Rangers outside centre Cade Hill gets his pass away to fullback Tom Dwyer during Saturday’s semi-final win over Pine Rivers at Woodend.
Rangers outside centre Cade Hill gets his pass away to fullback Tom Dwyer during Saturday’s semi-final win over Pine Rivers at Woodend. Claudia Baxter

Rangers improve in finals quest

HEADING into Saturday’s Barber Cup semi-final, Ipswich Rangers captain Cade Hill wasn’t sure how his team was travelling.

He knows now as the minor premiers turned on a dominant display at Woodend to beat Pine Rivers 28-18.

The win booked Rangers a spot in the grand final in a fortnight.

Pine Rivers have the unenviable task of returning to Woodend to play Springfield this Saturday after the Hawks knocked out Wynnum with a 13-6 win in the elimination semi.

“It’s a bit of a relief,” Hill said.

After playing the lesser teams in the last couple of weeks, we weren’t playing that well and didn’t know where we were really at. But we improved immensely on our past games.

“We minimised our errors.

“We always talk about playing the perfect game, even though it’s not possible.

“But it is something we strive for and yesterday was a huge step.”

It must have been Pine Rivers wondering where they were at after Rangers winger Bryce Litzow scored from the game’s opening passage of play.

Similar starts have been Rangers’ downfall at times this season, leading to over-confidence in some games.

That was not the case on Saturday as they continued to dominate the half.

However, a try to the visitors just before half-time meant they trailed just 13-8 at the break and took some confidence into the second half.

A try to each team had Rangers ahead 21-18 with 10 minutes to go and they showed their premiership pedigree with the match-winner that removed any of Hill’s doubts.

“For sure,” Hill said.

“Especially after the past couple of weeks.

“They put us under the pump at times but we withheld that and came out on top.”

Hill recognised there was still room for improvement from his team and they have two weeks to work on ball skills and discipline, which proved their only blemishes.

He has no concerns about his team’s attack or defence, as long as the attitude is right.

“Physically our defence was very good,” Hill said.

“Particularly in the forwards because they have a bigger forward pack than us.”

Setting the standard was second rower Josh Sio.

“He was everywhere,” Hill said.

“All over the ball.

“He was very good defensively and in attack.”

Rangers have the luxury or watching their two would-be opponents go at it on Saturday.

“We’ll look forward to watching Springfield tackle the Boars next week,” Hill said.

They will also get to cheer on Rangers’ Reserve grade side who take on Sunnybank in the Pegg Cup preliminary final after losing 20-15 to Beenleigh on Saturday.