Gold Coast White marched into the Mal Meninga Cup semi finals following a 36-12 win over the Ipswich Diggers in their quarter final at Davies Park on Sunday.
A glorious day greeted all teams with prefect conditions for football – with three junior finals being played at the venue that day.
It was tight opening few minutes with some physical exchanges – but White were able to cross in the left corner 10 minutes into the game when winger Jaxson Paulo went over the score the first of his three tries of the day.
That sparked Ipswich to up their intensity in defence – and they had to do a lot of – with pressure from the Gold Coast side seeing the Diggers camped on their own try line and they struggled to get out of their half with the ball.
This pressure paid off for the Gold Coast, who went over again with Apiata Noema-Matenga crashing over. This time, the conversion from Bostyn Hakaraia was successful and they were out to a 10-0 lead.
Ipswich then regroup and earned themselves a scrum and from there, they worked the ball into opposition territory and were able to earn themselves a drop out off that back of that pressure with 11 to go until the break.
They made this first opportunity could and Lorenzo Mulitalo was over in the right hand side. A successful kick from Joel Hughes put the scores at 10-6 with halftime approaching quickly.
However, the Gold Coast were to have the last laugh in the first half, with some good interchanging that eventually found Kobe Tararo who extended his side’s advantage.
Holding a 16-6 lead at halftime, the Gold Coast were the first to score again in the second half – rubbing salt into the wounds of an Ipswich side who should have opened the scoring down the right wing following a White error.
While it was a comfortable win in the end of the coast side, there was still plenty of entertainment to be had – including one great individual effort from Diggers halfback Hughes who surprised all but himself with a little grubber kick ahead for himself that he chased and collected to score under the posts.
It was an impressive effort from both teams and set a good tone for the rest of the day’s play.
In other Mal Meninga matches – the Townsville Blackhawks were too strong for Victoria who were in their first ever finals appearance with the NQ side claiming a 48-6 win.
Julian Christian and Marshall Hudson both scored double in the win that will see them face off against the Sunshine Coast in this weekend’s semi finals. The Falcons were also too much for the Easts Tigers to handle in the First Pool B v Second Pool D match played at the Sunshine Coast Stadium.
However, the match of the round was Saturday’s thriller between the Norths Devils and CQ Capras. The match went to extra time; with the Devils coming away with a 36-32 win in the end.
Unngoorra Harbour scored a hat-trick for Norths, while it was Jack Peoples four-pointer in the 73rd minute that sealed the deal against the Central Queensland side who fought back after trailing 12-6 at halftime.
*The match up for both the Under 18 Mal Meninga and Under 16 Cyril Connell Cups are listed below. Full times and venues for the semi finals to be announced on QRL.com.au later this week.
Mal Meninga Cup semi finals
Game 5: Townsville Blackhawks v Sunshine Coast Falcons
Game 6: Norths Devils v Gold Coast White
Cyril Connell Cup semi finals
Game 5: Townsville Blackhawks v Toowoomba Clydesdales
Game 6: Norths Devils v Souths Logan Magpies
The finals series make-up can be found here: Mal Meninga Cup Full Draw