Finals fever sets in across Regional Queensland

Brenden Hertell
by Brendan Hertel

Finals fever is beginning to set in across Queensland and this weekend will see the Central Queensland and Central Highlands competitions lead the charge, as their seasons reach their end point. 

In the Central Highlands, a four-team competition kicked off back in July after the Covid lock down. 

After 10 weeks of competition, the Blackwater Basilisks and Emerald Rams are set to contest today’s Grand Final. 

For Blackwater, it’s a great comeback after the club folded in 2019. 

“Everyone is really pumped and excited,” said Blackwater prop Andrew Parker. 

“The club hasn’t won a title since 2010, and especially considering we’re a team that folded last year.” 

Usually the Central Highlands competition would see more than four teams compete, but with farmers, fly-in-fly-out workers and shift workers unable to commit to the season, some clubs weren’t able to re-group after the Covid lock down. Blackwater’s resurgence is a great nod to the efforts of the players and volunteers in the region. 

“There was a couple of lads that got together and then we had a big recruitment drive,” said Parker. 

“It was definitely hard with all the Covid restrictions, but we got there in the end.

“It’s been really exciting to have Rugby back up and running bringing some culture back to the regional towns. Emerald are our biggest rivals so everyone is excited for the final.” 

In the Central Queensland competition, Gladstone have capped off what has been a massive 12 months for Rugby in the town to reach the Grand Final, where they will face close rivals Brothers. 

“It’s a big rivalry between the two clubs,” said Gladstone club president and lock Seamus O’Connor. 

“They’ve been the ones to beat for the last couple of years and they knocked us out of the finals last year. We’re playing at their home ground so that is an advantage for them that we’ll have to overcome.” 

After hosting the Andy Purcell Cup National Rugby Championship (NRC) clash between Queensland Country and Brisbane City in 2019, the town also hosted the St.George Queensland Reds pre-season match against the Melbourne Rebels, and the interest in Rugby Union has seen the local Rugby club benefit with new faces helping bolster their ranks. 

“The Reds coming at the start of the year jumpstarted our season and our team has stuck together through lock down and at the first training session back after Covid the energy was great. 

“Covid brought every together, and we’ve cherished every home game and training session together. It’s great to see the team getting along so well.” 

Gladstone have also welcomed a Women’s Sevens team to the competition who will also compete in today’s finals, and the local council has also organised a supporter bus to take fans up to Rockhampton for the finals. 

The Central Highlands Grand Final between Emerald and Blackwater kicks off at 4:00pm this afternoon in Emerald, while the Central Queensland Grand Final between Gladstone and Brothers kicks off at 6:00pm at Vic Park in Rockhampton. 

Best of luck to all teams competing.