Finals come early for Country Week

It’s the Intrust Super Cup’s week of spreading the message of rugby league across Queensland as Round 23 becomes Get in the Game Country Week. The annual trip to the outposts features 7 games, six in regional centres all over Queensland, and one in the big smoke of Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea.

It is a wonderful idea of taking the football to the grassroots, and certainly something the NRL could afford to do once a year, if it were interested in grassroots instead of the dollar. In fact, before country week the Intrust Super Cup has already graced the locations of Miriam Vale, Gladstone, Thornlands, Cherbourg, Stradbroke Island, and Tully. And with Bamaga and Acacia Ridge to come, the Intrust Super Cup will visit almost 30 different locations throughout the season.

The timing of the Country week couldn’t be much better with the top four sides all playing each other just three weeks before the finals start. Townsville welcome Ipswich in the clash of 1st v 4th, and Wynnum have the unenviable task of playing the Hunters in Port Moresby. Elsewhere there’s the battle for the final top 6 spots, none much more important than Redcliffe v Northern Pride, a game Redcliffe must win to stay in the finals race.

All the other games will be important in their own right, as they will be played for the communities around Queensland who get a taste of the good times this weekend.

Here’s the ladder.

TOWNSVILLE BLACKHAWKS – 37 Points (F/A +468), PNG HUNTERS 37 (+188), WYNNUM MANLY 32 (+199), IPSWICH 32 (+166), EASTS 28 (+199), NORTHERN PRIDE 28 (+40), MACKAY 24 (+76), REDCLIFFE 23 (+123), BURLEIGH 20 (-255), TWEED HEADS 19 (-75), SUNSHINE COAST 19 (-137), SOUTHS LOGAN 15 (-180), NORTHS 14 (-302), CENTRAL 6 (-510).


Townsville Blackhawks v Ipswich Jets at Bill Lewis Oval, Charters Towers on Saturday, August 15 – 5pm

Country Week kicks off with a high quality fixture between 1st and 4th in Charters Towers, Townsville have been close to invincible this season, but one of the only two teams to beat them are this week’s opponents the Jets.

That was Round 2, and in Ipswich, this week is just a mere 140km from their home base in Townsville.

That said, the Blackhawks record against the top 5 this year has been less than perfect, with losses to PNG and a draw against Easts some of the results that haven’t gone their way so far.

Different fortunes for these teams last weekend, as Townsville easily accounted for Tweed Heads, whilst Ipswich would have been disappointed with the outcome of their loss to the Hunters, which was a tremendous game of rugby league – and you can read the report here.

You would think that Ipswich will improve on that performance, and given the Blackhawks results against the least predictable sides of the competition this season, a Country Week upset is a big possibility in Charters Towers.

Prediction: Ipswich by 4
This Year: Ipswich 36 Townsville 24
Odds: Townsville $1.20 Ipswich $4.50


Townsville Blackhawks: 1. Jahrome Hughes 2. Zac Santo 3. Tom Humble 4. Kyle Feldt 5. Samsen O’Neill 6. Robert Lui 7. Michael Parker-Walshe 8. Ricky Thorby 9. Anthony Mitchell 10. Daniel Beasley (c) 11. Glenn Hall 12. Kelepi Tanginoa 13. Neville Costigan 14. Ray Thompson 15. Chris McLean 16. Lorenzo Ma’afu 17. Rhyse Martin

Coach: Kristian Woolf

Ipswich Jets: 1. Carlin Anderson 2. Marmin Barba 3. Chris Walker 4. Nemani Valekapa 5. Brandon McGrady 6. Josh Cleeland 7. Dane Phillips (c) 8. Josh Seage 9. Matt Parcell 10. Rod Griffin 11. TBA 12. Kurt Capewell 13. Richard Pandia 14. Landon Hayes 15. Kurtis Lingwoodock 16. Billy McConnachie 17. Liam Capewell

Coach: Ben Walker and Shane Walker


CQ Capras v Tweed Heads Seagulls at Salter Oval, Bundaberg on Saturday, August 15 – 6.30pm

Central are starting to run out of chances to add to their only win of the year in Round 1. Despite several incorrect predictions of that elusive turnaround, there’s the feeling that this weekend will be the one.

