GPS snap 22-year drought to claim QLD Premier Rugby crown

by Sam Phillips

The drought is over.

GPS have won their first Queensland Premier Rugby title in 22 years - leading from go to woe claim a pulsating premiership clash against University, 23-16.

Led by inspirational skipper Michael Richards, star inside centre Alfonso Horomia and astute game management from Reds halfback James Tuttle, the Gallopers played with the wind at their backs for the first 40 minutes and established a 17-6 half time lead.

It was a break which proved unassailable despite an archetypal late University surge which had the strong Ballymore crowd perched on the edge of their seats.

GPS started the match by setting up camp in the University 22 for the first 10 minutes, desperate Uni defence repelling wave after wave of pick and drives.

UQ seemed insistent on running the ball out of their 22 and both Tate McDermott and James Dalgleish had kicks charged down, contributing heavily to the territory load.

The charged down of the latter’s kick eventually turned pressure into points, Horomia crashing over the line off the back of clean set piece ball.Tate McDermott and University fell seven points short of another title. Photo: QRU Media/Brendan HertelUniversity kept their composure, Dalgleish slotting a penalty five minutes later to put his side on the board.

Uni's scrum started to crumble quick smart in the minutes which followed, one penalty against the head followed by another against former Irish Test prop Tom Court.

But the minor premiers have long been Queensland’s smartest club rugby side and they found ways - through clever McDermott box kicks and perfectly placed chips from Dalgleish - to earn their fair share of territory as well.

Dalgleish narrowed the deficit to one with 10 to play in the first term but Tuttle responded with three points of his own, the controversial moment of the match coming after the half time siren sounded.

As Jeeps pushed for their second try on the right wing Scott Gale stretched an arm out in an attempt to intercept, knocking the ball down and subsequently denying an unmarked Horomia.

Referee Nic Berry, assisted by Damon Murphy, deemed the swipe a yellow card and penalty try offence, sending the Gallopers into the sheds with a 17-6 lead and a one man advantage when play resumed.

Mitch King was one of GPS' best. Photo: QRU Media/Brendan HertelThe 10 minutes post half time were dull, highlighted by the sheer excitement on the Newstead Hill in contrast when Horomia plucked an intercept and set off for the line in search of his second, a grubber taken back and touched down by a scrambling Will Eadie - gifting GPS a scrum five out from UQ’s line.

The Gallopers scrum, once again, folded University and when Michael Richards opted for another scrum, it was the equivalent of throwing a haymaker in search of a knockout blow.

But Uni responded, forcing a scrum penalty against all odds - keeping their Hospital Cup hopes alive with 20 to play.

Once again they failed to clear their end, another penalty in the red zone this time duly taken by Tuttle to open up a 20-6 break.

Consecutive McDermott and Dalgleish kicks out on the full kept University pinned in their own half, Tavita Davis, Richards and Horomia leading the charge for Jeeps late in the piece.

From no where, the Red Heavies lifted.

It was that man Morrey which finally crossed for the students - 70 minutes into the match - setting up the grandstand finish the Ballymore crowd craved.

Another Tuttle penalty then looked to have put the result beyond all doubt before a sublime Dalgleish pass putting Jock Campbell over the line.

But that would be all she wrote, the Gallopers charging to a well deserved Queensland Premier Rugby crown.

RESULT

GPS 23

Tries: Horomia, Penalty Try

Cons: Tuttle

Pens: Tuttle 3

University of Queensland 16

Tries: Morrey, Campbell

Cons:

Pens: Dalgleish 2