SUNSHINE COAST FALCONS v TOWNSVILLE BLACKHAWKS
Sunshine Coast Stadium on Saturday, August 22 –2.30pm
Referee:
Tyson Brough
Head-to-Head: First Game
Twitter: #intrustsupercup #SCFvTSVB
Livestream: Blackhawks TV

The Sunshine Coast have named a strong side to face the top-of-the-table Townsville Blackhawks in this weekend’s opening game of Round 24.

NRL-experienced forward Tom Learoyd-Lahrs adds some heft to the bench as does rising star Nelson Asofa-Solomona, while popular forward Jacob Samoa and utility Jay Lobwein make their return to the side. Jye Ballinger, Jon Platt and Jaz Nahu-Main move to the extended bench.

Last weekend, the Sunshine Coast let a 10-0 halftime lead slip against the Bears to go down 18-16 in an absorbing battle. The Bears winning try can from a rebound off the goal posts; so the Falcons will be hoping for better luck against a hard-to-beat Townsville outfit in their final home game of the season.

The Blackhawks are unchanged from their heart-stopping 36-28 win over the Jets in Charters Towers last weekend. They were stunned early by Ipswich who shot to an 18-0 lead early before the Blackhawks set about clawing back the deficit and eventually taking the game.

Falcons winger Rowan Klein will equal the record of most number of games played for the Sunshine Coast – drawing level with his twin brother Callum on 85.

MACKAY CUTTERS v PNG HUNTERS
Stadium Mackay on Saturday, August 22 – 6pm
Referee:
Chris Anderson
Head-to-Head: PNG 2 Mackay 1
Twitter: #intrustsupercup #MCvPNG
Livestream: QRL TV

The recent form of these two teams could hardly be more contrasting. While the Hunters have played their way into Intrust Super Cup minor premiership contention on the back of a stunning unbeaten run of 15 matches, the Cutters have slumped to four straight defeats.

There is still some hope though for the Cutters. If they win their two remaining games, the Pride lose both of theirs and Redcliffe drop one, then they would sneak into sixth spot. Such a scenario is extremely unlikely though given the enormity of the challenge awaiting them this weekend.

Michael Marum’s Hunters can barely put a foot wrong at the moment. They were however a touch slow out of the blocks last weekend against Wynnum Manly before clicking into overdrive with a dominant second half display.

Forwards Kato Ottio and Willie Minoga were both in destructive form during the 36-13 win. Ottio notched two tries, while crowd favourite Minoga raised the decibel levels with his barnstorming try in front of a capacity crowd.

CQ CAPRAS v SOUTHS LOGAN MAGPIES
Browne Park on Saturday, August 22 – 7.30pm
Referee:
Belinda Sleeman
Head-to-Head: Souths Logan 19 Central 17 Drawn 2
Twitter: #intrustsupercup #CQCvSLM

The visiting Magpies have made a host of changes to their line-up this weekend with the two players in hooker Travis Waddell and prop Aotealofa Tuimavave both being handed suspensions.

Coach Josh Hannay has also included a handful of fresh faces for the trip north with Ben Jackson (five-eighth) and Jack Walters (bench) joining the more experienced Josh Damen (centre) and Matt Trnka (wing) in the line-up. Joe Boyce, David Pritchard and Ihaka Watene are the players omitted.  

Last weekend, the Magpies lost a close match against Easts, with Scott Doyle scoring a try and booting five goals for a personal tally of 14 points. He now only needs six more to equal the most by a Magpie player in a season (currently 154 by Rickie Dodd in 2003).

The Capras have judiciary issues of their own with centre Marco Delapena needing to be replaced in the line-up after pleading guilty to a Dangerous Throw charge. The team is otherwise unchanged following last weekend’s close loss to Tweed Heads besides the inclusion of utility Josh Mitchell to an extended bench.

Referee Belinda Sleeman will be making her Intrust Super Cup refereeing debut. Sleeman, a Rockhampton product, becomes the first female to take charge of a Cup game in Queensland.

