The 2018 Intrust Super Cup Country Week has been completed, and from all reports it was another successful weekend, with seven great games across Queensland, and for the first time in Lae, Papua New Guinea.
Despite all the side interest in the different locations, there was still a critical round of the season to play out, and by the end of the 2018 Intrust Super Cup Country Week, there is a new competition leader again in the Townsville Blackhawks, who jump ahead of Redcliffe on points difference after a big win over Tweed Heads with Burleigh hot on their heels.
Souths Logan and Easts both lost, opening the door for the four other teams two points behind them to take advantage, and two teams did in the Sunshine Coast Falcons and PNG Hunters. That means there are now four teams on equal points for sixth place.
In between there’s the two Northern sides – Devils and Pride – looking upward or over their shoulder depending on the weekly result.
No change at the bottom except Wynnum kept themselves in the finals hunt mathematically for one more week.
Onwards then, for a brief look at the best of 2018 Intrust Super Cup Country Week.
PHOTO FINISH BETWEEN DOLPHINS AND EASTS IN HOME OF GUNSYND
Games between Redcliffe and Easts rarely have much in them, and the Intrust Super Cup Country Week’s TV game between the Dolphins and Tigers in Goondiwindi proving another tight but entertaining game.
The competition leading Dolphins scored first through Scott Schulte in the 14th minute, the first of his two for the day, but Easts replied soon enough with their first try in the 25th minute through former NZ Warrior Albert Vete. Scott Schulte scored his second in the 29th minute to wrap up the first half with a 12-4 advantage for Redcliffe.
Easts were first to score after just after half-time through the NRL worthy fullback Scott Drinkwater, and with the missed conversion it was a four point gap. Redcliffe extended that yet again in the 60th minute through a flying occasional Bronco Jonus Pearson, who caught the cross field kick perfectly. Redcliffe led 16-8 and Easts tried very hard to reduce that gap, however some timely errors halted any momentum.
Until the 75th minute that is, when Jarrod McInally scored in the corner and NRL Storm off-cut Brodie Croft converted to set up a tense finish with the score 16-14. And a tense finish is exactly what happened, as the game went down to the final play with a potentially match winning run down the right from the Tiger’s Linc Port on the last tackle being stopped only a few metres short by a great tackle from Tom Opacic in the final play of the game. It was an entertaining end to an entertaining game, one that both sides will feel confident could happen again in September.
PNG International Tommy Butterfield returned for the Tigers, and his return may give the Tigers that little extra edge to push them into the finals and beyond in 2018.
A SPOONFUL OF SECOND HALF MAGIC HELPS THE CAPRAS GO DOWN
Despite an awful pun based on host town Maryborough being the home of Mary Poppins, the Burleigh bears did indeed come from behind to defeat a plucky Central Capras side in their Country Week clash.
After the Central Capras trailed 36-0 at half time last weekend against, they got off on the right foot on Saturday afternoon by leading 8-0 at half time themselves after tries in the 13th and 21st minute, and being able to keep the high-flying Bears scoreless, even with the returning star halfback Jamal Fogarty.
The second half saw Burleigh hit their stride, with two sets of two tries in five minutes burst to overcome the Capras. The first burst came not long after half time in the 47th minute, and was followed up by the first of Sami Sauiluma’s double five minutes later. In between the Burleigh centre’s double was a reply from the Capras. Similar to their earlier clash this season, the Capras hit the front during the second half with a 58th minute try to Maipele Morseau.
Sadly for Central, similar to their earlier clash this season they couldn’t hang on for victory, as Burleigh scored in the 63rd and 68th minutes to wrap up the two competition points, and stay in touch with Redcliffe at the top.
NORTHERN PRIDE THE LATE BLOOMER AGAINST JETS IN COOKTOWN
For the second time in two weeks the Ipswich Jets let a half-time lead slip away against a top side, as this time they allowed a 18-4 advantage be eaten away by the Northern Pride in their 2018 Intrust Super Cup Country Week clash in Cooktown.
One of their speedsters in Marmin Barba crossed early in the 2nd minute, and despite Pride hitting back in the 9th minute, Ipswich scored twice more in the first-half, one right on half-time to try scoring machine Michael Purcell, the first of his two for the day.
The 18-4 half-time lead didn’t last long, and the lead itself evaporated very quickly as the Pride started quickly in the second half. By the 51st minute they had scored three tries, and taken the lead. By the 73rd minute winger Jonico Hardwick had scored two more tries, and the Pride had completed the comeback. There was time for one more Michael Purcell try, but no more.
