AS THE Goodna Gladiators earned direct passage to the Pegg Cup grand final, loyal player Michael Baice has experiencing mixed emotions.
He could only watch on as his team beat Wynnum 13-12, having been told he was ineligible to play.
The reason being Baice had played eight games in the top grade through the season. Any more than seven makes a player ineligible for the second grade Pegg Cup finals series.
But on four of those occasions, Baice had already played Pegg Cup and was only backing up to help the top grade.
There was no room for sympathy in the rules so Baice was naturally upset not to be playing.
But it hasn't affected his commitment to the team with Baice running water during the game and assisting at training.
"It was very tough," the 25-year-old forklift driver said.
"It was frustrating watching on from the sidelines. Luckily the boys won."
Goodna trailed by two points before a penalty goal from halfback Malaki Oloitoa two minutes from full-time gave them a lead they retained to grimly advance.
"I was always confident," Baice said.
"But in the last few minutes, it was 50-50."
The win earnt the minor premiers the easy path into the decider, avoiding a preliminary final clash with Pine Rivers this weekend.
The Boars ended Springfield's season with a 32-10 win in the elimination semi to book a meeting with Wynnum.
Baice wouldn't be surprised to see Goodna meet Pine Rivers in the grand final at Ballymore on August 23.
"It's the way they play," Baice said.
"Pine Rivers attack a lot and I think Wynnum can't really defend when attacking teams get a roll on.
"Wynnum plays structured footy.
"If Pine Rivers get 50 percent of possession, I think they'll be too strong."
A win for Pine Rivers is also likely to make for a more attacking grand final, with the Gladiators equally keen to win the premiership playing attacking rugby.
Filling the hooking role Baice left vacant is his little brother Marvell.
Michael has no doubt his spot is in safe hands.
"He knows what he's doing," Michael said.
"I know he'll step up."
Michael has never played a subdistricts grand final before so will have to wait at least another year for that achievement.
But a number of his teammates and coach Heta Pamatatau have been there successfully before.
Baice believes that experience will be crucial. "A few of the boys haven't played at Ballymore before," he said.
"With those that have, it means they won't get the first time jitters.
"I think they will improve heaps.
"Last weekend they learned all the things they would from a loss without losing."
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.