A big weekend of Intrust Super Cup awaits as the competition celebrates week 1 of their Men of League / NRL Foundation Round.

They have scheduled this round well with the top four sides all playing each other in big clashes. In Townsville who are playing a Burleigh side who have taken their mantle as front runners, and at Redcliffe is the perennial classic between 2nd Redcliffe and 3rd PNG Hunters.

In almost Noah’s Ark style most of the remaining games are matched in twos or teams not separated by many places on the Intrust Super Cup ladder. with the battle for the last final spot so close, wins are more important than ever between the mid field teams.

HEAVYWEIGHTS CLASH IN THE ‘VILLE

by Dan White

After their first weekend off since the start of the season, the Townsville Blackhawks will be looking to re-establish their premiership credentials that have been tarnished wish some of their more recent results. Burleigh comes up sitting two games in front of Townsville and there is no way that they want this to extend any further. A factor for this game will be the weather, rain and cold weather (for those of us who live up here 12 degrees is cold ok) has followed the Bears up the coast and so we are actually having a few winters days.

The Blackhawks are fielding a strong side, Anthony Mitchell, Michael Parker-Walshe and Jahrome Hughes are all back and the side is only down Ray Thompson and Glen Hall from the normal starting side. They will hope that they can resume normal service and start piling the points back on after their poor showing against Souths Logan.

The Bears are on top and while the score line last week showed a close result, it was a frantic flurry from the Devils that made it look closer than it was. Letting in five tries in fourteen minutes would not be good for the coach’s heart, and whilst I am sure the Blackhawks would like the Bears to keep those doors open, they will be well closed come kick-off on Saturday afternoon.

The Bears have shuffled a few forwards around for the game, how this will impact on the defence will be the most interesting component, but every player in this league is there for the opportunities and sometimes a player has a naturally better side to be standing on. Will this be a masterstroke by the Bears, or will it provide an opportunity for the Blackhawks?

Two very stable squads, with players that are either NRL quality or knocking on the doors, will provide for a classic afternoons entertainment. Do not be surprised if Samsen O’Neill scores from anywhere on the field or finishes off a backline move on his opposite wing, the lad is fast and very hard to stop.

The Blackhawks are under pressure, they will need to win this (and win it well) to right the ship and it would not surprise me to see them put up 40 points after their late season break.

MATCH DETAILS
TOWNSVILLE BLACKHAWKS V BURLEIGH @ Jack Manski Oval
Kick Off – Saturday 4pm
This Year – Burleigh 28 Townsville 28
Last Year – Townsville 78 Burleigh 6 / Burleigh 10 Townsville 46

CUTTERS LOOKING FOR CLEAN SWEEP OF JETS IN 2016

by Dan White

The Jets have joined the logjam for the final place in the final six, they need margin and they need to maintain their recent winning form. The Cutters celebrated their round 17 win with a bye and so will head down to North Ipswich Reserve with both a win and a rest. The rest may be the critical difference as the game clock winds down.

Ipswich was in a rebuilding mode this season, six players all headed off to NRL teams and the Walker boys knew that their season was going to be tough. Five wins (and a bye) in the last seven rounds has them on the edge of finals footy and also lining up a sweep of the northern sides after racking up victories over the Hunters, Cutters, Blackhawks, Capras and Pride. You would think that this was a game that they have already pencilled in as a win.

Mackay had their second win of the season over the SC Falcons before the bye, and that is not to be sneezed at. A large number of their more recent losses were by small margins and they had led at half time in a few of them, finishing the game out has what had caught them short. They did that over the Falcons and it would be foolish to dismiss their chances in this match. They even get Josh Chudleigh back from his Cowboys debut (where he was easily one of the best against Canberra (and scored)).

So the hard logic would have this game as an easy victory to the Jets, but they have been up for a while now and every team in this competition can be dangerous on their day. If the Cutters can contain Ben White and Michael Purcell on the right hand side, they will go a long way in tying down the score board. If they can then exploit the speed and mobility of Chudleigh, then an upset would be definitely on the boards.

Logic says Jets to win 32 – Cutters 18. Factoring in the bye, the recent travel by the Jets and how close the Cutters have been in recent months, I would not be surprised to see the Cutters take this game 28-10 in an upset.

MATCH DETAILS
IPSWICH JETS v MACKAY CUTTERS @ North Ipswich Reserve
Kick Off – Saturday 4:30pm
This Year – Mackay 38 Ipswich 36
Last Year – Mackay 20 Ipswich 36

FALCONS NEED VICTORY TO KEEP IN TOUCH

by Shannon Meyer

It will be a slightly somber mood on Saturday night as the Devils and Falcons meet in the same fixture in which an unfortunate accident befell James Ackerman.

