‘GET IN THE GAME’ COUNTRY WEEK PREVIEW - Round 20

SOUTHS LOGAN MAGPIES v NORTHS DEVILS
Barcaldine Showgrounds, Barcaldine, on Saturday, July 23 – 3pm
Referee: Tim Rutherford
Head-to-Head: Norths 23, Souths Logan 16, Drawn 1
Twitter: #SLMvDEVILS

Two of the competition’s traditional rivals travel to the central west of Queensland to launch ‘Get in the Game’ Country Week. The Barcaldine Showgrounds will be the venue for the town’s first Intrust Super Cup game and to mark the occasion, a host of community activities will take place over four days. From Thursday through to Sunday, there will be junior coaching clinics for boys and girls, school visits and coach and referee updates for volunteers. The Barcaldine community will officially welcome the teams to the region with some famed local hospitality at the Ironbark Inn on match eve. On the field, the Magpies will be looking to play their way into the top six with a victory over the 12th placed Devils. Fresh from a tough win over the Easts Tigers and with a favourable run home, the Josh Hannay-coached Magpies are well placed to qualify for the finals. Interestingly, Hannay played a representative match for Country against the Kevin Walters-coached City team in Barcaldine in 2006.

BURLEIGH BEARS v IPSWICH JETSCharleville Showgrounds, Charleville, on Saturday, July 23 – 3pm
Referee: Gavin Reynolds
Head-to-Head: Burleigh 21, Ipswich 14, Drawn 2
Twitter: #BEARSvJETS

With born and bred Charleville boy Liam Capewell in the Ipswich Jets line-up, there will be no surprises for guessing which of the travelling south east teams will win the support of local fans this weekend. Liam is the brother of former Jet Kurt Capewell, who made his National Rugby League debut for the Cronulla Sharks earlier this month. Their mother Lyn is a local councillor in the region and will be cheering loudly for the Jets when her small town hosts its first Intrust Super Cup game. After a slow start to the season, the Jets have hit form with five-straight wins, moving from 13th on the ladder to sixth in the process. However, this is easily their biggest challenge of the year and they will have to do it without the steady hand of young five-eighth Chris Ash, who is representing the XXXX Queensland Rangers this weekend. Burleigh is the form team of the competition and with a three-point buffer over the Redcliffe Dolphins, the minor premiership is as good as theirs if they can get the job done against the Jets. Jimmy Lenihan’s Bears are coming off a brilliant 26-20 win over the Blackhawks in Townsville last weekend. Luke Page, a former Jet and Courier Mail Medallist, scored the match-winner in the dying minutes. Saturday’s match will be Page’s 50th for the Bears and his 84th overall.

TOWNSVILLE BLACKHAWKS v CQ CAPRAS
Alex Inch Oval, Mount Isa on Saturday July 23 – 4pm
Referee: Liam Kennedy
Head-to-Head: Townsville 3, Central 0.
Twitter: #TSVBvCQC

The Intrust Super Cup comes to Mount Isa for just the second time when the Blackhawks clash with the Capras on Saturday. The first match played in ‘The Isa’ in 2012 saw the Northern Pride register a thrilling 26-24 victory over the Souths Logan Magpies. A similar close scoreline could be on the cards this weekend. Both teams have been below their best in recent weeks, but it is the fourth-placed Blackhawks who are eyeing off another shot at September glory. If the Blackhawks cross the white line on four occasions, they will become the first team to bring up 100 tries this year.  This time last year, Kyle Feldt was racking up points for Townsville in the Country Week clash against the Ipswich Jets at Charters Towers. Feldt went on to play a starring role for the North Queensland Cowboys in the 2015 grand final, and this year the towering winger came close to making his Origin debut for the XXXX Queensland Maroons. CQ Capras centre Justin Tavae plays his 50th Intrust Super Cup game.

MACKAY CUTTERS v WYNNUM MANLY SEAGULLS
Darryl Bourke Oval, Moranbah on Saturday, July 23 – 5.30pm
Referee: Chris Anderson
Head-to-Head: Wynnum Manly 9, Mackay 8
Twitter: #MCvWYN

This will be the fifth Intrust Super Cup game played at the home of Mackay & District Rugby League club the Moranbah Miners. Mackay has played in three of those previous games, with wins against the Sunshine Coast in 2013 and 2014. This year hasn’t gone to script for the Cutters, who will almost certainly collect the wooden-spoon for the first time since 2009 unless they produce a barnstorming finish to the year. The Cutters will again look to outstanding hooker Josh Chudleigh to provide the spark behind a big forward pack this weekend. And he will need to be at his very best against a Seagulls outfit coming off three-straight wins, the most recent a 28-8 shut out of the Northern Pride at BMD Kougari Oval. Wynnum Manly forward Stephen Coombe will chalk up his 50th game for the Seagulls, while teammate Matt Seamark requires 15 points to pass Liam Georgetown (1247) and become the second highest point scorer in the competition behind only Nick Parfitt (1421).   