REDCLIFFE DOLPHINS v EASTS TIGERS
Dolphin Oval on Sunday, August 23 – 1.40pm* (Live on Channel 9/WIN NBN)
Referee:
Michael Gordon
Head-to-Head: Redcliffe 25 Easts 15 Lost 1
Twitter: #intrustsupercup #PHINSvTIGES

Redcliffe’s late-season surge continues and their win over the Northern Pride last weekend kept their slim finals hopes alive for another week. They have to keep on winning however starting with this tough match against an Easts Tigers outfit who have slipped under the radar in recent weeks.

The Tigers were just able to shake off a committed Magpies side last weekend and this Sunday their team has been strengthened by the inclusion to the side of experienced players Michael Kai on the wing, Liam McDonald and Francis Tualau at prop. Dayne Weston has also been named on the bench adding further interest to a match that is set to showcase both teams’ powerful forward packs.

In team news, Harley Aiono returns from suspension in the place of Martin Cordwell, while Taylor Brown is on the bench for Tristan Lumley.

Luke Capewell and Donald Malone will both run out for their 50th game for their respective clubs. This match will be Redcliffe skipper Capewell’s 74th overall (Easts and Ipswich) while it will also be Malone’s 177th overall (Toowoomba, Ipswich and Mackay).

Interestingly – both these players are also on track to post significant points milestones with Capewell requiring four points for 200 for the season and Malone needing only eight to bring up 750 in the Cup.

NORTHS DEVILS v NORTHERN PRIDE
Yusia Ginau Oval, Bamaga on Sunday, August 23 – 2pm
Referee:
Liam Kennedy
Head-to-Head: Pride 14 Norths 2 Drawn 1
Twitter: #intrustsupercup #DEVILSvPRIDE

The most northerly town in Australia will play host to their second Intrust Super Cup game this weekend with the Norths Devils and Northern Pride taking their Round 24 match up to Bamaga’s Yusia Ginau Oval.

This is shaping as an important game – with the Pride desperate to win to go one step closer to ensuring a finals berth and the chance to defend their title.

Last week they suffered a loss against an in-form Redcliffe side – and have also lost the services of fullback Hezron Murgha from that match after he accepted a two-match ban for a shoulder charge.

Linc Port will fill the custodian position in his absence with other changes to the line-up this weekend seeing winger Javid Bowen and forward Vaipuna Tia Kilifi come into the side. Brent Oosen has been omitted for this match.  

The Devils are unchanged following last week’s impressive 40-28 win over the Mackay Cutters at Dalby. Norths did all the damage in a near-perfect first half to set up the win, going out to a 28-6 lead at halftime.

The Courier Mail will be sending a reporter and photographer to cover all the events from Bamaga – so keep an eye out for their special report.

TWEED HEADS SEAGULLS v IPSWICH JETS
Piggabeen Sports on Sunday, August 23 – 3pm
Referee:
Clayton Sharpe
Head-to-Head: Tweed 18 Ipswich 9
Twitter: #intrustsupercup #THSvJETS

The penultimate round of the regular season shapes as a vital encounter for the Jets. Following consecutive losses to league leaders PNG Hunters and Townsville Blackhawks, the Ipswich team is now under pressure to keep its spot in the top four.

A win over the Seagulls on Sunday would not only steady the ship, but put the Jets in the box seat to hold off a late challenge from Easts Tigers for fourth spot. In fact, an even closer inspection of the premiership table shows the Jets can jump Wynnum Manly into third.

Ipswich’s run into the finals is set to receive a massive boost with the return of Sam Martin from a four match suspension. Should he come straight back into the club’s top grade line-up as expected this weekend, it will mark his 100th Cup match for the Jets. Skipper Keiron Lander is also nearing a return to the playing field with his recovery from a broken thumb progressing nicely.

Although the 10th placed Seagulls are out of finals contention, they have the ability to upset the finals-bound Jets. Last week, they were well below their best against the Capras in Bundaberg but somehow found a way to win in a tense second half.

Burleigh Bears – bye

Wynnum Manly Seagulls – bye