The completion of Intrust Super Cup Round 24 sees the end of the regular season, and all of the questions have now been answered.
Redcliffe are the minor premiers after they defeated the Sunshine Coast Falcons rather convincingly on Saturday evening, it was enough to finish ahead of Burleigh Bears (2nd, -1 point) and Townsville (3rd, -2 points), both of whom won their final round fixtures.
Whilst it was a good day for the Top 3 sides, it was certainly not as good for the rest of the top six going into the weekend. Both Easts and the PNG Hunters lost, and the Northern Pride drew. The loss a particular disaster for the PNG Hunters as Ipswich won on the Sunday and took the last finals place from the PNG side.
Down the ladder, Central Capras ended the season well with a second straight win, and the Souths Logan Magpies got a long overdue victory in Mackay.
In a slightly interesting coincidence, the first three games of the finals series will now see replays of the 2014, 2015 and 2016 Grand Finals.
A quick rundown of Intrust Super Cup Round 24 awaits, and stay tuned for our finals preview and coverage.
Intrust Super Cup Round 24 Results
Easts Tigers 18 BURLEIGH BEARS 48
Wynnum Seagulls 22 TOWNSVILLE BLACKHAWKS 26
CENTRAL CAPRAS 38 PNG Hunters 22
Northern Pride 10 Tweed Heads Seagulls 10
Mackay Cutters 14 SOUTHS LOGAN MAGPIES 22
REDCLIFFE DOLPHINS 45 Sunshine Coast Falcons 16
Norths Devils 14 Ipswich Jets 22
Redcliffe Dolphins 2018 Minor Premiers
2016 Grand Final Replay set for Week 2 of Finals
Redcliffe are the 2018 Intrust Super Cup minor premiers after defeating the Sunshine Coast Falcons 45-16 on Saturday night, but not before the Burleigh Bears put the pressure on with a big win over the in form Easts Tigers in the earlier TV game.
The star for the Dolphins on Saturday night was Kotoni Staggs who collected four tries and four goals in Redcliffe’s big win over the Sunshine Coast.
Redcliffe had the game in control throughout, the closest the Falcons came after Redcliffe scored the first two tries in the 8th and 12th minutes was when they replied in the 17th minute to make it 8-6 temporarily. From there Redcliffe skipped ahead, putting on two more tries, and a cheeky field goal to finish the first half 21-6 in front.
The second half was more of the same as Redcliffe ran in five tries, three of them for Kotoni Staggs, compared to two from the Falcons, the last of which was in the 79th minute. The margin over a good side showed Redcliffe are ready for finals battle after some mixed results at home in the last few months.
Burleigh did everything they could to take the Minor Premiership from Redcliffe, having beaten Easts 48-18 in the earlier game at Suzuki Stadium.
There was little to choose between the two sides heading into the match, but it looked like the Tigers recent superior form would carry them to victory, leading 10-0 after 12 minutes, scoring their first just three minutes into the clash. But it was to be their only joy of the first half as the Bears piled on four tries before half-time to lead 24-10 at the break.
The second half started off as good as it could for the home side as they scored straight away to reduce the margin to ten points, but once again the Bears took control with another three tries, and the game was as good as gone at 36-14. There was one more try in the Tigers, and given their come back the previous week against Souths Logan, you could 100% rule them out, until Burleigh sealed the match with another two tries to run out convincing 48-18 winners. Kurtis Rowe and Sami Sauiluma had grabbed themselves doubles for the Bears, and Kea Pere did likewise for the Tigers.
This now means that Redcliffe will play Burleigh after both sides get a week off in Week 1 of the finals. The match is a replay of the 2016 Intrust Super Cup Grand Final, which went to Burleigh on that day. Led by Cameron Cullen, who is now making a difference with the Dolphins.
The Top Six
Home Finals for Northern Queensland Sides, Easts In, and Ipswich steal sixth.
Townsville Blackhawks and Northern Pride sealed home games for week 1 of the finals with the results they needed over their respective Seagulls rivals on Saturday evening.
The Blackhawks played the Wynnum Seagulls at Kougari Oval, and they had to both come from behind, and also hold off a late charge from Wynnum in their 26-22 win. In fact, they got home on the back of kicking three out of five conversions, which was two better than Wynnum’s and ended up the difference between the sides.
After leading 10-0 early, the Blackhawks found themselves behind at half-time 14-10 after three tries from the home side. But the visitors ran in three unanswered tries themselves after the break to lead 26-14. Wynnum made it interesting with tries in the 6th and 79th minutes, but it was not enough, but could have been different if they had landed two of more conversion. The result mattered little for Townsville who had a home final regardless but couldn’t finish in the top two after the Bears earlier result.
Northern Pride jumped Easts Tigers into fourth and grabbed a home final thanks to a low scoring draw with the Tweed Heads Seagulls in Cairns. The Seagulls actually outscored the Pride two tries to one, but the Pride slotted penalties in the 71st and 77th minutes to extend their 6-4 half-time lead to 10-4 before Tweed Heads scored in the last-minute to draw the game. The one point for the draw enough to jump Easts, who they will now play in a replay of the 2014 Grand Final.
The PNG Hunters left their finals hopes in the hands of the Norths Devils after suffering a surprise loss in Rockhampton to the Central Capras.
Central scored early in the second minute, and although the Hunters replied in the tenth minute, they slowly but surely fell further and further behind the Capras. The Capras laid on four more first half tries to lead 28-10 at the break.
The Hunters scored first after half-time to reduce the gap to 12 points, but the Capras scored again, and even though the Hunters responded seven minute later to reduce the gap again to 12 points, there were no further tries and two penalty goals from the Capras added salt. This then left the Hunters at the mercy of the Norths v Ipswich result on the Sunday, a long wait was ahead of PNG fans.
Ipswich Jets stole the last position in the Top 6 after their win to the Norths Devils in Sunday’s fixture.
Needing a win to make the finals at the PNG Hunters, the Jets duly delivered, but not after being pushed all the way by the Norths Devils, who were knocked out of finals contention the previous week. Ipswich can thank the lucky boots of Marmin Barba who unlike the Devils, converted all his three attempts and slotted two penalty goals late in the second half to seal the win.
The Jets trailed at half-time 8-6, as their 13th minute try was the meat in the sandwich of two unconverted Devils tries, the last of which was just two minutes before the break. Ipswich landed a big blow early in the second half with tries in the 45th and 49th minutes, the last to tryscoring machine Marmin Barba. That gave the Jets a manageable 18-8 lead. Norths replied through Sam Tagataese in the 57th minute to set up a tense finish, the score 18-14, and PNG were still in the race.
Tension was released for the Jets when they kicked penalty goals in the 63rd and 68th minute, giving a handy eight point lead, which they held to the end, and live to fight on through the finals. Sadly for PNG fans, at the Hunters expense.
This means that the games in the first week of the finals will be Townsville against their 2015 Grand Final foes Ipswich Jets, and the Northern Pride taking on the Easts Tigers in Cairns. Townsville beat the Jets in Townsville earlier in the season, where the Tigers got the better of the Pride in Cairns. A great finals series awaits.
Souths Logan ended the season with a little joy at the expense of wooden spooners Mackay Cutter, with a 22-14 win in Mackay on Saturday night. Mackay jumped out of the blocks with two tries within 14 minutes to lead 8-0, before the Magpies responded with two tries before half-time to lead 10-8 at the break. Souths Logan skipped further ahead with another two tries by the 50th minute, to which Mackay could respond with one more try in the 55th minute. The result was a welcome break from a losing streak for Souths Logan, for Mackay their fate as wooden spooners was sealed last weekend.