A golden ticket straight to the Intrust Super Cup Grand Final is on offer this Saturday at Dolphin Oval as Redcliffe Dolphins take on the Burleigh Bears.
The first and second placed teams from the regular season meet fresh from a week off last weekend as the first two teams were eliminated from the Finals Series.
Plenty to play for then, a Grand Final berth no less.
HOW DID THEY GET HERE?
Redcliffe and Burleigh were locked in a three-way battle with the Townsville Blackhawks throughout the second half of the season for the top two, the order changed throughout the final months. Eventually it all came down to Round 22 and 23 in which the Blackhawks played both the Dolphins and Bears, and Townsville came away winless from both.
Redcliffe lost just once and drew once from Round 15, and secured the most points in the second half of the season. Burleigh didn’t quite have as prolific a second half of the season, but the early front-runners of the competition did finish the season off with four straight wins, including a last round thrashing of Easts at Suzuki Stadium.
In the end, Redcliffe pipped Burleigh to the Minor Premiership and home ground advantage for this match by one point, but that means nothing on Saturday.
2018 SEASON PERFORMANCE
REDCLIFFE – 1st – W16 – D1 – L6 – For 600pts (Best) – Against 382pts (2nd)
BURLEIGH – 2nd – W16 – L7 – For 589pts (2nd Best) – Against 427pts (5th)
WHAT TO LOOK FORWARD TO
This game is actually a replay of the 2016 Intrust Super Cup Grand Final, and a point of interest is that the man who led the Bears to victory that day – Cameron Cullen – has returned to Redcliffe to spear head a reverse. In 2016 the Bears faced the same challenge of attempting to beat minor premiers Redcliffe at Dolphin Oval in this exact game, but will need to reverse the trend of home winners from match up between these two sides in 2018.
If the game is anything like the Round 18 clash at Redcliffe then fans are in for a real treat. That day Burleigh jumped out to a sizeable lead, before Redcliffe came back and flew past to secure a great victory over the then competition leaders.
There will be plenty of the tough stuff up the middle, with two of the competition’s finest props going head to head to inspire their teams. Redcliffe’s Sam Anderson and Burleigh’s PNG International Luke Page lead impressive packs, firebrand Page was one of the Bears best in the 2016 Grand Final win. There’s also a sprinkling of NRL experience, Blake Leary for the Bears being the most interesting.
Hopefully that lets the two star halfbacks weave some magic and put plenty of points on the board in the same style as the earlier clash.
2018 HEAD TO HEAD
R2 BURLEIGH BEARS 25 Redcliffe Dolphins 12
R18 REDCLIFFE DOLPHINS 40 Burleigh Bears 28
PLAYERS TO WATCH
As fun as it will be to watch the previously mentioned props go head to head, the players to watch have to be the two halfbacks – Cameron Cullen for Redcliffe, and Jamal Fogarty for Burleigh. The two were the halves for Burleigh in their recent premiership season.
Both have tread similar paths in recent seasons – they both headed south for a chance at the NRL. Fogarty went to Parramatta, and returned to Burleigh late last season, Cullen went to Manly and played a handful of games for the Sea Eagles in 2017, and came back to Redcliffe for this season where he played in 2014.
Cullen and Fogarty are both tremendous players, capable of turning a match to their favour, one wonders if the Fogarty-Politoni combination could give Burleigh a small advantage.
One game a piece this season, one point separating them after 24 rounds, so there’s not much in it. The one loss (Ipswich) and one draw (Mackay) for Redcliffe from Round 15 did come at home, so there is a slight chink in the armour that Burleigh can exploit, but Redcliffe still looks the goods to go straight to the Grand Final.
Redcliffe by 4
LIVE STREAM AVAILABLE
It may not be the Channel Nine game – but you can watch for free, Hats off to the QRL.
1. Trai Fuller 2. Josh Beehag 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Tom Opacic 5. Jeremy Hawkins 6. Bryce Donovan 7. Cameron Cullen (c) 8. Nick Slyney 17. Hugh Pratt 10. Sam Anderson 14. Myles Taueli 12. Aaron Whitchurch 24. Jamil Hopoate 9. Jake Turpin 15. James Taylor 16. Tom Geraghty 19. Scott Schulte
Coach: Adam Mogg
1. Kurtis Rowe 2. Troy Leo 3. Sami Sauiluma 4. Joshua Berkers 5. Henare Wells 6. Jamie Dowling 7. Jamal Fogarty 8. Luke Page (c) 9. Pat Politoni 10. Matt White 11. Blake Leary 12. Hayden Schwass 13. Sam Coster 14. Jeff Lynch 15. Kai O’Donnell 17. Jai Whitbread 18. Jess Savage