The annual Get in the Game Country Week is here as the Intrust Super Cup heads to the bush for six of their seven games this weekend for Round 20.
It is a much anticipated weekend for the Intrust Super Cup, especially for the lucky six towns who get their taste of the competition in 2017.
This year sees games in Bamaga right up near Cape York, out to Julia Creek in the west, just a mere 650km west of Townsville. In the centre of the state is Winton and Clermont who both get a taste of Intrust Super Cup this weekend. And closer to Brisbane are St George and Mundubbera, the latter of which will host the TV game for this weekend.
The reason the Country Week works is that the games are played in the small communities, all of whom really appreciate the action. And the players are in the region in the lead up to the game, not just a fly in, fly out for the game. They immerse themselves in the area, and the added financial boost to these areas generated $104,000 to the six towns in 2016 according to the QRL during the week.
Not forgetting the seventh game, which is in Port Moresby as the competition leaders take on the Mackay Cutters. But for once the National Football Stadium in Port Moresby is the least interesting venue for the Intrust Super Cup.
Onto the quick preview into all of the games for the Intrust Super Cup Round 20. Follow the links for the teams, and updated scores and post match review over the weekend.
Wynnum Manly Seagulls v Northern Pride
@ Yusia Ginau Oval, Bamaga
The far, far northern Queensland location of Bamaga gets their third taste of Intrust Super Cup as the Wynnum Seagulls take on the Northern Pride, who despite being the closest side to Bamaga, are still 1000km away by road.
The Pride were in action last time the competition when they came to Bamaga, and that day they came away with a win over the Norths Devils, and the Pride would surely like to repeat that feat as they come into this weekend on a run of eight straight losses. They remain off last place on points difference, a far cry from their 2014 premiership and 2015 finals appearance. They still have plenty of quality like Cowboys prospect Gideon Gela-Mosby, so surely the luck will turn soon.
Wynnum are also unlikely to make the finals, but are still a mathematic chance, and come into the game on the back of a good win over their bayside rivals Redcliffe as they snatched the game at Dolphin Oval with a late field goal for the second year in a row. It was their second win in a row and fourth from last six, but they can’t afford another loss if they wish to make the finals.
Who is more desperate for the win? The people up near Cape York will be the ones to find out on Saturday afternoon.
See more here.
CQ Capras v Redcliffe Dolphins
@ Bear Park, Clermont
The Central Capras and Redcliffe Dolphins meet at the fantastically named Bear Park in Clermont, which is just a four hour bus trip for the Rockhampton based Capras, and a lot more for the Redcliffe players from Brisbane. It is the first game in the Central Queensland town since 2013, and it is another important clash for both ends of the ladder.
Despite the Capras improved form under coach Kim Williams, they are currently just one point above the last placed Tweed Heads and Northern Pride. Their drop to 12th is on the back of six straight losses, and you have to go back to May for their last win which was against the Pride.
Redcliffe’s recent form, whilst better than the Capras, has dropped off also for a side that led the competition a few months ago. Their last seven games has seen the two losses, three wins and two losses again, and as a result they have dropped from the lead to 4th and now equal on points as the resurgent Townsville Blackhawks in fifth. They need a win against the Capras this weekend or they won’t even get to host a home final at all, let alone celebrate a minor premiership.
See more here.
Ipswich Jets v Townsville Blackhawks
@ Eric Lenton Memorial Recreation Ground, Winton,
Just 600 kilometres down the road from Townsville is Winton, the town that will host the Townville Blackhawks and the Ipswich Jets in a grand final replay of 2015. It seems unlikely that these two teams will meet in this year’s decider at Suncorp Stadium, but it will no doubt be as entertaining as ever.
Ipswich need to win to win to stay in the hunt for the finals. They lost ground last weekend after a narrow loss to the Tigers and the Magpies snuck home against Norths which extended the gap between sixth and seventh to four points. And given the points difference gap between the two sides, Ipswich will likely need to win three more games than Souths Logan in the last six rounds. Given their recent form is 3 wins from 5 games, that seems unlikely, but will be interesting to see them try.
That will be hard for the Jets against a side in the Blackhawks who have hit top form, and are now unbeaten in their last 6 games. The Blackhawks have done some recruiting during the season and have added former Bronco youth product Jordan Drew from the Sharks and Francis Molo from Norths Devils to an already strong side.
Throw in they have the competition’s leading point corer in former Ipswich Jet Carlin Anderson, NRL quality in Blake Leary, Kierran Moseley and Anthony Mitchell, and they have a side strong enough to go all the way. Now that the problems which seem to plague them mid season have seemingly been solved.
Read more here.
Easts Tigers v Norths Devils
@ Archer Park, Mundubbera
A four hour road trip awaits the Channel Nine crew as they take the cameras to Mundubbera for the TV game on Sunday. The town describes themselves as the Citrus capital of Queensland, and they have the Big Mandarin to prove it.
