Brawl ends Spring Cup semi-final contest
RUGBY UNION: The Spring Cup semi-final between the Turtles Brothers and Bundaberg West Barbarians had it all.
A power failure, an all-in brawl and an end to the contest five minutes from the end.
But in the end it mattered little to the result.
Turtles won the game 16-0 but had already qualified for the grand final after the Barbarians fielded three ineligible players in the semi.
Under Spring Cup rules players need to play five regular season matches to play in the finals.
The Barbarians argued for dispensation, claiming a washed out game earlier this season would have qualified those players who had played four matches each.
They didn't get it.
"We originally put the matter to the committee on the 11th of December but only got the response on February 14,” Barbarians captain Jimmy Courtice said.
"It gave us no time for a response, so we had no choice but to play them.
"We believe just because they are one game short, they shouldn't be denied the opportunity to play.”
Bundaberg Rugby president Luke McCloskey, who is also the president of Turtles Brothers, played no part in the decision but said BR's ruling was final.
"The executives did make the decision based on the rules that have been written into our competition rules for many years,” he said.
"Doesn't matter who they are, what they are or what has happened during the season if someone has played two, three or four games they can't play,” he said.
The decision turned the contest into a scratch match but it was nothing like that.
The Turtles raced to a 10-0 lead at half time before the lights went out in the second half, which stopped the game for 10 minutes.
Tempers then flared between the two sides, starting with Turtles' Tukes Hikaka and Barbarians' Corey Valzan clashing about 20 minutes from the end.
Both then were involved in another incident, which started a brawl between the sides.
Punches were thrown as some team members from the sideline got involved as well.
The referee was left with no other choice but to stop the game after handing straight red cards to Hikaka and Valzan.
"That's the first all-in brawl the Barbarians have ever been involved in,” Courtice said.
"I don't like to see it and I hope that it is dealt with properly.”
Courtice said the whole night was a disappointing way to end the season for the club but vowed they would bigger and better next season.
The Turtles now have a wait to see if Hikaka is suspended for the grand final.
But McCloskey is confident of having the player involved in the decider. "There's enough evidence to have the decision overturned if it does go that far,” he said.
McCloskey said the team would improve on its scrums and embrace the challenge of competing for their eight straight title.
The Turtles will play the Pythons in the decider after the minor premiers defeated Isis 29-19 in the other semi-final.
The final will be held on Friday at The Waves Sports Ground.