Finals Week 1: Preview

Finals – Week 1 Preview

Townsville Blackhawks (3) v Easts Tigers (6)
Jack Manski Oval on Sunday, September 4 – 1.35pm*

Referee: Peter Gough Assistant Referee: Jarrod Cole
Head-to-Head:
Townsville 1 Easts 1 Drawn 1
Head-to-Head Finals: First game
Cup Finals: Townsville (played 2; won 1, lost 1), Easts (played 32; won 15, lost 17)
Twitter:
#intrustsupercup #TSVBvTIGES #superseptember

Three plays six in what promises to be a fiercely contested elimination final at Townsville’s Jack Manski Oval. With the home ground advantage, the Blackhawks will be expected to win through to the second week of the finals. However, this will be anything but an easy assignment for Blackhawks, who will come up against a Tigers team buoyed by a final-round win over the Cutters. Most importantly though, the Tigers will field their strongest line-up in many weeks, with classy Melbourne Storm contingent Young Tonumaipe'a, Dean Britt and Brodie Croft all capable of making a big impact for the visitors. One alarming statistic the Tigers will have to overcome is their dreadful away record in season 2016. They have lost seven of their past nine away games and will this weekend take the field against a team that has won 19 off 22 games at home. Scott Sipple’s Tigers can however draw immense confidence from their last meeting against Townsville, a 29-20 victory back in Round 12 at Suzuki Stadium. This is the Tigers’ fourth successive Intrust Super Cup finals appearance, but they are still chasing a breakthrough premiership after grand final losses in 1997, 2004, 2012 and 2013. The Blackhawks are of course on the hunt for their first piece of grand final silverware as well after a tight loss to Ipswich in last year’s premiership decider. Powerhouse Townsville centre Moses Pangai will play his 50th Cup match, just a few days after being named in the Intrust Super Cup’s Team of the Year.

PNG Hunters (4) v Sunshine Coast Falcons (5)
National Football Stadium, Port Moresby on Sunday, September 4 – 3.05pm
Referee:
Chris Anderson Assistant Referee: Nick Pelgrave
Head-to-Head: PNG 4 Sunshine Coast 2
Head-to-Head Finals: First game
Cup Finals: PNG (played 2, lost 2); Sunshine Coast (played 4; won 2, lost 2)
Twitter: #intrustsupercup #PNGvSCF #superseptember

While it is a repeat of last weekend’s Round 25 match with the PNG Hunters hosting the Sunshine Coast – this weekend’s game will see both teams rise to another level. The second of the elimination finals, the fourth-placed Hunters and fifth-placed Falcons are battling it out to earn another week in the finals series. For this game, the Falcons have named a strong team with a number of Melbourne Storm players like Mark Nicholls, Tui Kamikamica and Joe Stimson included in their line-up. However, according to local media reports, rising star Curtis Scott is in doubt for this game, while Canada international halfback Ryley Jacks has not been named in their 20-man squad after he suffered a groin injury in his side’s 34-4 loss last weekend. The Hunters have their own worries with co-captain Adam Korave to miss the next two games after an early guilty plea for a dangerous throw. PNG have won 33 of their 35 home games, including their last 27 with their last recorded loss back in June in 2014 against Easts Tigers at Kokopo. While the Hunters have won all three of games against Sunshine Coast played in PNG; their finals record is not good having lost both their two previous finals games. Falcons back Callum Klein has been named on an extended bench for this game for what will be his 100th Cup game. When he runs onto the field, he will draw level with twin brother Rowan for most Cup games with club, a milestone he reached last weekend.

Redcliffe Dolphins (1) – week off

Burleigh Bears (2) – week off

**Statistics by Brad Tallon