Week 1 of the In Safe Hands Cup had Wynnum Manly (2) and Valleys (3) square off to determine who would take on minor premiers Redcliffe in this weekend’s major semi-final.
The Diehards impressive form continued last Saturday night at BMD Kougari Oval where they had to repel an opening onslaught from a huge Wynnum Manly pack.
But with their line intact, Valleys finally got to the scoring zone after a shift of the ball from left to right which stretched the Seagulls defence.
A slick pass from Troyden Watene put Stacey Everitt over for the first points and Valleys were over again when Chris Aiton gave the shortest of passes to Dylan Smith who smashed his way in.
Aiton again provided, sending in Rajan Opetaia-Halls to touch down next to the left upright in front of the Chook Pen and the home side led 18-0 at halftime.
The ever elusive Hayden Crowley danced his way through the Diehards defence to put the first second-half points on the board for the Gulls.
Valleys hit back however when Rowan Klein touched down.
Crowley however got one back for the Seagulls when he bewildered the defence again; this time from 15m out, making the Chook Pen very happy and pushed the scores out to 24-12.
The next Valleys four pointer came from an outstanding effort from Watene. From a standing start six metres out; he resembled a fishing trawler as he carried five Seagulls over the try line.
Wynnum Manly’s Ngarima Pita then scored soon after, but it was too late and Valleys went through to this weekend’s game with their 30-16 win.
The Seagulls will next play the minor semi-final against the Panthers at home on Saturday after the West Brisbane side won the elimination final against Easts.
The game had all the ingredients for a close encounter and the Tigers started well after peppering the Panthers tryline for the first 15 minutes at Kev McKell Oval.
However, it was the Panthers who scored first after Kane Zalewski took the ball to the line on the sixth tackle and fired a face ball to Kennedy Pettybourne to go over out wide.
Easts hit back when Anton Iaria scored four minutes later to lock it up 6-6. They went ahead when firstly Kevin Bell crossed and Iaria for his second, with the Tigers scoring three tries from three consecutive sets to lead 18-6.
It took a brilliant bit of timing from Luke Strasser for the Panthers to get back into the contest.
Taking the ball to the defence, he spotted a gap and put Ethan Marrinan through untouched.
Three and a half minutes before the break, again Strasser spotted an opening, and this time he went through himself to lock it up 18-18.
In all, every try scored in the first half was a result of an error from the opposition.
Panthers super utility Ashley Harawira-Naera had been going through a try scoring drought, but he was able to claim on when he charged onto a short ball from Troy Swift.
Zalewski fired a cut out pass to put Pettybourne in for his second. To add an accent to their season-extending win; Zalewski kicked a field goal two minutes from fulltime to end the Tigers season 31-18.
RESULTS - IN SAFE HANDS CUP
WEEK 1 FINALS SERIES – August 26, 2017
West Brisbane Panthers 31 (Kennedy Pettyborne 2, Luke Strasser, Ashley Harawira-Naera, Josh Afoa tries; Kane Zalewski 5 goals and a field goals) defeated Easts Tigers 18 (Anton Iaria 2, Kevin Bell tries; Brandon Downey 3 goals)
Valleys Diehards 30 (Stacey Everitt, Rowan Klein, Dylan Smith, Rajan Opetaia-Halls, Troyden Watene tries; Troyden Watene 5 goals) defeated Wynnum Manly Seagulls 16 (Hayden Crowley 2, Ngarima Pita tries; Mitchell Ensby 2 goals)
This weekend’s games:
Major Semi Final: Redcliffe Dolphins v Valleys Diehards at Dolphin Oval on Saturday, September 2, 2017 – 4pm
Minor Semi Final: Wynnum Manly Seagulls v West Brisbane Panthers at BMD Kougari Oval on Saturday, September 2, 2017 – 3pm