The In Safe Hands Cup finals have arrived after 21 rounds of quality and at times, very exciting rugby league.
Such was the competitiveness of the competition; it took until the final game so the season for the top five to finally settle.
From the first game at 12.40pm on March 11 between Wynnum Manly and Logan Brothers at BMD Kougari Oval until 4.55pm last Saturday at Kev McKell Oval between Wests and Valleys; the games have produced 2595 points – and one of those was a single field goal from Round 1.
During the season, there were two draws (both involving the Panthers) and 469 tries. There were 64 players who scored a single try and there were 359 goals kicked.
Kyle Van Klaveren (Redcliffe), Rowan Klein (Valleys), Eric Koelbel and Jared Blanke (West Brisbane Panthers) played the most games, with 18 each.
Looking ahead, the first semi-final will be the elimination final between two of Queensland Rugby League’s traditional rivals in Wests and Easts.
The results of their three encounters in 2017 have seen West Brisbane Panthers win 21-14 in Round 1; while Round 8 saw Easts win 44-40. Round 14 was a 20-20 draw.
For the Panthers, Troy Swift returns, while Easts will have a fresh side running out after Logan Brothers forfeited to them last week.
The elimination final will be livestreamed on BRLTV with Ipswich Jets premiership winning coach Mark Bishop providing expert commentary on a game that may go into extra time – something Bishop has experienced in the past; having gone down in last year’s grand final against Redcliffe.
The winner of the knockout final will take on the loser of the Seagulls v Diehards clash.
At 6pm on Saturday, second-placed Wynnum Manly will host third-placed Valleys in the qualifying final. These two sides first met in Round 2 at Emerson Park where the Seagulls won 24-12.
Other results between the teams saw a Round 11 win to Valleys 32-6 at Kougari Oval; another win in Round 19 to Valleys 18-4. Diehards lead 2-1 in the head-to-head and with a 62-34 points difference.
Both sides have some of the biggest forwards running around in the In Safe Hands Cup. Valleys forward Dylan Smith will take on former Seagulls team-mates including “the BFG” Tanu Wulf.
Liam Herrington also returns to the Diehards pack and the Klein brothers Rowan and Callum have been named in the halves to take on the talented Seagulls pairing of Paora Kemp and Ben Cronin.
The winner of this will meet the minor premiers Redcliffe in the grand final qualifier. The loser will take on the winner of the West Brisbane v Easts game.
IN SAFE HANDS CUP – SEMI FINALS WEEK 1
West Brisbane Panthers v Easts Tigers at Kev McKell Oval, Saturday, August 26 – 3pm
West Brisbane Panthers
1. Adam Wickins 2. Paul Ulberg 3. Michael Pearsall 4. Kennedy Pettyborne 5. Jamie Olds 6. Kane Zalewski 7. Luke Strasser 8. Erik Koelbel 9. Aaron Watson 10. Jared Blanke 11. Ashley Harawira 12. Jake Kelly 13. Ethan Marrinan 14. Shaun Tupou 15. Dominic Biondi 16. Josh Afoa 17. Troy Swift
Coach: Wayne Weekes
1. Brandon Downey 2. Connor Jones 3. Leon Ellia-Niukore 4. Brett Ferguson 5. David McKenna 14. Kevin Bell 7. Rex Johnson 15. Andrew Thompson 9. Charles Burchell 10. John Puna 11. Luke Lavelle 12. Jack Schaffer 13. Anton Iaria 8. Gene Ropoama 16. Jacob Teevan 17. Matt Richards, 19. Ryan Cameron
Coach: David Krause
Wynnum Manly Seagulls v Valleys Diehards at Kougari Oval, Saturday, August 26 – 6pm
Wynnum Manly Seagulls
1.Hayden Crowley 2. Benaiah Bowie 3. Mitchell McMillian 4. Mitchell Buckett 5. Christian Mika 6. Paora Kemp 7. Ben Cronin 8. Tanu Wulf 9. Corey Davis 10. Ngarima Pita 11. Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard 12. Brad Mana 13. Cody McIntosh 14. Kelly Tate 15. Te Rore Puke 16. Carlos Smith 17. Jacob Paulo 18. Mitchell Ensby (one to be omitted)
Coach: Ron Troutman
1.Joe Bond 2. Tom Collins 3. Ryley Kajewski 4. Greg Miglio 5. Stacey Everitt 6. Rowan Klein 7. Callum Klein 20. Dylan Smith 9. Chris Aiton 10. Liam Herrington 11. Jacob Kelly 19. Troyden Watene 13. Jarryd Dodd 14. Aaron Clode 15. Dylan Mislov 16. Mattais Heimuli 17. Rajan Opetia-Halls
Coach: Don Gailer
11.18 - If scores are equal at the conclusion of normal time in any Finals Series match, then in such matches a period of extra time shall follow.
11.19 - The commencement of the period of extra time shall be determined by the toss of a coin as described under the Laws of the Game.
11.20 - If no point or points have been scored after a further period of five (5) minutes, the referee shall cease play and teams shall immediately change ends. The team that did not kick-off to commence the initial period of extra time, will kick-off to recommence the second period.
11.21 - Play shall then continue on an unlimited time basis until the first point or points have been scored to determine the winner of the match.
11.22 - In such extra time, the first scorer of any point or points (e.g. field goal, penalty goal or try) will immediately be declared the winner.
11.23 - If a try is scored in extra time the conversion kick will not be permitted.