Mal Meninga semi final previews

A place in this year's Mal Meninga Cup grand final goes on the line for four teams this Sunday. 

Norths Devils v Mackay Cutters at Davies Park, West End – 1pm

Norths have produced a flawless season so far and have conquered all before them to finish undefeated in the Mal Meninga Cup.

They boast the competition's best defensive record, conceding an average of only 12 points a game in a competition notorious for its prolific point scoring.

Led by captain Cory Paix, the Devils have been able to consistently outplay their opponents, with their ability to control possession and defend their goal-line among the trademarks of their season.

Middle forwards Ethan Bullemor and Jordan Riki have been among North's best each week as they continue to lay a solid platform for their side.

Their opponents this weekend flying the flag for North Queensland, and have themselves produced an impressive season to date.

Their lone defeat came in Round 6 at the hands of Ipswich; but aside from this blemish, their ability to overcome the rigours of long-distance travel and consistently produce a quality performances have been admirable.

Under the guidance of former NRL stalwart Grant Rovelli, the Cutters have been able to win tough. Their unrelenting and rugged style of play is in contrast to the point scoring of the other three semi-final teams.

Mackay captain Tom Irelandes has led from the front, with the backrower consistently producing tradesman-like performances that typify the team-first attitude of the Cutters.

With a tough, physical game of finals football looming, both sides will be looking to their forward packs to win the battle in the middle of the park.

Ball control and discipline will be on the lips of both coaches and in a game featuring two teams that play a similar style of football, taking their opportunities will be of the highest importance.

Tweed Heads Seagulls v Souths Logan Magpies at Davies Park, West End – 3pm

Souths Logan Magpies and Tweed Heads will meet in a blockbuster second semi-final showdown that will see the competition's two most exciting attacking teams come together for the first time this season.

With losses early in the season often proving difficult to overcome in the Mal Meninga Cup format, Tweed have managed to defy this trend to string six consecutive wins together and boast the competitions best for-and-against record.

In terms of statistics, the Seagulls have piled on the points in recent weeks with a tally of 186 points in the last three games. Their capacity to score points from anywhere on the park has been complemented by their defensive starch, with the Seagulls only conceding an average of 13 points per game.

Two key cogs of the Seagulls points machine this season has been the halves pairing of Toby Sexton and Tom Dearden. Aside from steering the side around effectively, the duo has made their presence felt on the scoreboard too, with Sexton leading the competition in points with 94 from six games whilst his halves partner has crossed for 10 tries to sit second in that category.

Coach Brad Davis paid tribute to his side's balance across the park and credited his middle forwards for laying the platform to allow the outside backs to capitalise.

The Magpies will have the luxury of playing at home on Sunday and they will look to draw on their home crowd to get them across the line against the Seagulls.

Like Tweed, their attacking prowess has been the forefront of their play with Magpies captain David Fifita consistently wreaking havoc down the right edge. The backrower leads the competition with an incredible 12 tries from six games and his fend, offload and footwork have made him a multi-faceted threat to opposition defences.

He has been ably supported by halfback Tanah Boyd, who has returned in good touch from injury, while Ezra Coulston and Fanitesi Niu have been electric on the edges.

In a game that will feature some of Queensland's best emerging young talent, defence will be a key theme in both coach's preparations.

With an abundance of points forecast, and both sides possessing players who are capable to score from anywhere on the park, the game will be decided by the side who can control possession and defend their line best.

>> Follow the scores for this weekend's Mal Meninga Cup games at QRL Live

Extra Time Rules:

11.7. 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.
11.8. 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.
11.9. 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.
11.10. 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
11.11. 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.
11.12. If a try is scored in extra time the conversion kick will not be permitted.