The home of Rum plays hosts to the Capras and Seagulls this weekend, and maybe the change in location can bring a change in fortune for the Capras.

Central have been competitive this year, and especially in the first half where they have pushed a lot of sides in the first 40 minutes, but need to find that magic in the second 40 minutes if they are to get that second win.

Tweed Heads have been less effective this season away from Piggabeen, as they have only won twice in nine attempts on the road this year. One of those importantly was against the Capras. But that was in Rockhampton, and this is in Bundaberg.

Prediction: Central by 10
Last Year: Central 12 Tweed Heads 42
Odds: Central $5.25 Tweed Heads $1.16


CQ Capras: 1. Reece Baker 2. Jake Ainsworth 3. Marco Delapena 4. Sam Smith 5. Ha’Ofanga Rabakewa 6. Matt Minto 7. Mark Johnstone 8. Gerard Tema 9. Ian Webster 10. Gavin Hiscox 11. Tyson White 12. Rajan Opetaia-Halls 13. Guy Williams (c) 14. Josh Mitchell 15. Nathan Young 16. Josh Johnston 17. Corbyn Kilday

Coach: Lionel Harbin

Tweed Heads Seagulls: 1. Ali Grant 2. Nathanael Barnes 3. James Wood (c) 4. Shaun Carney 5. Leva Li 6. Jamal Fogarty 7. Sam Foster 8. Will Bugden 9. Sam Meskell 10. Ethan Price 11. Matt Robinson 12. Blake Anderson 13. Sam Saville 14. Ricardo Parata 15. Anthony Colman 16. Dane Clarke 17. Jai Ingram

Coach: Aaron Zimmerle


Easts Tigers v Souths Logan Magpies at Blackall Showgrounds on Saturday, August 15 – 7pm

The Tigers have comfortably settled inside the Top 6 and will no doubt be a side that no one will look forward to playing in the Intrust Super Cup finals. As long as the game isn’t in north Queensland.

The Souths Logan Magpies have really dropped off in the last few weeks with three straight losses, and with the Devils just one point away they will be keen to get back into the winner’s circle to avoid dropping to unlucky 13th.

Both sides travel to Blackall, a mere 1 hour 50 minutes flight from Brisbane, and a very unlikely place to see a top grade rugby league game, which is the beauty of country week. The Magpies will be used to travelling though, as they have moved four of their home games around the state so far this year with mixed success.

Easts tend to be very ruthless against the lower ranked sides this season however, and the Magpies might just be the poor innocent bystanders again this weekend.

Prediction: Easts by 30
This Year: Easts 52 Souths Logan 0
Last Year: Easts 28 Souths Logan 24
Odds: Easts $1.18 Souths Logan $4.85


Easts Tigers: 1. Donald Malone 2. Richard Kennar 3. Shane Neumann 4. Mahe Fonua 5. Brandon Downey 6. Shaun Nona 19. Brentt Warr 8. Dayne Weston 9. Tommy Butterfield 10. Liam McDonald 11. Dane Hogan (c) 12. Jake Foster 13. Troy Giess 14. Mathew Pitman 15. Matthew Zgrajewski 16. Francis Tualau 17. Billy Walters

Coach: Craig Ingebrigtsen

Souths Logan Magpies: 1. Josh Bowen-Bowyer 2. Mitchell Hallinan 3. Scott Doyle 4. Tim Brooks 5. David Pritchard 6. Jack Joass 7. Rhys Jacks 8. Tikiko Noke 9. Travis Waddell 10. Andrew Edwards 11. Joe Boyce 12. Daniel Tamou 13. Phil Dennis (c) 14. Ben Thorburn 15. Aotealofa Tuimavave 16. Sam Gardel 17. Leon Panapa 18. Jack Anderson 19. Ihaka Watene

Coach: Josh Hannay


Norths Devils v Mackay Cutters at Dalby Leagues Ground on Saturday, August 15 – 7pm

The Devils got a much needed morale boosting win against Central two weeks ago before last weekend’s bye, and instead of battling to avoid the wooden spoon, they can now look up as they are just one point off Souths Logan.

