DARK HORSE SUNNY COAST ON VERGE OF GRAND FINAL SPOT

Those predicting the Sunshine Coast as a dark horse in 2016 are smugly sitting back as their finals predictions prove true as the Falcons are now just one win away from a Grand Final appearance at Suncorp Stadium. Named as a dark horse for the finals they duly finished 5th, and also were given the term before the finals started, they are on track to go all the way.

They have done it the hard way too, not only have they played both of their finals games on the road, but were two of the Intrust Super Cup’s toughest assignments. Townsville had only lost 2 games at home in 2016, whilst the PNG Hunters hadn’t lost at home in over 2 years.

A trip to Dolphin Oval is hardly any easier than Townsville or Port Moresby, given the Dolphins have lost just twice there this season, but confidence will be high going into the game.

Redcliffe’s confidence would be slightly dented after being well beaten by Burleigh in Sunday’s big final. Although with the first 40 minutes the Bears put on last weekend, a lot of NRL sides would have gone into the break behind.

Their second half showed some of the qualities that resulted in Redcliffe ending the season as minor premiers, but a repeat of the first half riddled with errors and penalties will give the Falcons a sniff. They don’t need much to hold onto, as they have really grinded out both of their wins so far in the finals and have shown they can do the tough stuff.

Maybe it was the loss they had to have, better to have it in the double chance game than a knockout final, although losing the double chance game doesn’t end up in too many premierships given recent seasons.

But Redcliffe will be comforted by the fact that they have beaten the sunshine Coast Falcons twice this season.

The match ups across the park look very even on paper. Both sets of halves have been excellent in 2016, with the five eighths being the unsung heroes, and the halfbacks dynamic and match winning.

They do rely on the momentum of their forwards, something Redcliffe were completely outplayed at last weekend. Although on paper Redcliffe’s pack is the slightly better one. Their captain Sam Anderson has been one of the outstanding forwards in this year’s competition. Tyson Cleal and his ferocious style is always a favourite. Not that Flacons pack is lacking in quality either.

Alternatively, one could argue that the Falcons have the better backline. Eddie Tautali is a player of high quality and a real danger from the back, and the centre pairing from the Melbourne Storm feeder program Curtis Scott and Ryan Morgan are as good as it gets in the competition.

This will no doubt be a close, which should suit the Falcons who have been involved in two consecutive finals arm wrestles so far. Or Redcliffe could put it all together to book a Grand Final revenge against the Bears.

PREDICTION: Sunshine Coast to continue their giant killing ways and set up a Grand Final battle of the coasts. Falcons by 4.

MATCH STATS
Kick-off Sunday 2:30pm @ Dolphin Oval, Redcliffe.
TV Game – Live on Channel 9 from 2:00pm.

SEASON STATS
REDCLIFFE: 1st – 18 Wins – 5 Losses – 40 Pts – +383
SUNSHINE COAST – 5th – 12 Wins – 1 Draw – 10 Losses – 29 points – PD +39

This is the first clash between the two sides at Redcliffe this season. The two previous games were on the Sunshine Coast and were won by Redcliffe.

Redcliffe were first in attack and defence in 2016, the Falcons were only 11th in attack but the 5th best defensive team.

PREVIOUS CLASHES
2016 – Sunshine Coast 8 Redcliffe 28
2016 – Sunshine Coast 12 Redcliffe 16
2015 – Sunshine Coast 28 Redcliffe 12
2014 – Redcliffe 34 Sunshine Coast 14
2014 – Sunshine Coast 26 Redcliffe 24

TEAMS
Redcliffe Dolphins
1. Jack Ahearn 2. Joshua Beehag 3. Daniel Randall 4. Aaron Whitchurch 5. Curtis Johnston 6. Zach Strasser 7. Darren Nicholls 8. Sam Anderson (c) 9. Shane Pumipi 23. Tyson Cleal 11. Harley Aiono 12. Daniel Bridge 13. Christopher Gesch 10. Charlie Faingaa 15. Joseph Bradley 16. Johnnie Fox 25. Christian Hazard
Coach: Adam Mogg

Sunshine Coast Falcons
1. Eddie Tautali 2. Callum Klein 3. Curtis Scott 4. Ryan Morgan 5. Samuel Wright 6. Alex Bishop 7. Ryley Jacks 18. Felise Kaufusi 9. Thomas Murphy 10. Mark Nicholls 11. Troy Giess (c) 12. Joe Stimson 13. Jon Grieve 14. Sam Burns 15. Tom Geraghty 16. Jye Ballinger 17. Charlie Galo 19. Tui Kamikamica
Coach: Craig Ingebrigtsen