IT is the final weekend of regular season in the Mal Meninga Cup and Cyril Connell Cup and there’s everything to play for; highlighted by Gold Coast Green’s exciting opportunity to secure their finals spot in both competitions.
Dean Allen’s Under 16 side will enter this Saturday’s match against Souths Logan Magpies knowing victory will guarantee first place and the playoffs.
Finals footy is on the line for both sides, but coach Allen said his team were keeping their same season-long mental preparation.
“We’ve always tried to keep a low-key approach from week-to-week,” he said. “Since our round 1 loss to Easts, we’ve looked at improving things slowly and taking it match by match.”
That mindset was evident in their 32-14 weekend win over playoff rival Ipswich, with Allen praising a team effort after one of his key players suffered an early injury.
“We’ve got arguably one of the top front-rowers in the comp in Jack Peacock, and he had to go off with injury after 10 minutes,” Allen said.
“So I was really impressed our forward-pack as a whole stepped up and the team effort to get the win was very impressive.”
With fellow Pool A team Gold Coast White also vying for a finals place, it’s made for an interesting atmosphere during the week.
“We train and do a bit of work together, along with the 18s and we’re mindful we’re representing the Gold Coast, but we’re also trying to win,” Allen said.
“But we like to have fun, they’re a fairly jovial bunch and we’re hopeful for a good weekend.”
In Pool B, the Townsville Stingers and Northern Pride guaranteed finals footy in style over the weekend with strong wins. Marshall Hudson scored a hat-trick in the Stingers’ 56-6 victory over the Capras, while Pride won 28-12 over Mackay.
Gold Coast Green’s Meninga Cup side will also be ready for their own must-win Pool A showdown with Souths following their impressive 68-4 win over Ipswich.
In other Pool A matches, Wynnum Manly defeated Souths 36-18, while Gold Coast White overcame Easts 28-24 at Owen Park.
In Pool B, an unpredictable round saw an impressive Trai Fuller hat-trick help the Capras end Townville’s perfect record with a 28-22 victory.
Elsewhere, Mackay defeated Northern Pride 38-16 and Central Crows outlasted Toowoomba Clydesdales 38-24 in Chinchilla.
Townsville’s points differential should be enough for a top-two finish, but who will join them will be decided this weekend.
Central Crows are currently second and face the Stingers on Saturday; while Mackay and the Falcons are two competition points behind the Crows. Each have a slightly weaker points differential and a Stingers win will give them an exciting chance to snatch a playoff spot at the perfect time.
By Dean Kelly