Two of the form teams in SEQW Division 1 will face off when Easts Tigers travel to Kev McKell Oval to take on West Brisbane Panthers tomorrow afternoon.
Panthers have picked up consecutive wins over Souths Magpies and Toowoomba by a combined margin of 66-10, while the Easts Tigers also beat Toowoomba in Round 2 before knocking over the previously unbeaten Brothers Ipswich 24-22 in a nail-biter.
The Tigers were able to finish the stronger in a hard-fought, physical contest and coach Duane Rehua said he was impressed with his side’s endurance.
“We’ve focussed a lot on our fitness this year and now we can see that reflecting in games,” he said.
“It was tough. It was just basically about hanging in there. I think towards the back end of the second half we were definitely finishing stronger and along with a string of possession and a few shots down their end we were able to put a couple of late tries on and get in front of them.”
A strong side across the park, the Tigers are led by a pair of Jillaroos who have started the year strongly.
Vanessa Foliaki has started the year with a bang, leading the try-scorers and point-scorers list from the second row, while fullback Karina Brown has been an established star in this competition for a number of years.
“Their experience, their professionalism and their approach to the bigger picture of the game in general is an asset to us as a team,” Rehua said.
“Overall, I think what makes us a tough team is the belief we have in the work we’ve done throughout pre-season.
"They’re all motivated, they train well - 100% effort at training every time - and I think that is one of our key areas showing where we’re going at the moment.”
Their promising start to the year has seen them move into a four-way share of the competition lead with 2017 grand finalists Burleigh and Brothers Ipswich as well as their Round 4 opponents, the Panthers.
With the memory of 2017 semi-finals defeat at the hands of Wests still fresh in their minds, the Tigers will have added motivation.
“Wests are always a good, tough game for us,” Rehua said. “We’ve had some good stoushes in the past; they’ve always been pretty close, and I expect the same tomorrow.
“They’re pretty good through the middle, they’ve got some good edge forwards who if you don’t move up on them they’ll cause you some grief and they seem to always be able to keep the ball alive; you can’t clock off on the inside because they’ll come back and get you there.
“We need to hold onto the football. We can’t be giving them any easy possession or turnovers. We need to end our sets well, kick well and put pressure on them with our defence.”
Kick-off between the Tigers and Panthers at Kev McKell Oval is tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon at 4.30pm.
Elsewhere in Round 4 action, Toowoomba host Burleigh at 4pm on Saturday while on Sunday, Souths Magpies hosts Brothers Ipswich from 10.15am.