Mackay have now lost three in a row, and as a result have dropped out of the top 6, and the four point gap looks a long way off on current results. But their for and against is currently better than the Pride’s so an unbeaten end to the year may just get them over the line, so they have plenty to play for.

However, that losing run is hard to shake off, and the extra trip to Dalby goes against them, so why not Norths in a Country Week upset.

Prediction: Norths by 6
This Year: Mackay 13 Norths 12
Last Year: Norths 30 Mackay 10
Odds: Norths $4.00 Mackay $1.25


Norths Devils: 1. Luke Pollock 2. Michael Lucas 3. Joel Bailey 4. Ryan Millard 5. Rogan Dean 6. Dan Murphy 7. Liam Tyson 8. Matt Mizzi 9. Byron Creighton 10. Billy Solah 11. Kristian Wanka 12. Brett Greinke (c) 13. Krys Freeman 14. Will McNee 16. Rhett Webster 20. Dylan Smith 17. Josh Afoa

Coach: Mark Gliddon

Mackay Cutters: 1. Sam Clune 2. Jordan Pereira 3. Ben Jones 4. Justin Tavae 5. Buchanan Rawhiti 6. Cameron Cullen 7. Liam Taylor 8. Sam Hoare 9. Josh Chudleigh 10. Brad Lupi 11. Brenden Treston 12. Chris Gesch (c) 13. Steve Rapira 14. Aleki Falepaini 17. Tyson Martin 18. Joss Boyton 19. Ryan Kinlyside 20. Pulou Vaituutuu 16. Josh Osborne

Coach: Kim Williams


Sunshine Coast Falcons v Burleigh Bears at Sullivan Oval, Stanthorpe on Sunday, August 16 – 1.40pm

The Sunshine Coast Falcons appear to be the darlings of the TV game of the Intrust Super Cup at the moment, with a second straight game in front of the Channel 9 viewers, this time in the Granite Belt town of Stanthorpe. The game should provide the most interest from South East Queensland media since the great snow hunt of July 2015.

You can’t blame them of course, as the Falcons are in season best form with only a narrow loss to the Hunters in PNG (looking like a better result with each week) the only blemish in the past four games. Some progress indeed after just the one win last year.

Burleigh however have had a horror second half of the season, with several large losses seeing them drop out of finals contention.

The only white stuff on the ground in Stanthorpe this weekend will be the line markings, of another quality  game in the Country Week round.

Prediction: Sunshine Coast by 8
This Year: Burleigh 28 Sunshine Coast 12
Last Year: Sunshine Coast 6 Burleigh 30
Odds: Sunshine Coast $1.25 Burleigh $4.00


Sunshine Coast Falcons: 1. Sam Wright 2. Rowan Klein 3. Young Tonumaipea 4. Hymel Hunt 5. Travis Robinson 6. Ben Hampton 7. David Oakes 17. Jordan McLean 9. Billy Brittain 10. Ryan Hansen 11. Paul Ivan 12. Jaz Nahu-Main 13. Tom Murphy (c) 14. Jay Lobwein 15. Johnny Vuetibau 16. Mboya Adams 18. Jacob Samoa 19. Jye Ballinger 20. Jon Platt

Coach: Glen Dreger

Burleigh Bears: 1. Talor Walters 2. Kevin Gordon 3. Jamie Dowling 4. Connor Broadhurst 5. Dimitri Pelo 6. Todd Seymour 7. Ryley Jacks 8. Nathaniel Peteru 9. Chad Redman 10. Pele Peletelese 11. Tyron Haynes 12. Ayden Lee 13. Darren Griffiths (c) 14. Nafe Seluini 15. Louie Fanene 16. Mitch Sharp 17. Josh Ailaomai

Coach: Jim Lenihan


Redcliffe Dolphins v Northern Pride at Callendar Park, Innisfail on Sunday, August 16 – 2pm

The equation for Redcliffe is simple, they must win to stay in the race for the finals. Given their recent turnaround in form, they may well regret that run coming too late in the season.

