THE Mal Meninga and Cyril Connell Cups came to thrilling regular-season conclusions last weekend, with playoff spots decided through points differential after another high-scoring, action-packed round.
In Under 18 Meninga Cup Pool A matches, Norths Devils’ 60-10 win over Easts Tigers sealed first place and finals footy, with Wynnum Manly joining them after a tight 18-16 victory over the Redcliffe Dolphins.
Gold Coast Green’s 50-26 win against Souths Logan Magpies wasn’t enough to sneak past Wynnum’s superior points differential, but Keenan Palasia’s hat-trick was a highlight on what has still been an impressive season.
Gold Coast White also ended their season with a win by defeating Ipswich 24-20.
In Pool B, it was a memorable weekend for Mackay Cutters, with their 64-12 triumph over Toowoomba Clydesdales proving enough to snatch second spot on for-and-against from a valiant Central Crows.
The Crows went down to first-placed Townsville Stingers 27-10, but should still be proud of their efforts in winning four from six matches.
Sunshine Coast Falcons also missed out on the finals on points differential, but their 42-26 win against CQ Capras ended their solid season on a high.
Next weekend’s finals will see Norths face Mackay and Townsville take on Wynnum Manly.
The Stingers will need to look out for Wynnum’s Brandon Smith, who finished as the Meninga Cup leading try scorer with 10 tries, one ahead of Norths’ Michael Molo and the Capras’ Trai Fuller.
Norths fullback and skipper Adrian Henley’s weekend 12-point haul was also enough for him to be top point-scorer with 74 points.
In Under 16 Connell Cup fixtures, Souths guaranteed Pool A’s top spot via their 34-18 win over Gold Coast Green, with Syd Smith scoring a hat-trick.
Green’s defeat opened wide the hunt for second spot and it was Gold Coast White who benefitted, with their 30-6 win against Ipswich ensuring finals football.
The tightness of competition at this level was also highlighted with two draws in Wynnum-Redcliffe (28-28) and Easts-Norths (16-16).
Pool B’s first place was taken by Townsville, who were impressive in their 46-0 win against Central Crows.
With second-placed Northern Pride enjoying a bye, Capras won their campaign’s final game 26-18 over the Falcons and Mackay beat Toowoomba 24-10.
Easts’ exciting Hayden O’Hara ended with a competition-high 12 tries and Townsville’s Duarne Dempsey top-scored with 56 points.
With a weekend off now to prepare; the Pride next face Souths and Townsville play Gold Coast White with grand final spots on the line.
Keep an eye on www.qrl.com.au for semi-finals match details, including venues, dates and times.