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Top six settled in penultimate round

Round 24 provided most of the answers to the Intrust Super Cup finals picture, including the minor premiership, and the top six teams who will participate in the finals. The only thing that needs to be sorted is the order of third to fifth, which Wynnum and Ipswich hold the advantage of competition points, the Tigers – two points behind – have the superior for and against. So the prize of home ground advantage in week 1 of the finals for third and fourth goes to the final week of the season.

Down at the bottom of the table Souths Logan and Norths swapped places in 12th and 13th as the Magpies put an end to Central’s hopes of a second victory for the season at home. Norths meanwhile took their home to Bamaga, not far from Cape York, but were unable to beat the Pride.

As the pressure of finals football approaches, and the teams bottle is tested, this column unfortunately crumbled under the pressure with a paltry at best 1/6 correct tips.

The result of the weekend was the 28-28 draw between Mackay and the PNG Hunters, a result which helped neither side achieve their pre-game goal, but was entertaining none the less.

 

TOWNSVILLE BLACKHAWKS 20 def SUNSHINE COAST FALCONS 13 @ Sunshine Coast Stadium (H/T 6-7)

The Blackhawks came to the Sunshine Coast as heavy favourites for the Intrust super Cup’s opening clash of Round 24, but they were tested against the odds by a fast improving Falcons side  on Saturday afternoon. Townsville were chasing a win to almost guarantee them the minor premiership for 2015, and they eventually got the two points they required, but not after they trailed at half time to a Sunshine Coast side who have been the big improvers of this season.

After a tight twenty scoreless minutes, the visitors scored through Anthony Mitchell, and given some of the margins seen against the Blackhawks this year, you could be forgiven thinking the flood gates were about to be opened. None of that according to the Sunshine Coast, as they scored their first try just before half time, but still had enough time to land a field goal before the break and take an unlikely lead 7-6.

To further highlight that they weren’t around to give the Blackhawks an easy run, the Falcons scored first just after the break, and at 13-6 looked good to hold on in a low scoring game. But Townsville aren’t leading the competition for no reason, and scored two more tries (once just after the Flacons try and another just before full time), and all the remaining points to record a 20-13 victory.

At the time this result gave the Blackhawks the upper hand for the minor premiership, and with the Hunters drawing it virtually assured them of the top spot. Unless there is a 266 point turnaround next weekend. It could happen. It probably won’t against Townsville’s next opponent Redcliffe. Sunshine Coast finish their season in Ipswich.

 

MACKAY CUTTERS 28 drew PNG HUNTERS 28 @ Stadium Mackay (H/T 16-12)

A highly anticipated Intrust Super Cup clash ended in another draw as both Mackay and PNG Hunters were left slightly disappointed as the Hunters Minor Premiership hopes disappeared, and Mackay’s top 6 chances also went awry.

The first half was a see-sawing affair with tries alternating between the sides, Mackay scoring first and the Hunters replying with one of their own, then again with Mackay scoring and the Hunters replying at which stage the Hunters led 12-10. Mackay though had one more reply in them and took a 16-12 lead to the break.

The second half started off with more of the same as the Hunters replied to snatch the lead back 18-16. But then the home side broke the trend to score the next two tries and with 10 minutes to go had a handy 28-18 lead to defend.

Desperate to stay in the race for the minor premiership, the Hunters went into all out attack mode, and this produced the desired results are they scored twice to draw level 28-28. Noel Zemmings, whose goal kicking had got the Hunters out of trouble a few times this season, missed the conversion from the sideline and both teams shared a point and a missed opportunity.

The Hunters will now have to settle for second, unless there’s a 200+ point turnaround with Townsville. They have one more game in front of their fans against Burleigh next weekend in Port Moresby. Mackay finish their season against the Souths Logan Magpies.

 

SOUTHS LOGAN MAGPIES 22 def CENTRAL CAPRAS 12 @ Browne Park (H/T 10-6)

The Capras said farewell to their fans in Rockhampton for 2015, but not how they would have liked as their long search for a second win continues into the final round of the season. They took on the Souths Logan Mapgies, who themselves had lost a couple in a row, and had found themselves in second last spot just above the Capras after a few wins for Norths.

Souths Logan had the better of the first 40 minutes as they scored two tries to one, and held a 10-6 lead at half time. Not a good sign for the Central side, who have faded in the second half of a lot of games this year despite either leading or being very close at the break.

And so it proved in the second half as the Magpies got the jump on the Capras with two tries in 13 minutes to hold the upper hand at 22-6. Central managed to get one try back before full time, but it wasn’t enough to avoid another loss.

It will be no easier for Central in the last week of the year, as a trip to Cairns to take on the Northern Pride awaits. Souths Logan take their last home game of the season to the suburban ground of Acacia Ridge, making it 30 different grounds used in the Intrust Super Cup in 2015.

 

NORTHERN PRIDE 26 def NORTHS DEVILS 10 @ Bamaga FNQ (H/T 6-4)

There was plenty of north about this week’s most remote clash as the Norths Devils took on the Northern Pride in Bamaga, just 20km from Australia’s most northern point – Cape York.

The Devils were on a high coming into this game after two straight wins had seen them move away from second last position, and expectations could have been lifted by the fact that the Pride had lost both games when a Brisbane side has played them in FNQ. But it wasn’t to be for the Devils as the Pride who had a finals spot on the line were far too strong.

Norths were in the game at half time as each side scored a try, and it was the Pride’s conversion that was the only difference at the break. After the break the Pride flexed their muscles and showed why they are the reigning premiers with the first three tries after the interval to build a lead of 20-4. Although the Devils got one back, the Pride also had another up their sleeve, and the comfortable 26-10 win confirms them as the finals side to qualify for the finals.

