Coach Minto: 'One of the best wins I've been involved with'
RUGBY LEAGUE: Yeppoon coach Scott Minto has hailed his team's gritty semi-final win over Norths as one of the best he's ever been involved with.
The minor premiers produced one of their best defensive efforts of the season to run out 26-6 winners and be the first team into the September 1 grand final.
Norths will now play in Sunday's preliminary final against Rockhampton Brothers, who crushed Emu Park 62-10 in Saturday's elimination semi.
But the odds are stacked against Norths after two of their key playmakers were injured on Sunday.
It is feared that halfback Dean Allen has ruptured his ACL, while hooker Darcy Davey hobbled from the field with a serious quad injury.
Norths coach Kane Hardy admitted it would be hard going if Norths were without their star duo.
"We're going to regroup. We're still a chance so we can't be dragging our lip and carrying on that way,” he said.
"We've just got to work on the things that we did wrong and prepare well this week.”
Minto said it was a great team performance from the Seagulls and he was pleased at the way his players worked hard for each other.
"It was pretty tough there for a while but the boys dug deep and defended really well.
"We just knew if we got stuck into them early we would see the benefits later into the contest and as it was we got a few tries and away we went.
"In the second half we probably spent 20-25 minutes in our own half. You can't win football games without the ball so we obviously cleaned that up and finished it off well.
"That's probably one of the best wins I've been involved with, purely for the fact that we were on the back end of a huge penalty count and obviously we just had to defend a whole heap.”
Yeppoon showed early why they are the benchmark in the competition, and first half-tries to Jamie Minto, Parry Boland and Jonathan Still had them leading 16-nil at half-time.
Norths were back in the contest when Brendan Stanley crossed just five minutes into the second half but Yeppoon responded promptly, with Minto crossing for his second within minutes.
Norths had clicked into gear and continued to pile on the pressure but were unable to crack Yeppoon's defensive line.
Yeppoon managed to get the ball back in their hands and Jace O'Neill rounded out the scoring with the team's fifth try of the game.
Hooker George Grant was brilliant as he conjured up some attacking magic for the victors.
Minto described him as a "one of a kind player” who had the ability to win games.
"He's one of those players who can see something in front of him and go and play it and create opportunities as you saw with that last try,” he said.
"I thought our forwards were really good, and Jace O'Neill was outstanding at right centre.
"Our halves picked it up towards the end of the game and closed it out, and John Still on the left edge was brilliant too.”
Minto said his players would appreciate the two-week break to get over some niggling injuries.
"We won't know who we're playing but the focus will just be on working hard.
"You can't drop the baton and think things are going to happen for you so we'll just make sure we're putting our heads down, bums up and making sure we're going to be right when we hit the field in two weeks' time.
"When your defence is holding up like we showed today you're always going to be hard to beat. So it'll be a matter of letting the boys know we've got one to go so let's make sure we are in the same frame of mind when we get to the big dance in a fortnight's time.”