Ants crawl to grand final
THE Kingaroy Red Ants fought through their angst of the last rounds of the season to leave the Cherbourg Hornets high and dry in a sodden preliminary final.
Red Ants' coach Darren Geiger said his team played with a renewed sense to take control of the game from the backline.
"The defensive side was a stand out," he said.
This strong defensive work earned the Red Ants a solid lead in the first half.
"We were up 16-0 at half-time," Geiger said.
But it was no easy game with both teams struggling to control the ball in the rain.
True to the form of the Hornets, Cherbourg's A-grade did not slow down and fought back doggedly to match the score later on in the second half.
This had Geiger slightly panicked but his nerves were put to ease at the end of the game.
"Cherbourg defended well and just coughed it all up," he said.
"They got back 16-16 and then we scored two more on top of them."
At the full-time siren the Hornets were down 24-16.
The elimination of the three-time premiership winning Hornets boosted the confidence of the Red Ants which look to enter the grand final against the Wondai Wolves with a full strength team.
But Geiger expects this game to be one of the toughest of the season.
"I know there won't be much in it," he said.
"I hope we finish six or eight in front. We've given ourselves a chance now, so we've just got to get out there and do it."
Geiger said his team will step the defence up another gear to last the full duration of the game against the Wolves who have only lost one game this season.
"We've just got to defend against them as best we can," he said.
Unable to defend a fifth consecutive spot in the final, Hornets' senior player Alex Speedy said his team's down fall came as a result of poor preparation.
"This is the first year we haven't been in the final since we got back into the competition in 2010," he said.
"I don't think our preparation was good. I don't know what it was, it might have been the rain, I don't know."
Speedy said the Red Ants played with more fire and urgency to ultimately finish as deserved grand finalists.
But as a relatively new team to the A-grade, Speedy felt there was a lack of consistency at training and games compared to previous years.
"If our players were more consistent, we would have taken it out."