The Pride had to win to win one of their last two games to confirm finals football, and with one win down they’ll be hoping for another to build momentum for the finals against Central on Saturday evening. Norths get one more home game at Bishop Park to finish off 2015 and they will face the Tweed Heads Seagulls.

 

IPSWICH JETS 34 def TWEED HEADS 12 @ Piggabeen (H/T 20-6)

Ipswich snapped a losing streak and returned to form with a commanding victory over the Tweed Heads Seagulls which keeps them in the box seat for third or fourth and home ground advantage in week one of the finals.

Three tries to speed machine Marmin Barba were one of the highlights of the game, as the Jets took control of the game halfway through the first half after both teams had a try a piece early. By the 28th minute the Jets led 18-6, and another try before the break and a further two after gave them a 30-6 lead they looked unlikely to lose.

Tweed Heads did get on the scoreboard one more time before the day was out, but so did the Jets, and the 34-12 win sent everyone a reminder of their powers for the finals series ahead.

Ipswich finish their season by welcoming the Sunshine Coast on Saturday afternoon, Tweed Heads travel to Norths for their last game.

 

EASTS TIGERS 32 REDCLIFFE DOLPHINS 22 @ Dolphin Oval (H/T 16-4)

Redcliffe’s finals hopes came to an end at Dolphin Oval on Sunday, but the Easts Tigers season looks to be going from strength to strength as they were impressive in beating a Redcliffe side which had been in great form recently and who were desperate to stay in the hunt for a finals berth.

In a tough and sometimes feisty affair in the first half, it appeared that a full scale royal rumble could break out at any time in parts as both sides showed plenty of aggression. It didn’t and the scoring started with the Tigers with a try in the corner, and a conversion with a swirling wind akin a long sloping putt was some sight.

Redcliffe replied in the 18th minute after some razzle dazzle in their in goal eventually took them to the other end of the park, and after capitalising on a Tigers error scored to make it 6-4. Redcliffe then returned the favour as an error of their own led to the Tigers second through Mahe Fonua.

The next part was all Redcliffe who got repeat sets, and penalties to help them camp in the opposition’s 20 for large chunk of the next five minutes. But what usually happens when one side has all the ball but doesn’t score, happened, as the Tigers made the most of their opportunity to skip out to a 16-4 through some class from man of the match Shaun Nona. The end of the half was breathless as Redcliffe almost scored followed by a near miss for the Tigers, who held a deserved half time lead.

The game, and Redcliffe’s season was put to bed very quickly into the second half as two quick tries to Easts, one courtesy of the best A Grade bounce from a chip kick ever seen, saw a 28-4 lead to the Tigers which on current defensive form would be very hard to chase down. The game lost a little bit of fizz from that point as the home side may have saw their chance at finals football fade for 2015., but they never gave up and a try to the Dolphins gave them hope at 28-10, but a reply from the Tigers snuffed out that comeback, and only a completed hat trick for the Dolphins fullback Marlon Doak gave them something to cheer about.

Redcliffe will rue their late season charge not starting earlier, and can prove what might have been against the Blackhawks next weekend. Easts meanwhile can climb as high as third next weekend, and have their local geographic and finals spot rivals Wynnum Manly at Tapout Energy Stadium for a showdown for pride and a home final.

A full match report can be found courtesy of Nothing But League’s Matt Crowhurst at http://thetigers.com.au/match-review-dolphins-v-tigers/

 

 

 

 

 

 

TOWNSVILLE BLACKHAWKS 20 (Zac Santo, Anthony Mitchell, Kelepi Tanginoa, Rhyse Martin tries; Robert Lui 2 goals) def SUNSHINE COAST FALCONS 13 (Ben Hampton, Jacob Samoa tries; David Oakes 2 goals; Ben Hampton field goal) at Sunshine Coast Stadium.

MACKAY CUTTERS 28 (Josh Chudleigh 2, Jordan Pereira, Andrew Gay, Matthew Wright tries; Liam Taylor 4 goals) drew with PNG HUNTERS 28 (Stargroth Amean, Thompson Teteh, Adex Wera, Atte Bina, Nickson Borana tries; Noel Zeming 4 goals) at Stadium Mackay.

SOUTHS LOGAN MAGPIES 22 (Jack Joass, Ben Jackson, Tikiko Noke, Jack Walters tries; Scott Doyle 3 goals) def CQ CAPRAS 12 (Jake Ainsworth, Gerard Tema tries; Ian Webster 2 goals) at Browne Park.

EASTS TIGERS 32 (Mahe Fonua, Richard Kennar, Shaun Nona, Brentt Warr, Jake Foster, Dayne Weston tries; Shaun Nona 4 goals) def REDCLIFFE DOLPHINS 22 (Marlon Doak 3, Aaron Whitchurch tries; Luke Capewell 3 goals) at Dolphin Oval.

IPSWICH JETS 34 (Marmin Barba 3, Richard Pandia 2, Brandon McGrady tries; Carlin Anderson 5 goals) def TWEED HEADS SEAGULLS 12 (Shaun Carney, Jai Ingram tries; Jamal Fogarty 2 goals) at Piggabeens Sports.

NORTHERN PRIDE 26 (Linc Port 2, Justin Castellaro, Sam Obst, Vaipuna Tia-Kilifi, Tom Hancock tries; Justin Castellaro goal) def NORTHS 10 (Michael Lucas, Rogan Dean tries; Liam Tyson goal) at Yusia Ginau Oval, Bamaga.

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