With State of Origin done and dusted for another yer, it is time to get into finals mode and with Intrust Super Super Round 18 on the menu this weekend, it is the start of the business end of the season.
The race for first place looks like it will rage until the last weekend, with the lead changing every week, and as we head into Intrust Super Super Round 18 there are three teams locked on the same points at the top. Happily, two of three teams play for us this weekend, as Redcliffe take on Burleigh.
Elsewhere, with the battle for the lower reaches of the top six, every game is important, and who knows what the order of that midfield pack separated by two points will look like at the end of the weekend.
Find out who could be the moves and shakers this weekend with a quick preview of Intrust Super Super Round 18
HIGH FLYERS MEET AT DOLPHIN OVAL
For a rare occasion in the 2018 Intrust Super Cup season, the TV game is the game of the round, with a clash featuring two of the three teams at the top of the competition with 22 points. Both are behind the Townsville Blackhawks on points difference.
Burleigh dropped from 1st to 3rd with their loss last weekend to the Norths Devils, and their home form is becoming a concern. Luckily they are on the road this weekend at a ground where they have had some success recently. Redcliffe got two points in Port Moresby last weekend, a first for them in PNG, and a very good victory if they want to be serious title challengers in 2018.
The winner of this replay of the 2016 Grand Final could find themselves on top of the competition outright, and if nothing else should be a great clash of two of the most successful Intrust Super Cup teams.
NRL QUALITY ON SHOW IN TOWNSVILLE
Saturday’s clash at Jack Manski Oval should be a ripper, two sides full of backline talent, and Townsville in good form having retaken the lead of the competition last weekend, and the Jets thriving in Mackay with a huge 54-0 win.
There’s a lot of ex NRL talent on show in this match, and quite a few who should have played NRL by now, but probably will never get the chance. Townsville feature names like former Origin player Justin O’Neill and NRL regulars Kalifa Faifai-Loa, Zach Clay, Jaelen Feeney and Jake Marketo, but it is the names who have yet to get a proper crack at the NRL that excites more.
Names like Michael Purcell, who scored a hat trick last weekend and will probably always viewed as too small for the NRL, Carlin Anderson who has recently returned from injury, Zac Santo, Marmin Barba, Billy McConachie, Rod Griffin all should have an extended go at the NRL. But these are the types of player who excel in the second tier, and never seem to get that chance. Are they up for it, in all players mentioned before it is a yes. A list like it proves that the NRL could certainly handle another couple of teams talent wise.
HUNTERS CAN’T AFFORD ANY MORE SLIP UPS AT HOME IF THEY WANT TO PLAY FINALS
Given how poor the PNG Hunters have been on the road in 2018, it is getting to the stage where the Hunters can’t afford to lose anymore games in the National Stadium.
Easier said than done with the arrival of the Northern Pride this weekend. A team that are going well in fourth on the ladder, but a side who have already beaten the Hunters this season. Although the Pride did suffer a defeat at the hands of Easts at Suzuki Stadium, which strangely was their second loss at the ground this season, after moving a weather affected clash against Wynnum there.
There are many theories to how the Hunters can improve, there is a call for more taller, bigger forward, which after the defeat by Redcliffe you could argue for, but it is not that easy to simply add size quickly. Although you do have to question why the need for so many backs on the bench. The side certainly benefits from a little experience back with Ase Boas and Adex Wera, but they must boost the bench with some big, mobile forwards.
The Pride will dust themselves off after a rare loss last weekend, and will give the Hunters a real fight in Port Moresby this weekend. They currently sit just two points behind the trio of leaders thanks to the season’s longest winning streak.
AROUND THE GROUNDS
A good match up at Bishop Park sees Norths welcome the Central Capras, and both sides coming into the game on the back of impressive back to back wins. Both sides have coincidentally beaten the Souths Logan Magpies in consecutive weeks. Norths are back in the Top 6, and Central are now four points and a healthy points difference away from last placed Mackay.
Mackay welcome the Easts Tigers and will be hoping that they can improve on the 54-0 drubbing at the hands of Ipswich. The heavy loss, and the previous week’s loss to their nearest contender for the great prize, leaves the Cutters basically being hoping for a miracle of a sudden surge in
A battle of the birds at Piggabeen, and the visitors Souths Logan really need a win. Somehow they are holding onto sixth place despite five losses in a row, ut that won’t last if the Tweed Heads Seagulls bounce back from the Flockbuster loss at home. The seagulls current -81 points difference could prove critical for finals with such a tight pack of teams chasing a finals berth, so will need to improve that as well as win.
Another battle of the birds on the Sunshine Coast this time, and the home side have got a reality check following defeats in Port Moresby and Townsville, prior to that they were one of the form sides in the competition, even beating then leaders Burleigh. Wynnum had a good win on Stradbroke Island last weekend, and they have quite a good record on the road.
Redcliffe Dolphins v Burleigh Bears at Dolphin Stadium, Saturday, July 14 – 1.10pm
Townsville Blackhawks v Ipswich Jets at Jack Manski Oval, Saturday, July 14 – 5pm
Norths Devils v CQ Capras at Bishop Park, Saturday, July 14 – 5pm
Mackay Cutters v Easts Tigers at BB Print Stadium Mackay, Saturday, July 14 – 6pm
Tweed Heads Seagulls v Souths Logan Magpies at Piggabeen Sports Complex, Sunday, July 15 – 2.15pm
PNG Hunters v Northern Pride at National Football Stadium, Sunday, July 15 – 3pm
Sunshine Coast Falcons v Wynnum Manly Seagulls at Sunshine Coast Stadium, Sunday, July 15 – 3pm
BRENDAN O’FARRELL – CEO INTRUST SUPER
TWEED HEADS SEAGULLS
SUNSHINE COAST FALCONS
ADRIAN VOWLES – FOG
TWEED HEADS SEAGULLS
This week’s teams are on the next page