A different look to the Intrust Super Cup heading into Round 16 as top spot does not belong to the Townsville Blackhawks, which has seemed their home for most of their life in the competition since joining for the 2015 season. Last weekend they lost a second consecutive game for the first time in their short history, and due to the closeness of the top of the ladder slipped to fourth. The Blackhawks welcome the Sunshine Coast in Townsville for the first time to attempt to get back to the summit.
Top spot belongs to the Burleigh Bears and given the performance they served up on Sunday in defeating Gold Coast rivals Tweed Heads in the pouring rain, it is hard to argue they don’t deserve it. They head to Rockhampton for a tricky fixture against the Capras to maintain position, Central won only once last year and it was this fixture, and they surprised the Bears on the Gold Coast earlier in 2016.
Another former heavyweight side looking for some overdue success, Redcliffe Dolphins, moved into second without playing a game thanks to a bye, and they get their first TV game for the season against bottom side Mackay Cutters on Sunday, and the first since the upgraded Dolphin Oval was unveiled. Mackay will be without head coach David Simpson whose departure was announced by the club on Thursday, and will be replaced by Jim Wilson.
Elsewhere there’s a replay of the 2014 Grand Final between Easts and Northern Pride, the Magpies and Tweed Heads Seagulls meet to try and stay in touch with the top 6, and the PNG Hunter leave their comfortable surroundings of Port Moresby for Bishop Park to take on Norths.
EASTS TIGERS v NORTHERN PRIDE
Preview to come
Easts Tigers v Northern Pride @ Suzuki Stadium, Langlands Park
Kick Off – Saturday 3pm
This Year – Pride 30 Easts 16
Last Year – Easts 20 Pride 12 / Pride 24 Easts 12
Live Stream – http://thetigers.com.au/tigertv-live/
BLACKHAWKS LOOKING TO AVOID THREE STRAIGHT LOSSES
Townsville head in after two loses, the Falcons are in after a strong win over Easts at home. Round seven saw the Blackhawks take the points off the Falcons in a dominant display, however the two teams are now only two games apart on the tables and the Blackhawks recent stumbles have seen them drop down to fourth.
Townsville has made the change permanent now with Matthew Bowen taking up the fullback position for the remainder of the season, but is this working for the side. The last two weeks have seen performances that seem to have exposed the lack of time together with Bowen moving in to such a key position. It could be a shorter stay than anticipated if the team does not start getting some wins occurring and this week is not an easy game.
The Falcons have been a bit up and down, from round 10 they have had two wins, a bye, a draw and two losses, and home and away form is inconsistent. With a number of changes including Faleao and Young changing out the left side of the backline to Kennar and Klein, the Falcons are not resting on their win and the fresh legs may help them for this clash.
Who will win? I would still be on the Blackhawks at home, and now with two losses they will not be going to be taking the Falcons lightly. Final Score Blackhawks 24 Falcons 6.
Townsville Blackhawks v Sunshine Coast Falcons @ Jack Manski Oval
Kick Off – Saturday 4pm
This Year – Sunshine Coast 10 Townsville 40
Last Year – Sunshine Coast 13 Townsville 20
CAPRAS FACE DAUNTING TASK AGAINST BEARS
The Capras went down away to the Devils and whilst they are coming home, they are facing the ladder leaders who will be desperate to hold on to the top of the table. The Capras have not been terrible this year, but the Bears are the better side regardless of location. The Capras will have to be on their game to make it close.
CQ Capras have named an extended bench for the clash, with two to go before the whistle blows, however their core 13 stay unchanged at the moment and they have not been bad performers with six wins so far. Reece Baker at fullback has certainly been earning his money, and they will all have to come Saturday night. Matthew Minto has been a deadest gun when converting tries, and this may become a major factor if they can keep the game close.
The Bears, on the other hand, will not be taking this match as a foregone conclusion. They would have taken notes about the Blackhawks Jets game and be making sure to give the Capras the respect they deserve. Oliver Regan was the only back to miss out last weekend and it would be surprising for that trend to continue. Their conversion rate last weekend was 50% and the need for a reliable kicker, whilst it has not cost them yet, may be a factor in this game.
Central Capras v Burleigh Bears @ Browne Park
Kick Off – Saturday 6pm
This Year – Burleigh 32 Central 38
Last Year – Central 22 Burleigh 14 / Burleigh 28 Central 12
FIRST TEST FOR NEW COACH JIM WILSON AS CUTTERS TRAVEL TO DOLPHIN OVAL
The TV game this week will bring the focus on the bottom of the table Bears facing the second placed Dolphins, in their house. It may not be a nice thing to watch.
