It is last chance saloon for the Sunshine Coast Falcons and Redcliffe Dolphins, as the two sides meet at Dolphin Oval on Sunday in the Preliminary Final to decide who will take on the PNG Hunters in Sunday week’s Grand Final at Suncorp Stadium.

The match sees the season’s top two attacking sides in action, the Falcons were top with 647 points and Redcliffe the only other side to amass over 600, which puts the Hunters effort to keep them tryless last weekend into perspective.

Redcliffe though have a far more impressive defensive record than Falcons having conceded 84 less points during the season, and given finals football put an emphasis on defence more than any stage of the year, it may be a big advantage for Redcliffe.

It’s a hard one to pick, and it’s likely to be a close one, and worth tuning in for on Sunday. Or why not head over to Dolphin Oval and check out the new Grandstand.

 

LAST TIME OUT

The Sunshine Coast Falcons kept their 2017 season hopes alive by defeating their fellow Storm stable mate Easts Tigers in a thrilling game at Suzuki Stadium.

The Tigers went ahead early and took a lead of 14-6 to the break, but Man of the Match Jye Ballinger got the Falcons going in the second half with his second and third tries of the match, and by the 52nd minute were in front.

Easts levelled the game again six minutes later, but the Falcons score another quick double to grab the lead once again. The Tigers needed to score twice in the last 10 minutes to keep their season alive, but unfortunately could only get one in the 75th minute in an exciting finish.

Far less points, but no less tense was the Redcliffe Dolphins loss in Port Moresby. The visitors landed in PNG to hopefully continue the Hunters winless finals record, and things were looking good at half time when a pair of penalty goals gave them a lead of 4-0. Watching the highlights from the game, some of the goal line defence of the Hunters was sensational, reminiscent of their great performance against Townsville that proved they were finals ready.

Happily for the packed National Football Stadium the only try came in the second half for the home side, and to captain and Intrust Super Cup player of the year Ase Boas. With the conversion slotted the Hunters held on and prepared the entire nation for the Grand Final. Redcliffe have to dust themselves off and prepare to keep their Grand Finals hopes alive against the Sunshine Coast.

Read more:

PNG Hunters into Grand Final

Sunshine Coast Falcons v Easts Tigers

KEY BATTLE

With finals football in full swing, the key battle is in the forwards, with some mouth watering personal head to head throughout the pack.

First one is seeing Matthew Lodge and Tui Kamikamica taking on each other up the middle in the battle of the big props. Lodge has caught the eye in his return to rugby league from off field troubles that have seen him mentioned on Roy and HG, Kamikamica is a man mountain that will give him plenty to think about.

On the fringes is the Storm quality of Joe Stimson, and the experienced Dane Hogan up against the also experienced Troy Giess and Daniel Bridge. The extra found here will make the difference for the big men.

Sitting on the bench, is some real impact. Redcliffe’s Tyson Cleal and Myles Taueli bring plenty of power, and currently named on the bench for the Falcons in no less than last weekend’s hat trick hero Jye Ballinger.

Sunshine Coast seem to have the edge in the halves, where Redcliffe’s advantage seems to be in the three quarter line. But neither are likely to flourish without the hard yards being done by the forwards.

PLAYER TO WATCH

Guy Hamilton.

The Falcons Mr Fixit is currently named on the bench in the number 19 jumper, which means he is currently not even in the top 17.

Guy Hamilton was one of the best for the Falcons when they beat the Souths Logan Magpies in the first weekend of finals, and can play in the halves or fullback. He has been one of their best all season, filling in for either Jacks or Hughes when the NRL came a calling. But with Storm ready Ryley Jacks and Jahrome Hughes and the in form Scott Drinkwater ahead, there’s not much he can do.

So the player to watch may not even play, but if he does it means there has been a late withdrawal or a canny tactical shift.

PREDICTION

Redcliffe to bounce back from the loss in Port Moresby and get over the Falcons, just.

Redcliffe by 2.

2017 HEAD TO HEAD

It is one game a piece between the two sides this season, with the wins following the home sides.

R8 Redcliffe Dolphins 46 Sunshine Coast Falcons 28
R18 Sunshine Coast Falcons 28 Redcliffe Dolphins 24

COVERAGE DETAILS / KICK OFF

Game kicks off at 2:30pm on Sunday at Dolphin Oval, which is different to the usual 1:40pm.

Coverage will be on Channel 9 in Brisbane and affiliates around regional Queensland.

 

TEAMS

Redcliffe Dolphins

1. Zach Strasser 2. Jonus Pearson 3. Thompson Teteh 4. Moses Pangai 24. Curtis Johnston 6. Jack Ahearn 7. Christian Hazard 8. Nathan Watts 9. Shane Pumipi 10. Matthew Lodge 11. Daniel Bridge 12. Troy Giess 13. Sam Anderson (c) 14. Hugh Pratt 15. Tyson Cleal 16. Myles Taueli 17. Aaron Whitchurch

Coach: Adam Mogg

Sunshine Coast Falcons

1. Jahrome Hughes 2. Matthew Soper-Lawler 3. Justin Olam 4. Christopher Lewis 5. Jeremy Hawkins 6. Scott Drinkwater 7. Ryley Jacks 18. Tui Kamikamica 9. Brandon Smith 10. Lachlan Timm 11. Dane Hogan (c) 12. Joe Stimson 13. Harrison Muller 14. Alex Bishop 15. Jye Ballinger 16. Jon Grieve 17. Louis Geraghty 19. Guy Hamilton 20. Martin Cordwell

Coach: Craig Ingebrigtsen