The Intrust Super Cup Round 18 as ever threw up an interesting bunch of games, and some important results also to set up the run into the 2017 finals.
The weekend’s big game was on the Sunshine Coast, and a depleted Sunshine Coast retook second place on the ladder after beating their visitors on the weekend – the Redcliffe Dolphins.
Slightly further down the ladder and the Ipswich Jets did themselves, and other teams a favour by beating the sixth placed Souths Logan Magpies and closing the gap to the last final place to two points.
Elsewhere Easts dented Mackay’s finals hopes, Wynnum kept their slim chances alive with a win in Rockhampton, and Norths ended a dreadful run of results at the expense of the Pride who now have the same longest losing streak record as the Devils.
Finally the competition leaders ensured they stayed just that after a hard fought win in Port Moresby.
You can follow the action, results and ladder from Round 18 and all the rounds at our Intrust Super Cup Match Centre.
QUICK MATCH BY MATCH PREVIEW
We have a quick preview of all of the Intrust Super Cup Round 18 games below, for more details including team lists click on the links to each match.
EASTS TIGERS 34 MACKAY CUTTERS 10
The Easts Tigers continue their great run towards the top of the Intrust Super Cup ladder with another impressive win over the Mackay Cutters on Saturday afternoon.
After beating the Sunshine Coast last weekend with a late field goal, things were a little more comfortable this weekend against Mackay who came into the game on a 4 game unbeaten run.
The home side scored after two minutes, and through PNG International Tommy Butterfield in the 18th minute, but were pegged back five minutes later when Mackay Cutters scored their first of the afternoon. 10-4 was as close as the Cutters got as Easts took control of the game thereafter.
A Linc Port try before half time, and a quickfire 5 minute double by Gerard McCallum just after half time had the Tigers well in control with half an hour to go. Mackay grabbed themselves a consolation try in the last few minutes, but by then the Tigers had already scored another, and secured two valuable points in their chase of the top of the Intrust Super Cup ladder.
The win sees Easts get within 1 point of 3rd placed Redcliffe, while the Cutters are just hanging on for a finals spot.
Find out more here.
SUNSHINE COAST FALCONS 28 REDCLIFFE DOLPHINS 24
The weekend’s big clash of the weekend between the 2nd placed Redcliffe Dolphins and 3rd placed Sunshine Coast went the way of the Falcons as they retook second position after a 28-24 win.
Conversions and an extra penalty goal made the difference as both sides ended the game with four tries, but it was the 3-2 count on both penalty goals and conversions that made the difference for the Falcons.
The home side took a while to get to the front, after an early Dolphins try and a couple of penalty goals, but two tries saw them sneak in front by the 22 minute mark. Redcliffe responded with a try ten minutes later to retake the lead, but then the half time score was deadlocked when the Falcons got a late first half penalty goal.
After the break it was all Falcons as they score 14 unanswered points by the 60 minute mark to lead 28-14, thanks to two tries and two penalty goals. Redcliffe made it interesting with a try in the 62nd and 75th minute, but it wasn’t enough to overhaul the Falcons, or hold onto second place either.
The Sunshine Coast now move back to second, but losses to both sides over the last two rounds have allowed the PNG Hunters to skip ahead in the race for the minor premiership.
Find out more here.
NORTHERN PRIDE 14 NORTHS DEVILS 20
The Norths Devils handed over the competition’s worst losing streak to their vanquished foe from Saturday night as they ended a horror run of losses against the Northern Pride in Cairns, whose losing run now equals the one Norths just ended. The visitors put in a good performance to respond to the news before the game that head coach Mark Gliddon will step down at the end of the season.
A perfect conversion rate by Hayden Lipp and three penalty goals flattered Norths a little, as there was only one try in the game having outscored the Pride four tries to three.
The Pride were also level with the Devils just after half time when Marcus Jensen scored just after the break, and at 14-14 had the perfect opportunity to add more misery to Norths. That is after they had scored first and lead twice in the first 40 minutes.
