Emus end Rangers' year to move into decider
GOONDIWINDI took another step towards successfully defending its Wagners Risdon Cup title after rolling Toowoomba Rangers in today's elimination final Gold Park.
The Emus reversed the result between the two teams from a fortnight earlier to end Rangers' productive year with a 29-17 victory.
Goondiwindi's run of improving finals' form has now set up a season decider with minor premiers Dalby at Gold Park on Saturday.
The Emus took a firm grip of the preliminary final with a strong first-half showing into a strong headwind.
Goondiwindi raced to a 10-0 lead after 12 minutes with a converted try to winger Sam Bursle and a Will Gilbert penalty goal.
Rangers were able to pull the scoreboard back to 10-all by half-time with a much-needed converted try to forward Stu Killen two minutes from the break.
But with the stiff breeze at their backs, Goondiwindi cashed in to forge a 22-10 lead after 60 minutes following an overlap try to Sean Cairns and a bull-dozing five-pointer to representative prop forward Jack Cook.
Meanwhile Rangers struggled to get out of their own territory in the tricky conditions but they made the most of a rare venture to Goondiwindi's end of the field in the 67th minute when halfback Weston Higgins crossed for a seven pointer to close the gap to 22-17.
But Rangers' late dash for victory proved short-lived when Cairns crossed for his second match try eight minutes from time to seal Goondiwindi's 12-point victory.
Rangers' coach Sam Hannant said his team's season demise came down to a "wasted" opening 40 minutes.
"We didn't do enough in the first half," Hannant said.
"It was a 20-point breeze out there today.
"Gundy were all right, but unfortunately we weren't at our best."
Goondiwindi coach Matt Bell said team continuity is aiding the Emus in their premiership push.
"Our defence in the first half against the wind was good for us today," Bell said.
"We knew in the second half we'd have some more points in us.
"This is the first time this year we've been able to field the same team for three weeks in a row, and that is working well for us."
GOONDIWINDI 29 (Sean Cairns 2, Sam Bursle, Jack Cook tries; Will Gilbert 3 conversions, penalty goal) d TOOWOOMBA RANGERS 17 (Stuart Killen, Weston Higgins tries; Tom Simpson conversion, penalty, Eric Donaldson conversion).