Wynnum Manly ready to face the might of Townsville

(Mal Meninga Cup teams listed below)

WYNNUM Manly Seagulls coach Craig Youngjohns said his side were excited and ready for finals footy ahead of their Mal Meninga Cup semi-final clash away to Townsville Stingers on Sunday.

The Seagulls earned their finals spot with a hard-fought 18-16 win over Redcliffe in their final regular-season fixture and are now injury-free for their Stingers showdown.

Youngjohns was full of praise for his side’s victory and subsequent finals berth, noting they overcame a sudden injury toll as well as the loss of their previous skipper Will Brimson to the Brisbane Broncos’ Holden Cup squad.

“Considering we were under-manned, plus with our skipper away with the Broncos, we definitely looked good out there against Redcliffe,” Youngjohns said.

“The boys were pretty happy post-game and they’re looking forward to a trip away to Townsville, it’s an exciting reward for them.”

The other Meninga Cup semi-final will take place at Bishop Park on Saturday, with Norths Devils facing Mackay Cutters in another highly-anticipated clash. The Devils finished on top in Pool A with a blistering attack which was shown in their recent 60-10 victory against Easts.

However, Mackay represent strong opposition, having won their last match 64-12 against Toowoomba. They also boast one of the tightest defences in the competition; having finished the regular season with the second best Pool B defensive record behind the Stingers.

Though understandably proud of their achievement, the Seagulls have shaken off their post-game “holiday-mode” to undertake a strong week on the training field.

Wynnum’s charge into the finals has shown what they’re capable of, but their coach is still expecting improvement and discipline in the finals.

“We’ve trained well this week and it’s about the boys knowing where they want to be with no excuses,” he said. “This week is about us keeping well at what we’re doing and definitely sticking to our game-plan, as when we’ve found trouble this season it’s because we’ve strayed away from that.”

Though Townsville will represent an imposing challenge, Youngjohns has every faith in his side’s ability and is looking forward to kick-off on Sunday.

“Our main goal is to stick to our game plan and get off to a great start,” he said. “If we do that we can beat any side in the comp, but ideally we don’t want to be falling away and having to chase the game.”

Townsville product and now Wynnum hooker Brandon Smith has enjoyed an impressive season highlighted with a competition-high 10 tries and Youngjohns was full of praise for his team’s spine.

“We’ve been lucky to have such a strong combination with our fullback Sheldon Bobbert, halves Will Brimson and Joseph Burchell plus Brandon setting a really good platform for us,” he said.

“But considering the injuries we’ve had, all the boys have done well so far and we’re definitely excited for this weekend.”