The Dolphins have had some big wins of late, against Burleigh, Mackay and Souths Logan, but all they need is to be the Pride by any margin this weekend, who will be very keen to stop them as a win here will stop virtually any other side making the top 6.

The Pride have been handed some favour, with the Country Week game being played 1500km from Dolphin Oval and less than 100km from Cairns. But the last time they were handed such an advantage was against the Magpies in Tully, and that went the way of Souths Logan.

Redcliffe have the most to play for, and therefore may just sneak home, but the last games have only been decided by 2 points, so either way you can imagine it will be close.

Prediction: Redcliffe by 2
This Year: Pride 18 Redcliffe 16
Last Year: Redcliffe 22 Pride 24
Odds: Redcliffe $2.60 Pride $1.50


Redcliffe Dolphins:  1. Marlon Doak 2. Josh Beehag 3. Tom Opacic 4. Aaron Whitchurch 5. Curtis Johnston 6. John Brady 7. Luke Capewell (c) 8. Charlie Faingaa 9. Darcy Etrich 10. Jon Green 11. Nick Ritter 12. Harley Aiono 13. Tyson Cleal 14. Shane Pumipi 15. Joe Bradley 16. Tom Geraghty 19. Taylor Brown

Coach: Troy Lindsay

Northern Pride: 1. Hezron Murgha 2. Linc Port 3. Brett Anderson (c) 4. Justin Castellaro 5. Javid Bowen 6. Ryan Ghietti 7. Sam Obst 8. Jack Svendsen 9. Jason Roos (c) 10. Patrick Kaufusi 11. Tom Hancock 12. Graham Clark 13. Ben Spina 14. Keelan White 15. Brent Oosen 16. Sheldon Powe-Hobbs 17. David Murphy

Coach: Joe O’Callaghan


PNG Hunters v Wynnum Manly Seagulls at Sir John Guise Stadium, Port Moresby on Sunday, August 16 – 2.30pm 

The last time the Hunters played in Port Moresby they had the best rugby league crowd in the southern hemisphere that weekend, beating all games in the NRL. That was back in Round 14 in June, and the Hunters had been on a six game winning run, and have been unbeaten since. Their last loss was back in Round 6, and was against this week’s opponent Wynnum Manly.

The PNG Hunters have since moved into second, equal on points with the Townsville Blackhawks and five points ahead of Wynnum. A win here will guarantee them a top 2 finish. A sign of how things have changed since Round 6 is the lop sided odds on favour for this clash.

One can only imagine what kind of atmosphere awaits the players in Port Moresby on Sunday afternoon, given the hype surrounding the Hunters, and side you would think any side would be overawed. But the Seagulls are a hardened side with loads of finals experience, so the atmosphere shouldn’t worry them as much. The recent form of the Hunters, who have beaten all the sides in the top 6 of late, is something that should.

Prediction: PNG by 16
This Year: Wynnum 36 PNG 18
Last Year: PNG 32 Wynnum 22
Odds: PNG $1.33 Wynnum $3.30


PNG Hunters: 1. Stargroth Amean 2. Oti Bland Tony 3. Noel Zeming 4. Edward Goma 5. Adex Wera 6. Israel Eliab (c) 7. Ase Boas 8. Henry Noki 9. Wartovo Puara 10. Esau Siune 11. Timothy Lomai 12. Kato Ottio 13. Adam Korave 14. Lawrence Tu’u 15. Atte Bina        16. Willie Minoga 17. Enock Maki 18.  Thompson Teteh 19. Brandy Peter

Coach: Michael Marum

Wynnum Manly Seagulls: 1. Patrick Templeman 2. Peter Gubb 3. Matthew Grieve 4. Mitchell Buckett 5. Greg Eden 6. Matt Smith 7. Mathew Seamark 8. Ben Shea 9. Alehana Mara 10. Tim Natusch (c) 11. Aaron Rockley 12. Brendon Gibb 13. Mitchell Frei 14. John Te Reo 15. Jon Grieve 16. Stephen Coombe 17. Tanu Wulf 18. Brad Mana

Coach: Jon Buchanan



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