Intrust Super Cup Round 9 preview
Mackay Cutters v Ipswich Jets
Stadium Mackay on Friday, April 29 - 7pm
Referee: Tyson Brough
Head-to-Head: Ipswich 11 Mackay 5
Twitter: #intrustsupercup #MCvJETS
Former North Queensland Cowboys forward Steve Rapira has announced his retirement from the Intrust Super Cup due to family reasons. The experienced forward will be replaced by Brad Lupi in tonight’s Round 9 clash against the Ipswich Jets. It’s been a horror start to the season for the Cutters, who have dropped all eight games. However, they have come tantalisingly close on a number of occasions, especially in home matches at Stadium Mackay. Their precarious position has the Ipswich Jets on high alert, with co-coaches Ben and Shane Walker expecting a fierce contest tonight. Ipswich’s own form this year has been patchy at best, but the defending premiers did produce a more controlled performance against the Sunshine Coast in Hervey Bay last weekend. Their 20-6 win over the Falcons was the club’s third of the season, providing Jets fans with some hope that a sixth consecutive finals appearance under the Walkers is still a possibility. In milestone news, Mackay’s Liam Taylor requires six points to pass Donald Malone and become the 10th highest scorer in Cup history.
Tweed Heads Seagulls v CQ Capras
Piggabeen Sports on Sunday, May 1 – 2pm
Referee: Tim Rutherford
Head-to-Head: Tweed Heads 19 Central 6 Drawn 1
Twitter: #intrustsupercup #THSvCQC
While Tweed Heads Seagulls may have had a less than ideal start to season 2016 with two wins punctuated by some unflattering defeats – opposing clubs still don’t like the prospect of playing them at their home ground of Piggabeen. Capras coach Kim Williams admitted as much, telling The Morning Bulletin that the Seagulls were “one of the toughest away teams to play”. His statement is backed up by statistics, with the Capras having only won one of their past eight games at the venue, back in 2003. However, this year under Williams the Capras have made great strides and last weekend, they posted their first back-to-back wins since 2013, and will be keen to go one better this weekend. However, as well as a poor record at the ground, they also have a poor recent head-to-head record, with the Gulls taking the honours in the past 10 – and 12 of the past 13 – games played. The Seagulls were also winners last round against the Cutters, scoring a number of flamboyant tries that had their home fans cheering and would have done wonders for the confidence of the players. This week, however, they will go into this game without one of their try scorers with Dane Clarke suspended for one match for Dangerous Contact.
Burleigh Bears v Townsville Blackhawks
Pizzey Park on Sunday, May 1 – 1.40pm* (Live on Channel 9 / WIN / NBN)
Referee: Peter Gough Assistant Referee: Jarrod Cole
Head-to-Head: Townsville 2 Burleigh 0
Twitter: #intrustsupercup #BEARSvTSVB
While Burleigh are riding high after producing a great start to the 2016 season – this weekend will be a good chance for them to prove they are worthy of the hype. The home side withstood a second half fightback from the highly-rated PNG Hunters last weekend, claiming victory by a two-point margin. However, they were not at their best and will need to improve if they are to truly test themselves against the competition leaders Townsville. Whatever the result, they will be hoping it is a far cry from what happened when these two sides met in Round 9 last year; where the Blackhawks recorded their biggest ever win and inflicted the Bears with their biggest ever loss in the 78-6 result. The Blackhawks however also have some areas they will look to tidy up – having been behind on the scoreboard their past two games against the Pride and Falcons. Coach Kristian Woolf told his club website that he wanted to see his side “improve their first half energy” and clean up their error rate. For this game, the Bears have named an unchanged side from last weekend, but that is expected to change before game day with prop Pat Vaivai and centre Sami Sauiluma unlikely to play after sustaining injuries in the game against PNG.
Sunshine Coast Falcons v Norths Devils
Sunshine Coast Stadium on Sunday, May 1 - 3pm
Referee: Nick Pelgrave
Head-to-Head: Norths 10 Sunshine Coast 3 Abandoned 1
Twitter: #intrustsupercup #SCFvDEVILS
With both clubs sitting just outside the top six, the stakes are high heading into Sunday’s clash at Sunshine Coast Stadium. Mark Gliddon’s Devils sit in eighth spot on nine competition points, while the Falcons sit one spot behind Norths on eight. Such is the closeness of this year’s Intrust Super Cup, the side that collects the two points here could very well be perched in the top six by the completion of Round 9. Norths had the bye last weekend and should be fresh and ready to rip in, with young Broncos forwards Jai Arrow and Brett Greinke again central to their winning prospects. Arrow has been particularly impressive for Norths this year and is believed to be one of several players from both clubs in contention for selection in the Queensland Residents team to play NSW on May 8 at Suzuki Stadium, Langlands Park. The Queensland team will be announced on QRL.com.au on Sunday afternoon. The Falcons were well contained by the Ipswich Jets last weekend, but will relish the chance to return to Sunshine Coast Stadium and play in front of their home fans.