Redcliffe have been solid and tough and in the recent weeks put in wins over the Blackhawks, Capras, Bears and Devils. Two of those wins are against leading sides and at home they have been very impressive. Former Raiders prodigy Jack Ahearn has shown that his old form is coming back and he is outclassing many of his opponents. The dynamic duo of Strasser and Nicholls has also been running the game with rare quality and consistent performances. It will be a hard time for any team to put a stop to the Dolphins in their current form.
The Cutters could win this game, just like a number of other clashes though it may come down to a couple of points (but I doubt it). They were unlucky in losing to the Pride last weekend and again the week before, they are currently proving the adage of Winning form is the best form. By proving, that the reverse is also true, you can see that they have found ways to lose matches even when leading with minutes to go. The game clock runs for 80 minutes, and if the Cutters do not start completing every sit, then they will continue to lose the close games in heartbreaking fashion. They had some upheaval this week with first season coach Dave Simpson resigning from the club and his assistance taking over. Many of the players may see this as a chance to impress their new boss, unless they have been losing on purpose, then I doubt this change will be enough to improve their performance by that much
Most TV Games have been reasonably tight so far this season, I do not think this one will be. Final Score: Dolphins 44 over the Cutters 8.
Redcliffe Dolphins v Mackay Cutters @ Dolphin Oval
Kick Off – Sunday 1:40pm
TV GAME – CH9 / WIN / Replays Fox Sports
This Year – Mackay 20 Redcliffe 26
Last Year – Mackay 28 Redcliffe 18 / Redcliffe 40 Mackay 18
MIDFIELD STOUSH AT PIGGABEEN AS BIRDS TRY TO KEEP IN TOUCH WITH TOP 6
Two sides looking to stay in touch with the top 6 meet at Piggabeen on Sunday, and it should be drier this weekend after the extremely wet conditions made the Seagulls game against rivals Burleigh a tough prospect and they ended on the receiving end of a loss.
Both teams have been hot and cold throughout the season, and that is probably proved by their current position on the ladder, where the Magpies are just 3 points behind 6th place and the Seagulls just another two points behind, but sit second last on the ladder such is tightness of the competition this season.
Souths Logan may well be higher, but have consistently supplied some of the prospects to their parent club Broncos. But that is one of the great attributes of the Intrust Super Cup, and one Broncos head coach Wayne Bennett uses with regularity.
Hard one to pick, so default home team pick is an easy way out.
Tweed Heads Seagulls v Souths Logan Magpies @ Piggabeen
Kick Off – Sunday 2pm
This Year – Souths Logan 28 Tweed Heads 10
Last Year – Tweed Heads 24 Souths Logan 0 / Souths Logan 24 Tweed Heads 22
PNG HUNTERS LOOKING FOR AWAY CONSISTENCY TO MOUNT SERIOUS TITLE BID
The PNG Hunters have an envious and daunting record at home, as one would expect from a side based in another country and one as passionate about rugby league as Papua New Guinea. But it has been the away form of the Hunters that needs improvement in 2016 if they are to mount serious challenge for the title this season.
That’s not to say their away form has been terrible, they did win three of their first four away from PNG, but have lost their last three away to Burleigh, Central and Ipswich. But the Hunters have a run of games coming up against all the top sides, and if they are serious about taking the Intrust Super Cup back to PNG, these are the games they need to win.
A win at Bishop Park is not as easy as the Hunters would hope though, and Norths are coming off a tremendous win in Bundaberg, easily beating the Central Capras 40-24 on almost the Capras territory. Whilst the Devils sit in 10th, their results don’t show their competitiveness in 2016 and the improvement on last year. They sit just 4 point from 6th place and a win here would give plenty of hope they can be still playing in September.
Norths Devils v PNG Hunters @ Bishop Park
Kick Off – Sunday 3pm
This Year – PNG 38 Norths 22
Last Year – Norths 16 PNG 34
MATT PRITCHARD (Editor) (55/93)
Easts, SC Falcons, Burleigh, Redcliffe, Souths Logan, PNG
DAN WHITE (North Queensland Correspondent) (55/93)
Easts, Townsville, Burleigh, Redcliffe, Souths Logan, PNG
SHANNON MEYER (SEQ + PNG Correspondent) (52/93)
Easts, Townsville, Burleigh, Redcliffe, Tweed Heads, PNG
SCOTT SATTLER (Channel 9 + Penrith Legend) (58/93)
Easts, Townsville, Capras, Redcliffe, Souths Logan, PNG
MATT CROWHURST (Tigers TV) (57/93)
Pride, Townsville, Burleigh, Redcliffe, Tweed Heads, Norths
|Sunshine Coast Falcons||14||7||1||6||1||275||270||5||17|
|Souths Logan Magpies||14||5||2||7||1||337||356||-19||14|
|Wynnum Manly Seagulls||14||5||0||9||1||316||361||-45||12|
|Tweed Heads Seagulls||14||5||0||9||1||257||394||-137||12|
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