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How to win the preliminary final

And so it comes to this. With the Burleigh Bears awaiting an opponent for the Intrust Super Cup grand final at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday, September 25; the minor premiers the Redcliffe Dolphins face off against giant killers Sunshine Coast at Dolphin Oval this Sunday.

There's a lot to like in both teams, so to give an insight into where this game will be won and lost, I enlisted the help of Ipswich co-coach Shane Walker and departing Souths Logan mentor Josh Hannay.

The Jets went down to Redcliffe in the two meetings they had in 2016, while Hannay's Magpies had a draw and a 48-12 loss to the Falcons. Here's where they see the strengths and weaknesses of the preliminary final combatants.

Redcliffe Dolphins – Shane Walker

“They were the best defensive team of the season, so that in itself underpins why they are such a good team.

“They've got a lot of guys who have been in NRL systems so they understand what it takes to control the tackle really well and they do compete pretty hard in defence too.

“You haven't scored until you're over the line with the ball on the ground, that's for sure.

“That defensive plan that they've got starts with their coach Adam Mogg and it appears as though everybody knows their job and are doing it well.

“There’s not one player that holds it together as such, but if you're looking for a player who brings something extra to their defence it would have to be Tyson Cleal.

“He's a real firebrand that can turn the tide with a big hit. He doesn't appear to have too much regard for his own safety, which is what you want from a tearaway forward.

“As well as being the best defensive team the Dolphins scored more points than any other team and that comes from their hooker Shane Pumipi and their halves Darren Nicholls and Zach Strasser.

“Pumipi is a clever dummy-half and Ben and I have always been really big fans of Strasser. He is very much the running half and Nicholls gives them the control and gets them around the park.

“The big unknown is how they bounce back. It looked last week like they got on stage, the curtain went up and they forgot their lines in the opening half, but the longer the game went on the weekend the more likely it looked that they would win.

“Last week they were the minor premiers playing at home at their new stadium and expected to win and for their sake they would certainly hope that the same mindset and thought process isn't entered into this weekend.”

Sunshine Coast Falcons – Josh Hannay

“The Falcons are certainly trying to play up the tag as the underdog and suggesting that they don't have as strong a side on paper as other teams, but over the last couple of months their side has been as good as any.

“The eight or nine Storm guys that they get are really quality players and you see that particularly in their backline.

“The two centres, Ryan Morgan and Curtis Scott, are probably as good a strike centres as you'll find in the comp, Eddie Tautali at the back is a real threat and Ryley Jacks has been one of the form halves.

“They've got a lot of strike out wide so your edge defenders really have to do a job there, left and right.

“The best way to stop them exposing you on the edges is to cut down the time that Jacks has to play.

“He's a really creative and clever halfback who generally takes the right options, so putting pressure on him and cutting his time down – which in turn cuts down the space he creates for his edge guys – is a real key to beating Sunshine Coast.

“Generally they don't tend to play through the middle because they don't have the size of some of the other packs in the competition, but their middle does a really good job of working hard and holding their own, particularly defensively.

“Even though you're never sure exactly who is going to be playing each week, you just have to prepare for their best and for those eight or nine Storm players to be there. If they're not, then that's a bonus.

“Adam Mogg is a smart coach and Redcliffe as a club is very diligent in what they do, so I've got no doubt they'll be preparing for Sunshine Coast to be loaded up with their strongest possible team.

“With the footy, you've got to patient. Defensively over the past couple of weeks they have kept PNG to 12 and Townsville to 10, so they're defending really well for each other so you just need to be patient with your attack.

“Redcliffe have probably got as many options as anyone in the comp, so I think if they are patient they have got the side to crack Sunshine Coast open."

A former editor of Big League, Tony Webeck is the Chief Queensland Correspondent for

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