THE Clermont Bush Pigs are one step closer to a Central Highlands Rugby Union premiership after a 20-7 victory over the Emerald Rams at the weekend.
Minor premiers and now grand finalists, the Bush Pigs held strong throughout a tough opening 40-minute period to take a slender, but by no means assured, first-half lead over the Rams.
It was a remarkable turn of form for the Emerald outfit, which just one week earlier was thumped by the Bush Pigs, albeit with minimal playing numbers, by more than 40 points.
The tight scoreline and anticipation of a possible grand final berth for the match winner had coaches at both camps feeling nervous, with penalties conceded straining both teams' defences. In the end it was Clermont who capitalised on their opposition's indiscretions to secure a place in the 2012 grand final.
But despite their success, Clermont coach John Lund was adamant the performance was far from perfect and one which would need a marked improvement if they were to continue their winning ways in the grand final.
"We made a hell of a lot of mistakes," Lund said. "More than we normally would.
"We know it's going to be hard, and we're not going to just walk away with it.
"There is still one more game and nothing else matters."
The Rams' coach Darryl Corrie said the boost in playing numbers reflected in his side's overall performance, despite surrendering a high penalty count.
"It was a way better result than the week before," Corrie said.
"The boys certainly showed a lot more commitment. We had more guys as reserves and that showed in the result.
"Penalties were our downfall.
"We certainly let ourselves down with our indiscretions and I think a lot of that was just the exuberance of everyone.
"Everyone was keen to do well."
The Rams will now meet the Capella Cattle Dogs in the grand final play-off, after the Dogs easily accounted for Moranbah Bulls in the minor semi-final at the weekend.
Coach Corrie said while tomorrow's match would be a tester, it should serve as the perfect platform heading into the grand final - should the Rams be successful.
"It's going to be a very hard game this week against Capella but I think if we can get through that I think we've got more than a good chance to be competitive come the grand final," he said.
Emerald Rams play Capella Cattle Dogs tomorrow afternoon at Morton Park in Emerald.
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