seven wins and thumped Condamine 45-6 in the semi-final.

The only blot on Rangers’ copybook during that run was a 22-22 draw with their grand final opponents Bears in round three.

Everything pointed to a Rangers’ victory but Bears had a different plan.

Last year’s wooden spooners Bears were determined and gritty in the decider.

Rangers produced a late fightback, but Bears held on for a well-deserved 26-21 win.

Originally published as The Chronicle Top 5 rugby moments

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