QLD Premier Rugby: GPS riding high after UQ upset
The Gallopers are full of confidence heading in to Sunday’s Major Semi Final against University after their thrilling win over the Students two weeks ago – Michael Atkinson reports. Photo: Brendan Hertel – QRU Media
In round 17, GPS ended UQ’s hopes of an undefeated season.
They accomplished something no other side has been able to do this year, and, in doing so, established themselves as genuine premiership contenders.
At 3:05pm this Sunday, the same enemy stands in front of them, blocking their path of direct entry to the Grand Final and a much-vaunted week off.
“That’s the aim,” said GPS coach Anthony Mathison.
“The guys certainly took a lot of self-belief out of the win a couple of weeks ago.”
“To actually go out on the field and not just think we can do it but to actually do it, and the way we were able to hang in there and take an opportunity when one came up, will put us in good stead for this weekend.”
The Gallopers’ three-point victory in a match that saw a total of 88 points scored, has been described as the best game of footy throughout the entire 18 rounds of competition.
But Mathison still doesn’t actually consider it to be his side’s strongest performance.
“We know we weren’t at our best,” the coach confessed.
“There’s still plenty of room for improvement there as well.”
The Students’ points, for the majority, came through their backs and they found opportunities to carve holes in Jeeps’ midfield defence and their kick chase.
But the silver lining for the Gallopers is that they now know what they need to fix.
“We feel as though we probably allowed them a few scoring opportunities, probably a little too easily,” said Mathison.
“If we tighten up that defensive side of the game, then hopefully it doesn’t allow the game to drift away from us as it could’ve two weeks ago.”
Mathison is well equipped for taking University down in the finals.
He was Assistant Coach for Brothers in 2016 when they defeated the Red Heavies in the finals series on their way to lifting the Hospital Cup.
Brothers defied most people’s predictions by defeating Uni in last year’s decider, and they did it by flexing their forward muscle.
And that is something Mathison thinks this Jeeps side has in spades.
“Our forwards have a been a real strength for us throughout the year,” said Mathison.
“If they’re able to get a bit of a roll on, we’re pretty confident we can score points on the back of that; as we’ve proven throughout the year.”
The former Reds prop has helped turn the Gallopers’ scrum into arguably the greatest attacking weapon in the competition.
But he’s not kidding himself in thinking his side can simply rely on their set piece.
“To play Uni, you’ve gotta be really switched on and really accurate with the fundamentals of your game,” Mathison told Rugby News.
Helping the Gallopers’ cause is the return from injury of stalwart James Herbert, and exciting young outside back, Pat Nicholson.
Combine that with the likelihood that Reds’ halfbacks, Nick Frisby and James Tuttle, will pull on the green and blue, the Jeeps’ backline may be about to give their forward pack a run for their money.