PREVIEW

The second Elimination final plays out on Sunday afternoon as the Easts Tigers meet the Townsville Blackhawks for the honour of surviving another week, and playing the winner of the Sunshine Coast and Souths Logan.

Easts Tigers have a load of big name stars lining up for them this weekend. Headlining the Tigers big names is the heir apparent to Cooper Cronk – Brodie Croft – who could hardly have been more impressive in his chances at the NRL this season. There is also Nate Myles who played in State of Origin 1 this season no less, and the raw talent of players like Croft and the NRL experience of Nate Myles sees them head into the game as favourites.

For Townsville, a side that has been a front runner in their first two season since their inception in 2015, their 2017 has been patchy at best. They have lost four of their last five, and despite handing out the occasional flogging at home, have been underwhelming at times in Townsville. They have won as many games on the road this season than at home, so perhaps a trip to SEQ will no be too much of a worry.

LAST TIME OUT

The two sides has different last weekends of the regular season, the Blackhawks suffering a big loss on the Sunshine Coast, where as the Easts Tigers had a solid 32-12 win over the Burleigh Bears, a side which were almost in competition best form for the last quarter of the season.

Townsville will still be smarting and have lost the Intrust Super Cup’s leading point scorer in fullback Carlin Anderson through another cruel season ending injury. Perhaps one day he will get some luck, and get that elusive NRL chance. The loss was the Blackhawks fourth loss in their last five games, which doesn’t set up a big finals tilt.

 

KEY BATTLE

It is easy to pick the halves as the key battle, so we will.

But how can you not have your focus on the halves when one side contains one of the NRL rising talents in Brodie Croft. Not to forget Billy Walters, who has also been excellent in 2017, and has done enough to catch the eye of the Melbourne Storm bosses for 20-18.

There’s nothing wrong with the Townsville duo either, Kyle Laybutt was superb for the Queensland Residents side against the NSW equivalent earlier in the year, showing he can handle a big game. Michael Parker-Walshe is a top notch halfback, and he was a major part in their rise to a Grand Final in their first year in the Intrust Super Cup in 2015.

They’ll still need their forwards to do the work, and that head to head seems to slightly favour the Blackhawks.

PREDICTION

So many things point towards an Easts Tigers win.

Easts by 16.

2017 HEAD TO HEAD

R5 – Townsville Blackhawks 22 Easts Tigers 35

MATCH ODDS

EASTS TIGERS $1.34
TOWNSVILLE BLACKHAWKS $3.25 (START +8.5 $1.90)

TEAMS

Easts Tigers

1. Linc Port 2. Young Tonumaipe’a 3. Shane Neumann 4. Conor Carey 5. Jarrod McInally 6. Billy Walters 7. Brodie Croft 8. Nate Myles 9. Tommy Butterfield 10. Mark Nicholls 11. Jake Foster (c) 12. Robert Rochow 13. Jack Svendsen 14. Matt Zgrajewski 15. Charlie Galo 16. John Puna 17. Brayden Torpy 18. Chris Ostwald

Coach: Scott Sipple

Townsville Blackhawks

1. Paul Byrnes 2. Ty Carucci 3. Davin Crampton 4. Jordan Drew 5. Jonathon Reuben 6. Kyle Laybutt 7. Michael Parker-Walshe 8. Sam Hoare 9. Anthony Mitchell (c) 10. Francis Molo 11. Blake Leary 12. Andrew Niemoeller 22. Oshae Tuiasau 14. Kierran Moseley 15. Kieran Quabba 16. Jordan Kenworthy 17. Sione Lousi

Coach: Kristian Woolf