GRAND FINAL REPEAT: Rocky Brothers into the big dance
RUGBY LEAGUE: There's no beating experience in the big games and that certainly rang true in Saturday night's classic preliminary final at Browne Park.
Rockhampton Brothers got home 25-22 in a nail-biter against Yeppoon and it was the kicking game of veteran Ian Webster that proved the difference.
The champion fullback had the ball on a string, his precision kicks putting Brothers on the front foot and constantly turning Yeppoon around.
He was also on target from the tee, landing four goals, and he piloted over a field goal in the closing stages of the match.
Brothers' coach Damien Seibold applauded the efforts of Webster and powerhouse prop Jarrod Earle who he said produced his best of the season on Saturday night.
Seibold was clearly relieved to get the result which, by his own admission, could have gone either way.
"It feels really good, especially (given) everything we've been through during the year as far as injury goes and player turnover,” he said.
"There wasn't a lot in it to be honest, at any stage either team could have got away with it.
"When we poked our nose in front I thought the effort that we showed to stay in front and get the result, every single player should be proud of themselves.
"Everyone wrote us off six months ago, everyone wrote us off six weeks ago, everyone wrote us off last weekend and we're still here.”
Brothers' win sets up an epic encounter against defending premiers Norths Chargers in the big dance next weekend in a repeat of last year's grand final.
With it all on the line for both teams, Saturday's game promised plenty and it delivered.
Few would have been brave enough to pick a winner at any stage of the see-sawing thriller which came down to the wire with Yeppoon pressing Brothers' line in the last minute of the game.
Yeppoon was on the wrong side of a lopsided 9-2 penalty count in the second half which had coach Scott Minto seeing red.
"I've been around footy a long time and I probably haven't seen much worse,” he said post-match.
"I just don't know how you win a footy game with those sort of figures but the boys dug in.
"To be up against it and be in it with the last minute to go is pretty pleasing.
"We were in the game the whole time. We went well but we still turned the ball over too often, gave them piggy backs too often.
"Credit to Brothers, they stuck in. I think they turned up for each other which is pleasing for them.”
Brothers' grand final appearance is even more remarkable given they have been plagued with injury, having to use 53 different players in A-grade this year.
And they did not get through Saturday's game unscathed, with Tyler Szepanowski and Ryan Burke both injured and concerns for Webster.
Seibold said Brothers would have to regroup this week in preparation for a formidable North outfit, which has lost just one game this season.
Brothers though are in good form heading into the decider and will be keen to avenge their painful loss in 2016.
"We've only lost one of our last six,” Seibold said. "In saying that we've got a lot of improvement in us as well, it's just a matter of whether we can find that in a week.
"I think we'll give it a good shake.”