The Falcons have gone onward and upwards since, and they have almost delivered on the preseason predictions of top 6.

Very few, if any, would have tipped the Devils for the Top 6 at the beginning of the season, but they are one of a bunch of 8 clubs within 4 points of each other and fighting for the sixth spot and last finals place.

Every game at this stage will be vital, and both of these sides are in danger of falling too far behind with a loss this weekend.

Key battle will be in the halves with two of the competition’s finest going head to head featuring Norths’ Todd Murphy and Sunshine Coast’s Ryley Jacks. The winner of the number 7 clash will probably determine who gets the two points.

MATCH DETAILS
NORTHS DEVILS v SUNSHINE COAST FALCONS @ Bishop Park
Kick Off – Saturday 4pm
This Year – Sunshine Coast 28 Norths 4
Last Year – N/A

SEASON ON THE LINE FOR CAPRAS AND SEAGULLS

by Dan White

The Capras come in after dropping a point after letting in a late Easts try last weekend, Tweed Heads comes in on a bit of a mini slump, but they were the last team to beat the Jets. They will be facing up on a cool, wet night and I am trying hard to pick the eventual winner.

Capras have been inconsistent but are still a fringe (and unlikely) chance of taking the sixth ladder spot. They have a tough run home, but due to their recent draw are only one and a half wins outside. Tweed are similar, two wins behind the final spot, but both teams would have to go on a run and beat teams who are up at the sharp end to squeeze in.

So it is really just Pride on the line for both sides. It is going to be a tough, wet night (like the entire east coast seems to be enjoying) and I always found it funny how teams react when there is little on the line and conditions are not the best. To me, these conditions should favour the Capras, they are at home and will want to make sure any of their loyal fans get rewarded for their support. It might just be enough.

With the weather I would favour someone like Matt Minto in stepping up and taking this game by the scruff of its neck. His boot has been the best thing for the Capras so far this season and should be the difference in this result.

MATCH DETAILS
CENTRAL CAPRAS v TWEED HEADS SEAGULLS @ Browne Park
Kick Off – Saturday 6pm
This Year – Tweed Heads 38 Central 4
Last Year – Central 24 Tweed Heads 32 / Central 16 Tweed Heads 20 (Bundaberg)

PRIDE NEED TO TAKE STRIDES TOWARDS FINALS

By Dan White

After the Northern Pride went down to the Jets last weekend, you really had to feel for Joe O’Callaghan. As a coach you can plan and challenge your players, but if they are mentally not in the game, the whole coaching gig becomes painful. Now they face off against Wynnum Manly, who went against Souths Logan at their house and took care of business in a way the Blackhawks failed to do so in the previous week.

Wynnum Manly are one of the four teams sitting on 18 points. They need the wins to keep coming and they also need to improve their margin, if they want to be playing after round 25. The Pride sit above them in that number 6 slot and are ripe and ready for the picking. With both sides, this is a final before the finals as the winner will be in a lot better position than their vanquished foe.

But how do you rank these sides, these teams have both lost games they should win, and win the odd game that reveals the talent and makes you question why they are struggling. The beauty of sport is that the game can reveal so much, but the twisted essences of clashes like this one make you wonder why you would choose to support a team. The Pride are only a couple of years removed from their Premiership, two years before that Wynnum Manly completed the double. Both are proud sides and yet we scratch our heads as they bounce around the middle of the table and are inconsistent to boot.

This game has everything you would want, significant implications, two great clubs, a number of players knocking on the door of NRL selection and I hope it does live up to the game it should be. But for me the Pride have been very poor in the last six rounds and Wynnum Manly are the same (mind you they are better in the last two rounds).

MATCH DETAILS
WYNNUM SEAGULLS v NORTHERN PRIDE @ BMD Kougari Oval
Kick Off – Saturday 6pm
This Year – Pride 6 Wynnum 34
Last Year – Wynnum 20 Pride 21

NEW STAND OPENS AT DOLPHIN OVAL FOR BIG HUNTERS CLASH

by Shannon Meyer

After almost teasing the Redcliffe faithful with a completed grandstand without any seats, the new facilities open on Sunday for the TV cameras.

What better time too with the arrival of the PNG Hunters, who would have fond memories of Dolphin Oval being the venue for their first game in the Intrust Super Cup in 2014.

