Goondiwindi forward and Risdon Cup player of the year Yoni Meron is caught by the Toowoomba Rangers defence in their round 18 match at Gold Park. Meron will be looking to cap his stellar season with a premiership victory over Dalby today at Clive Berghofer Stadium.
Picture: Kevin Farmer
IT'S the grand final the competition deserves and the Wagners Risdon Cup gods have delivered.
USQ and Condamine had a dash at glory and Toowoomba Rangers did their best to halt the juggernauts.
But today at Clive Berghofer Stadium, rugby followers will see the cup's two superior sides do battle when Goondiwindi and Dalby meet for the 2018 premiership.
The grand-final ingredients make for a box-office classic.
In one corner the 2018 undefeated Goondiwindi Emus have one final hurdle to clear to complete a perfect season and regain their mantle as Downs Rugby's top dogs.
Standing in their way is reigning premiers Dalby who has denied Goondiwindi in the last two grand-final meetings and is desperate to run down the rampaging Emus and snatch a third successive Risdon Cup title.
Goondiwindi has earned grand-final favouritism with its competition dominance including three season wins over Dalby - albeit by only one point in their major semi-final meeting.
But Emus' coach Luke Fritz believes the match remains a 50-50 call with the game to be played out in the mind as well as on the paddock.
"The best two teams this season have made it through to tomorrow and whoever 'turns up' on the day will win it,” Fritz said yesterday.
Dalby had a sideline kick in the dying match seconds of its semi-final loss two weeks' ago to beat Goondiwindi, but Fritz doesn't believe that close shave will have any influence in today's rematch.
"I like to keep things pretty simple and I don't view it as the wake-up call we needed to keep our minds on the job,” Fritz said.
"The reality is Dalby was bloody good that day and they'll be bloody hard to beat again this week.
"We know we have to play well to beat them and that hasn't changed.”
Fritz has a huge respect for Dalby's all-round abilities but is keen to keep two key Wheatmen under lock and key.
"Dalby is a strong group, but if we can keep a lid on Andrew Turner and Sam Hogarth, that will work in our favour,” Fritz said.
Dalby coach Nathan Bradley said the hunger of both teams today had been well documented but they came with different types of pressure.
"I have told our players there is two ways tomorrow's match can happen,” Bradley said as he prepares for his third and last grand final as Wheatmen coach.
"If we turn up we're a chance. If we don't turn up it won't happen.
"We can't afford to play five bad minutes of football against a side as good as Goondiwindi or we'll pay.
"There is a great hunger in both teams, but for different reasons.
"We have seven different personnel out there from last year and we're hungry to win them their first premiership.
"Goondiwindi are hungry to avenge their last two grand final defeats and return to being the top team.
"But that could be their nemesis.
The fear of a third straight grand final loss and the fear of not completing an undefeated season.”