SUNSHINE COAST FALCONS v TWEED HEADS SEAGULLS (Live on Channel 9)
Albert Park, Gympie, on Sunday, July 24 – 1.40pm
Referee: Michael Gordon
Head-to-Head: Tweed 11, Sunshine Coast 4
Twitter: #SCFvTHS

Sunday afternoon’s live Channel 9 match puts the spotlight on Gympie, a passionate rugby league town in the Wide Bay-Burnett region. The Country Week clash is a must-win game for both teams, with the Falcons one competition point behind the three teams in equal sixth spot and the Tweed four points adrift. Tweed scraped home 18-16 against the Capras last weekend to keep their faint finals hopes alive, while the Falcons scored six tries on their way to a 26-12 win over the Norths Devils. Falcons halfback Ryley Jacks had one of his best games for his new club with two tries and boom centre Curtis Scott proved a handful once again with his brilliant footwork catching the Devils on the hop. Both players have been named to play in Sunday’s Albert Park clash. While there will be plenty of rivalry on the field, both teams will come together off it to support a host of community initiatives in conjunction with QRL and NRL Game Development staff. This will be the second Cup game played in Gympie (2002 NQ Young Guns 60 def Wests 12, 2003 Tweed Heads 28 def Wests 10).

REDCLIFFE DOLPHINS v NORTHERN PRIDE
Ravenshoe JRL Grounds, Ravenshoe, on Sunday, July 24 – 2pm
Referee: Clayton Sharpe
Head-to-Head: Northern Pride 15, Redcliffe 2
Twitter: #PHINSvPRIDE

Clayton Sharpe will become the first match official to referee 200 Intrust Super Cup games when he blows time on for the crucial clash between the Dolphins and Pride. The Gladstone product and current Brisbane Rugby League Referees’ Association member created a slice of history last year when he became the first referee to control four-straight Intrust Super Cup grand finals. The 2015 decider between Ipswich and Townsville also saw him equal Tony Maksoud’s long-standing record of five grand finals. While there is no silverware on offer in Sunday’s match, the Round 20 Country Week clash could potentially decide the finals fortunes of the Northern Pride. Having slipped to 10th spot, Joe O’Callaghan’s team could ill-afford to drop another game given the recent good form of the Ipswich Jets, Souths Logan Magpies, Wynnum Manly Seagulls and Sunshine Cast Falcons. Ravenshoe, located on the Atherton Tableland in Far North Queensland, is one of three towns hosting an Intrust Super Cup match for the first time this weekend. Second-placed Redcliffe will travel north on the back of a last-gasp 24-20 win over the PNG Hunters at Dolphin Oval. But the win came at a cost for the Phins, who won’t have the services of gun forward Anthony Cherrington (rib injury).

 

PNG HUNTERS v EASTS TIGERS
National Football Stadium on Sunday, July 24 – 3.05pm
Referee: Jarrod Cole
Head-to-Head: Easts 2, PNG 1, Drawn 1
Twitter: #PNGvTIGES

The only match played outside of regional Queensland this weekend will see two desperate teams meet at Port Moresby’s National Football Stadium. The Hunters suffered a heartbreaking loss to the fast-finishing Dolphins last weekend while the injury-hit Easts Tigers were a fraction off the pace against the Magpies in their Round 19 loss. Easts were seemingly cruising towards a finals berth and perhaps even a top three finish a number of weeks ago. But the Intrust Super Cup ladder has changed quite drastically over the past few weeks, with three teams – Ipswich, Souths Logan and Wynnum Manly – now all within two wins of Scott Sipple’s Tigers. But it’s certainly not panic stations for the Tigers, who are one of only two sides to have beaten the Hunters on their home turf in 31 games. In milestone news, Hunters pair Thompson Teteh and Adex Wera are within one touch down of equalling the Hunters’ most prolific try scorer in Israel Eliab (30).