That inaugural clash ended in a 6 point Hunters win, and all games have been tight between these two sides with the highest margin being 7 points.

Last year’s clash at this ground proves there is little between the sides no matter the form lines and Dolphins managed a 28 all draw at the height of the Hunters powers in 2015.

The Hunters looked to have turned back the clock to their much loved style of ad lib and powerful rugby league against Tweed in their last game, and the Dolphins bounced back confidently against the Falcons last weekend.

2nd v 3rd – it should be a classic and you should get along to it or follow on TV.

MATCH DETAILS
REDCLIFFE DOLPHINS v PNG HUNTERS @ Dolphin Oval
Kick Off – Sunday 1:40pm
TV GAME on Ch9 / Southern Cross Qld
This Year – PNG 22 Redcliffe 18
Last Year – Redcliffe 28 PNG 28 / PNG 30 Redcliffe 26

MUST WIN GAME AWAITS TIGERS AND MAGPIES

by Matt Crowhurst

It is a terrible sporting cliché to say that this is a ‘must win game’ but this game is approaching those proportions for both teams. The Tigers currently sit in 3rd but have a horror home run that includes Wynnum and PNG away and top tier sides Redcliffe and Burleigh at home. The Tigers will need points in the bank now before they face that run and will be hoping the two draws they have had this season do not come back to haunt them.

The Magpies have launched a real mid-season revival and need these two points to get out of the mid table quagmire that sees them locked with the Pride and the Jets in the battle for sixth spot.

The Magpies lost to Wynnum last week but the week before beat the high flying Blackhawks and are always formidable at Davies Park. Centre Marion Seve must be on the verge of NRL selection and will need to be closely watched. The ageless warrior Phil Dennis is the 5th most capped player in ISC history and will bring all that guile and experience to bare in the halves while Travis Waddell is always dangerous from dummy half.

The Tigers have been uninspiring in recent weeks; they were lucky to sneak a draw with the Capras and only played 40 minutes of football the previous weekend against the Devils. They will be sweating on the fitness of Brodie Croft to back up from Wednesday nights Under 20’s Origin game. They look like a very different team with him in the halves and he is crucial for them if they are to get the win.The Tigers forwards have been good in recent weeks and will need to lift again this weekend if they are to secure the two points.

MATCH DETAILS
SOUTHS LOGAN MAGPIES v EASTS TIGERS @ Davies Park
Kick Off – 2:05pm
This Year – Easts 38 Souths Logan 32
Last Year – Easts 52 Souths Logan 0 / Easts 18 Souths Logan 16 (Blackall)

TIPSTER’S TIME

MATT PRITCHARD (Editor) (65/110)
Burleigh, Ipswich, Sunshine Coast, Central, Wynnum, Hunters, Easts

DAN WHITE (North Queensland Correspondent) (63/110)
Townsville, Ipswich, Norths, Central, Wynnum, Hunters, Souths Logan

SHANNON MEYER (SEQ + PNG Correspondent) (63/110)
Townsville, Ipswich, Sunshine Coast, Central, Pride, Hunters, Souths Logan

SCOTT SATTLER (Channel 9 + Penrith Legend) (68/110)
Burleigh, Ipswich, Sunshine Coast, Central, Wynnum, Hunters, Souths Logan

MATT CROWHURST (Tigers TV) (64/105)
Bureligh, Ipswich, Sunshine Coast, Tweed Heads, Wynnum, Redcliffe, Easts

 

Team P W D L B F A +/- Pts
Burleigh Bears 17 13 1 3 1 510 366 144 29
Redcliffe Dolphins 16 11 0 5 2 430 251 179 26
PNG Hunters 16 11 0 5 2 365 285 80 26
Townsville Blackhawks 17 11 1 5 1 490 289 201 25
Easts Tigers 17 10 2 5 1 445 348 97 24
Northern Pride 16 7 0 9 2 357 349 8 18
Souths Logan Magpies 17 7 2 8 1 441 434 7 18
Ipswich Jets 17 8 0 9 1 396 407 -11 18
Wynnum Manly Seagulls 16 7 0 9 2 363 397 -34 18
Sunshine Coast Falcons 17 7 1 9 1 313 346 -33 17
Norths Devils 17 6 1 10 1 376 472 -96 15
CQ Capras 17 6 1 10 1 360 516 -156 15
Tweed Heads Seagulls 16 5 0 11 2 297 482 -185 14
Mackay Cutters 16 2 1 13 2 326 527 -201 9