It was return to winning ways for the Pride, who had lost their previous two, and a loss here would have them in danger of joining the hungry pack for scraps of the top six, rather than playing for a home final in week one (for teams three and four). Ipswich were one of those hungry sides, and failed to take advantage of both team two ahead of them losing on Saturday.
TOWNSVILLE RETAKE THE COMPETITION LEAD AND ALMOST MAKE TWEED FINALS HOPE EXTINCT
The Blackhawks turned back the clock to their old days of dominating teams and big scores in Hughenden – the home of the Muttaburrasaurus – with a 62-12 thrashing of the Tweed Heads Seagulls who slipped down to 11th on the back of their fourth straight loss.
Townsville scored twelve tries in all, with less accurate goal kicking keeping the score below 70, and were democratic to ensure they scored an equal six in each half, as the Seagulls did with their two tries.
There were doubles to Jaelen Feeney, Jonathon Reuben, Kalifa Faifai-Loa, as well as six other try scorers, and the four pointers coming as regular as peak hour trains on the London Underground in a performance that will send a message to the entire competition. They have the lead of the competition, and with a win like that
To say that Tweed Heads finals hopes are extinct was a little unkind, more so to use the dinosaur pun in the title, than anything but in reality they are losing all momentum despite being just two points from sixth place, but the -153 points difference compared to the other teams is essentially another two points they will need to find.
PNG HUNTERS LAE DOWN A FINALS CHARGE MARKER
Playing in a location and atmosphere more akin to their earlier seasons playing out of the remote Kokopo, the change of location seemed to work it s magic as the Hunters secured a very good win over current top six side Norths Devils, who came into the weekend with a good winning running and recent record over the Hunters.
The Hunters got off to a good start too, and led all the way like they used to do when they were unbeatable in Papua New Guinea for several seasons. PNG opened the scoring up with penalty on 4 minutes, and the first try came after 13 minutes to their newly discovered fullback for 2018 – Edene Gebbie. It followed up ten minutes later with a quick two try burst in two minutes from Moses Meninga initially then a second for Gebbie. With perfect goal kicking and a fair chunk of the first half left, the Hunters were up 20-0.
Norths Devils got on the board in the 31st minute, which made the half-time score 20-6, and threatened to make a game of it ten minutes after the break with their second try to leave the score 20-10. However it would be the last time that the Devils would trouble the scorers, as the versatile Hunter Charlie Simon scored in the 56th and 63rd minute to put the game away and two competition points in their pocket.
The Devils are now fifth, and are just two points ahead of a group of four chasing finals contenders, all of which have great claims to finals football. One of those is the PNG Hunters, the lowest ranked of the team on 20 points. Their for and against in the negative will count against them come season’s end, so the wins need to continue and so does the margin of the wins. Defeating a good team like Norths is a great start for the tough final weeks ahead.
Sandor Earl’s comeback through the Sunshine Coast Falcons appears to be on hold as he injured his knee again in their 40-18 win over the Mackay Cutters. The match featured the two Jacks brothers Ryley and Rhys playing alongside each other for the first time in rugby league, and saw ever reliable winger Matt Soper-Lawler grab a double, and Justin Olam continue to press his claims for NRL through the Storm, or perhaps elsewhere. The Falcons led 28-6 at half-time, scoring five tries to one, the second half ended all square on 12 points a piece as Mackay showed some fight despite being down in the game, and win-less in a long time.
Wynnum’s great away days continue in the Intrust Super Cup (they are the second best side away from home after Redcliffe) as they won the battle of the most far-flung Intrust Super Cup Country Week in Normanton. It was a long way to go for both Brisbane based sides, and Wynnum will feel the better on that return journey. The Magpies, who only last weekend stopped a losing sequence that saw them almost fall out of the top 6, scored tries that book ended the match in the 3rd and 73rd minute, and both to winger Benaiah Bowie, just a shame that Wynnum scored four tries in between. The Seagulls scored two either side of the break, and had the game wrapped up at 22-4 going into the last 10 minutes.
The Intrust Super Cup Country Week Scores
REDCLIFFE DOLPHINS 16 Easts Tigers 14 @ Goondiwindi
BURLEIGH BEARS 24 Central Capras 14 @ Maryborough
NORTHERN PRIDE 34 Ipswich Jets 24 @ Cooktown
SUNSHINE COAST FALCONS 40 Mackay Cutters 18 @ Bowen
WYNNUM SEAGULLS 22 Souths Logan Magpies 10 @ Normanton
TOWNSVILLE BLACKHAWKS 62 Tweed Heads Seagulls 12 @ Hughenden
PNG HUNTERS 32 Norths Devils 10 @ Lae, PNG