But Norths did all the scoring from that point with a pair of tries and a penalty goal sealing the result and breaking a long run of defeats. Whether the win is in time to save their finals hopes remains to be seen. For the Pride they are now equal on points with Tweed Heads at the bottom of the Intrust Super Cup ladder.
Find out more here.
CENTRAL CAPRAS 18 WYNNUM SEAGULLS 36
Wynnum kept their finals hopes alive with a fine away win over the Central Capras on Saturday evening.
A 15 minute second half hat trick to Salesi Funaki was the turning point in the game after the home side had scored first and took a 14-12 half time lead to the break. The two sides had traded the lead in the first half, with the Capras first to score. Three of the four Saturday games had seen the losing side score first.
The above mentioned hat trick took the score from 14-12 to the Capras to 30-14 to the Seagulls and swung the game to the visitors with 10 minutes to go. A Capras try not long after threatened to make for an interesting finish, but Wynnum had the final say, and got the two competition points they needed.
SOUTHS LOGAN MAGPIES 22 IPSWICH JETS 30
The Souths Logan Magpies v Ipswich Jets is fast becoming a game to circle at the start of the season, as the second instalment of this clash for 2017 was just as entertaining as the match earlier in the season. And just like that ealier clash the result went the way of the Ipswich Jets.
Souths Logan Magpies named a strong side, especially in the forwards which was formed from a group of players who have featured on the Broncos bench from time to time. Ipswich Jets are famed for their instinctive ad lib style of football, but they won the clash at Davies Park on the foundation of their much less fancied forward pack.
Of course it helps to have the skills of the Ipswich fast men, in particular Michael Purcell, who has racked up 30 tries in just a season and a half of Intrust Super Cup, and the more you see of the diminutive flyer, the more there is to like. Possibly too small for the NRL, but certainly not lacking in skill and speed.
Newcastle Knights bound Herman Ese’ese opened up the scoring early for Souths Logan with a strong run, but that effort matched when Ipswich big man Tyson Lofipo crashed over. It was followed up with the first of Michael Purcell’s two tries for the day five minutes later and the Jets were ahead and had a lead they weren’t to relinquish for the rest of the afternoon.
They extended that lead further with two more tries, one to five eighth Chris Ash and the second Michael Purcell try had the Magpies struggling at 24-6 down. Occasional Bronco hooker Travis Waddell scored before half time to reduce the gap at half time.
The Magpies looked up for it a little more after the half time break and when George Fai crossed they were within 8 points. Ipswich scored a slightly fortuitous try halfway through the second half to Sam Martin, off what looked to be a forward pass. The try stood and Ipswich were 14 points up with 20 minutes to go. Magpies halfback Sam Scarlett scored with enough time to make it interesting, but it was the final score, and Ipswich had themselves an important win.
The Jets now are within two points of sixth placed Souths Logan Magpies, the Ipswich inadvertently assisted the other finals chasing teams by bringing that sixth place a little closer with six games to go.
Find out more here.
PNG HUNTERS 20 BURLEIGH BEARS 12
The PNG Hunters remain on top of the Intrust Super Cup ladder after another hard fought win in Port Moresby and another game in which the home side were behind.
Despite topping the table, the Hunters have made hard work of a run of games against opposition in the lower half, but the fact that they keep winning them when not at their peak is a good sign for the upcoming finals for which they are going to play a big part in. Or perhaps the wins against lower placed opposition is covering a drop of form. We’ll find out before the season finishes with games against Redcliffe and Townsville to come.
They started off well enough by opening the scoring in the 8th minute, but the 2016 Premiers hit back with tries to Pat Politoni and Matt White, and the Hunters were behind again at home 12-4. A try to Ase Boas before the break reduced the half time deficit to two.
Fears of another home loss were eased not long after when the lanky Bland Abavu crossed to give the Hunters the lead again, and they scored the only other points in the half with ten minutes to go to wrap up another two competition points.
They remain on top of the Intrust Super Cup ladder, for the Bears their title defence appears over.
The Bears have named a very strong side, featuring the recently returned Jamal Fogarty in the halves, and can even afford to name PNG International prop Luke Page on the bench. With the injury crisis easing at the Titans, Burleigh will start to get better players coming back from the NRL.