That may be a positive omen for the side in Orange, the Easts Tigers who arrive into the game in the Burnet region inland from Bundaberg in some good form, and has seen them rise to 3rd. And they are just two points shy of second spot.
The Tigers have won their last four, and those wins have come against some of the better sides in the competition, particularly the last minute win against the Sunshine Coast Falcons two weeks ago. They get some of their players back from Melbourne after the Origin period is over and looked primed to continue their charge up the ladder.
Norths Devils went close last weekend against the Souths Logan Magpies, they were the second team from Round 19 to be beaten by a last minute field goal. Before that the Devils broke a seven game losing streak against the Northern Pride, in the same as head coach Mark Gliddon announced his intention to step down at the end of the year. Whether the lift in their form relates is up for debate, a win against the Tigers in Mundubbera will say that it just might.
Burleigh Bears v Sunshine Coast Falcons
@ Rowden Park, St George
6 hours west or so of Brisbane is St George, and what better place to host what shapes as a great game of football between the Burleigh Bears and Sunshine Coast Falcons.
Fresh from a bye, and a good win over Redcliffe, the Sunshine Coast will need to wary against a Burleigh Bears side whose talent belies their lowly 11th place on the Intrust Super Cup ladder.
The Bears who recently thrashed Ipswich 44-0 have been hit and miss in 2017, and were behind the eight ball in their title defence after starting the season with 5 straight losses. But looking through their team list, there is still a lot of quality, most of all the halfback Jamal Fogarty who was one of the main drivers behind their 2016 title triumph.
Sunshine Coast are certainly not lacking in talent either as you only have to look at the fact that Guy Hamilton, a match winner for the Falcons throughout 2017 is named on the bench. The move is to accommodate no less than Storm regular Ryley Jacks, so the stocks at the Sunshine Coast are high. There’s also PNG International Justin Olam who must be edging closer to a Storm debut soon with his recent try scoring feats.
There seems plenty to offer both sides and the game looks like it will be a good one for the people of St George to have the honour of hosting.
Souths Logan Magpies v Tweed Heads Seagulls
Kev Bannah Oval, Julia Creek
Julia Creek is the final of the six Country Week locations for the Intrust Super Cup Round 20, and for the Tweed Heads Seagulls it would actually be a shorter road trip to Melbourne than the western Queensland town.
Tweed Heads remain last, but are equal on points with the Northern Pride and only one point shy of the Capras. An upset against the Magpies could see them jump out of last for the first time this year. Tweed Heads have a good record against some of the top sides, having knocked off two competition leaders, the last one being against the PNG Hunters in Port Moresby, so Julia Creek may not be that daunting after all. Although their 3 straight losses will be tough to turn around.
Souths Logan Magpies remain sixth, and extended their gap from the top 6 to the nearest challenger by two points after scraping home against Norths last weekend with a late field goal from Matt Minto. The off season signing has been one of the driving forces of their rise this season from fringe Top 6 team, to a side that looks a part in the finals calculations. They have maintained their good form despite being a production line for the Broncos this year. They should also welcome back fullback Jamayne Isaako who was not used by the Broncos on Thursday night.
A win for the Magpies will just about rule out any team beating them to sixth place in 2017.
PNG Hunters v Mackay Cutters
@ National Football Stadium, Port Moresby
Fresh from a bye the PNG Hunters welcome the Mackay Cutters to Port Moresby for the last game of the Intrust Super Cup Round 20.
The Hunters still sit atop of the Intrust Super ladder, but the Sunshine Coast amongst others are right behind waiting for a slip up. And given their form at home in 2017, which has seen them lose games that seemed impossible over their unbeaten home run in 2015 and 2016, an upset can’t be ruled out.
PNG should still win the clash this weekend, and their form after their first bye of the season saw them notch up four straight wins including a 42-4 win over the Blackhawks.
Mackay arrive in Moresby having lost once in their last 6 games, and that was to the in form Easts tigers two weeks ago. They had a good win against the Capras last weekend, and being just five points behind the Magpies can still make the finals with a season ending run of wins.
Intrust Super Cup Round 20 Country Week Tips from the Team
How much of an expert are our experts? Find out and follow our tips below. This year we have no less than the CEO of Intrust Super Brendan O’Farrell and Channel Nine’s expert commentator Scott Sattler.
Brendan O’Farrell – CEO Intrust Super
Sunshine Coast Falcons
Souths Logan Magpies
Scott Sattler – Channel 9 and Penrith Legend
Sunshine Coast Falcons
Dan White – Nothing But League’s Northern Queensland and NRL Contributor
Souths Logan Magpies
Matt Crowhurst – Tigers TV
Shannon Meyer – Intrust Super Cup Enthusiast
Souths Logan Magpies
HOW ARE WE TIPPING?
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