Northern Pride v Wynnum Manly Seagulls
Barlow Park on Sunday, May 1 – 3pm
Referee: Nick Morel
Head-to-Head: Pride 10 Wynnum 7
Twitter: #intrustsupercup #PRIDEvWYN
Live Stream: Seagulls TV
The Wynnum Manly Seagulls finally got their first win on the board in Round 7, fighting hard against the Ipswich Jets to record the drought-breaking victory. However, they had the bye last weekend and did not get the chance to build any winning momentum, and face a tough challenge this weekend against a Pride side who – for one half last weekend – had the measure of the ladder-leading Blackhawks. The NQ side held a 13-8 halftime lead in Townsville, but were unable to match their opponents in the second and were also held scoreless to go down 26-13. But with a good record at their home base of Barlow Park which has seen them win their past eight (and 12 of their past 13) games at the venue – the side will be looking to bounce back. However, they will have to do it without the services of interchange hooker Denzel King who has relocated to SEQ to pursue a career opportunity. For the Seagulls, a few of their key players will return, with Mitchell Buckett (centres) and last year’s Rookie of the Year award winner Aaron Rockley (lock) back in the line-up.
Easts Tigers v Souths Logan Magpies
Suzuki Stadium, Langlands Park on Sunday, May 1 – 3pm
Referee: Liam Kennedy
Head-to-Head: Easts 28 Souths Logan 11
Twitter: #intrustsupercup #TIGESvSLM
Live Stream: Tiger TV
The sons of XXXX Queensland Maroons coach Kevin Walters will go up against each another in Sunday’s clash at Suzuki Stadium. Billy will start at five-eighth for the Tigers, while Jack gets an opportunity at hooker for the visiting Magpies. Matches between Easts and Souths are always willing affairs, and the sibling rivalry will add another dimension to what should be an intriguing contest. Easts have been hit hard by injuries this year, but the Scott Sipple-coached team has displayed tremendous resolve each week. Last weekend, they came from well back to get within two points of the Redcliffe Dolphins. The Magpies were also on the wrong end of the ledger, falling 28-16 to the Central Queensland Capras in Yeppoon. The recent head to head record strongly favours the Tigers, who have won the past eight encounters and nine of the last 10.
XXXX Rivalry Match of the Round
PNG Hunters v Redcliffe Dolphins
National Football Stadium on Sunday, May 1 – 3.05pm
Referee: Michael Gordon
Head-to-Head: PNG 3 Redcliffe 0 Drawn 1
Twitter: #intrustsupercup #PNGvPHINS
Hunters co-captain Noel Zeming and versatile back Adex Wera return to the side for Sunday’s enticing match against the much-improved Redcliffe Dolphins. This is an important game for the Hunters who – although have the bye for the Representative Round next weekend – will see many of their players in action for the Kumuls in the Pacific Test against Fiji and will then have a scheduled bye in Round 10. The Dolphins are in great form and have won their past five games – including a two-point thriller against Easts Tigers last weekend. Previously flying under the radar – that victory pushed them up to second spot on the Intrust Super Cup ladder at the expense of the Hunters who lost their Anzac Day clash against Burleigh in what was a two-point defeat. This weekend, the two teams will play for the Stan Joyce Cup – which is named in honour of the Hunters major sponsors SP Brewery managing director Stan Joyce to remember the Hunters first ever win in the Intrust Super Cup – a match they played against the Dolphins in Brisbane in 2014. Since that first encounter, the two sides have developed a good rivalry, with all four games played having been decided by seven points or less.
***Each week, the XXXX Rivalry Match of the Round will highlight a match that showcases a traditional rugby league rivalry. The storied histories of club battles, local derbies and bitter grand final combatants will take centre stage in this new promotion by XXXX that helps celebrate the heritage of the “greatest game of all”.
*Statistics by Brad Tallon