MITCHELL in south west Queensland could well become a ghost town on Sunday as the community inevitably flocks to Roma to watch its local A-grade footy team play its first grand final for 16 years.

The mighty Mitchell Magpies produced an upset in the semis over the weekend, holding out a relentless attack from the Wallumbilla Surat Red Bulls to secure a 22-14 victory.

The win pits Mitchell in the big dance against Roma Cities, the south western rugby league premiers who’ve remained undefeated since the first round of 2021.

“It’s 80 minutes of A-grade footy, another job to do. We know how to do it, and we know we can do it,” Magpies captain Ollie Peak told the Caller.

Mitchell Magpies prop Tom Dawson in one of countless hit-ups on Sunday

The semi final on Sunday was a classic bush footy grind. Injuries on both sides depleted interchange benches, to the point where worn out and limping players had to start returning to the field just to keep full sides on the park.

Star Wallumbilla front rowers Kurt Rowbotham and John Russo had given the Red Bulls momentum all season, but a huge defensive effort by Mitchell managed to put the whole opposition forward pack on the back foot for much of game.

Mitchell prop Matt Newton charged over for try early in the second half to put his team slightly in front, but the game remained in the balance until captain and halfback Tom Kennedy dived through the defensive line to score the match winner with 9 minutes left on the clock.

“It was a grind,” Peak said.

“We’ve found our line speed in the last few weeks and put the pressure on today to turn our defence into attack. If we get that defence right, the attack comes with it.

“It was definitely a defensive game. We knew that they had a bigger forward pack. We had to pick and chose and just chop them when we had to.”

Mitchell halfback at captain Tom Kennedy charges through for the match winning try

It’s been 20 years since the Magpies lifted the A-grade premiership trophy and they’ll have a huge mountain to climb to do it again as underdogs this weekend.

Seeing the Roma Cities spine take control of a game gives the appearance of a professional football team and they have seasoned try scorers all across the park.

But for all the finesse, Cities captain Tom Packer said the team would be focussing on three simple things during training this week.

“We just have to hold the ball, tackle well and keep backing up for our mates,” Packer said.

“It’s always exciting to be in the grand final. It’s what you play footy for – to win the grand final. We play for it all year and it’s exciting that it’s finally come around. 

“Mitchell played really well today. They had a lot of field position and were able to shift the ball well. Some of their more influential players really stood up and I thought that was the difference. We’re looking forward to the game on Sunday.”

Mapgies celebrate becoming grand finalist after the final siren


Bulldogs pipped at the post in Reserve-grade nail-biter

A LATE season surge by Chinchilla’s Reserve-grade side came crashing down in the dying minutes of Sunday’s semi final, as Cities flyer Connor Lacey shot away from a Bulldogs defender and ran home to put his side two points in front.

Roma looked the better team when they put 12 points on Chinchilla throughout the first 40 minutes, but the Bulldogs rallied during the break to produce three tries and bring their grand final campaign back on track.

Both sides will be regretting a handful of clumsy errors which could have tipped the game in either favour, but the Bulldogs’ pressure of defending their line for several consecutive sets eventually broke to hand Cities a 16-14 win.

“She was hard out there,” said Roma captain Jett Hicks.

“Chinchilla’s a good side. We watched them last weekend in the finals and we knew they were going to be tough. It’s good to get a two point win over them. 

“I never lost faith. I remember a story about Ricky Stuart. The Australian team threw an intercept try back in the day and they were about to lose, but they had a seven minute set that they used to do at training and they ended up beating them.

“I looked at the clock today and saw there were six minutes left, so I knew that was plenty of time. 

“I was pretty excited when he (Lacey) broke the tackle. I knew he had pace to burn and when I saw him coming at the fullback I was just hoping he’d have him beaten.”

Roma will take on reigning premiers, the Taroom Wandoan Battlers, in the grand final.

Bulldogs winger Benji Sheppy looks for space in the Reserve-grade semi

It would be brave betting money against St George’s Under-18 team after watching their comprehensive victory over Chinchilla in the semi final.

The Bulldogs put up a gutsy effort and despite a surge in points during the second half, the guys in green were no match for a well drilled and highly physical St George outfit.

Proud coach Jaiden Davis said there’d be confidence at training among the squad this week ahead of their grand final against the Wallumbilla Surat Red Bulls.

“We’ve got a lot of talent across the board, we’ve just needed a bit of discipline in key areas. We’ve fixed up a lot of the those one-percenters over the last few weeks,” Davis said.

“Hopefully we can hold our defensive line, push together and push for one another, and we’ll come out on top.”

St George prop racks up another four-pointer against Chinchilla Under-18s
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