Blair Bows Out
The Queensland Rugby League’s 2012 competition has come down to the final game of the season and the USA will be represented.
Redcliffe will face 2011 champions Wynnum-Manly after Wynnum overran Tweed Heads 30-4 in Sunday’s preliminary final.
All three teams have players on their roster who have been named in the AMNRL’s national team Train-On squad. Tui Samoa (Redcliffe), Mitchell Stevens (Wynnum-Manly) and Cory Blair (Tweed Heads) are all eligible for the USA Tomahawks and each has impressed his respective head coach throughout the course of the long season.
On Sunday, however, it was Blair who played his final match of the QRL Intrust Super Cup season, although not before turning in one heck of a game for his team.
In what was a very physical encounter, particularly in the first half with four players being put on report, Blair played a total of 66 minutes and featured prominently on both offense and defense.
He started the game and played through the 56th minute before earning a spell and then re-entered the fray in the 70th minute and played until the fulltime whistle.
In his time on the field, Blair, a back-rower, made 28 tackles and nine hit-ups.
One play that made the highlight reel came in the 34th minute when Blair pulled off a spectacular try-saving tackle. At the time, with Wynnum leading 6-0 and on the attack close in, their playmaking hooker Jake Granville went for the line, but Blair wrapped him up, stopped his progress and prevented him from grounding the ball in the in-goal.
Blair also made a line break and looked to be on his way to the promised land only to be cut down within a few meters of scoring.
In the end, Blair was one of Tweed’s best on the day as a poor completion rate of 50 per cent kept them on the back foot defending their own mistakes.
Stevens, a right center, didn’t start for Wynnum-Manly, although head coach Paul Green has big wraps on him and says the only reason he’s not a starter is because, “there are a couple of good players ahead of him.”
Minor premiers Redcliffe will go into next Sunday’s Grand Final as slight favorites and Samoa, who has been making big impacts off the bench all season long, is expected to continue his up tempo play for the Dolphins.