Round 1 of the Coast-2-Coast Earthmoving Cup is here! Currumbin’s Galleon Way hosts the second annual Rugby League Gold Coast Gala Day featuring every first grade fixture in one afternoon.
Runaway Bay Seagulls v Bilambil Jets: 2:40pm
The Coast-2-Coast Earthmoving Cup opens with a clash between two teams who look set to be big movers in 2015. Runaway Bay finished outside the top five in 2015, but with new coach Shane Boyd, a handful of new faces (including former Easts Tigers FOGS Cup premiership winning captain Luke Lavelle) and a sprinkling of talent from their premiership winning under 19s, the Bay look set for an improved year. In 2014, the Bay showed glimpses of being a contender, but struggled at times with ball-control, discipline and fitness. With a focus on improving those areas, the Bay are on the cusp of breaking through. For Bilambil, 2015 is a chance to return to the competition’s top tier. In 2009-11 the Jets featured in three straight grand finals with the breakthrough premiership coming in 2011. Since then, the Jets have been a side that has been in the top three or four teams in the competition, but they’ve been unable to take that extra step and make a grand final or threaten for another premiership victory. In 2014 the Jets started slowly and took time to adjust to a new system, but once it clicked the Jets became a force. They won seven of their last nine games including wins over fancied Burleigh and Tweed teams in the finals en-route to the preliminary final. This season, the club’s second under 2012 premiership winning coach Scott Cooke, is a chance for them to pick up where they left off last year and push back to the top of the tree.
Burleigh Bears v Southport Tigers: 4:20pm
Arguably the competition’s biggest heavyweights come face-to-face in round 1. The Burleigh Bears look set to have a red-hot side this season thanks to an influx of recruits to their Intrust Super Cup side. As a result, their Coast-2-Coast Earthmoving Cup side will be full of players with Intrust Super Cup experience and hungry young players looking to crack a spot in the top grade. Under the guidance of new coach Matt Foster, the Bears will be expecting another big season. They’ve suffered early exits in the last two finals series, but look for the Bears to be there when the whips are cracking at the business end of this season as they look to put those demons to bed. Their first task will be a Southport team that will have a target on their back this year. After picking up the minor premiership in 2012-14, the Tigers finally broke through to win the big one last September. As defending premiers, every week their opposition will be putting their best foot forward in an attempt to knock off the champs and stamp their authority on the competition. It’s not an unfamiliar position for the Tigers to be in and it’s a situation coach Steve Dowd has navigated his men through successfully in the past. Dowd coached the Tigers to back-to-back premierships in 2008 and 09 before returning to the top job in 2013. Rarely are defending champs able to find the same level of excellence the following year, but if there is a club on the coast that knows how to do it, it’s the Southport Tigers.
Currumbin Eagles v Tugun Seahawks; 5:50pm
The local rivalry between Currumbin and Tugun headlines the Gala Day. This is a game that always throws up something interesting. Over the last four years, Tugun has been a powerhouse, playing in four straight grand finals and winning the comp in 2013. Meanwhile, the Eagles have been on the fringe of the finals and struggled with consistency. Despite being on different ends of the ladder for the majority of their clashes over the past four years, Currumbin has often found a way to get under Tugun’s guard and get a win, especially at Galleon Way. Regardless of the ladder position, this game always delivers something interesting. Currumbin promises to be a new-look side in 2015. Former Eagles junior James Griffin has stepped in to coach the side and he has brought with him a contingent of other Eagles juniors to bolster the line-up. Griffin says the club has a terrific feel this year and that his men are looking to enjoy their football, enjoy being with each other and produce on the field. For Tugun, it’s business as usual. While some of the stalwarts from their first grade team have moved on, they have a ready-made crop of Seahawks coming through the system ready to take their spot. Coach Selwyn Apanui, who has led the club to all four of their grand final appearances since 2011, says the senior players such as Martin Griese, Bodie Clark and Chris Hodges continue to set the standard and lead the way for the younger players coming through. Winning is a culture at Tugun, and their quest for a fifth straight grand final appearance starts on Saturday night.
Tweed Heads Seagulls: bye