Valleys still in finals race despite fifth straight loss

Defending champions Valleys remain in the top four despite slumping to their fifth consecutive loss at the hands of the Panthers in Round 18 of the In Safe Hands Cup.

No changes were made to the competition ladder in Round 18, as the top three sides defeated the bottom three sides, but the Tigers and Magpies remain in the chase thanks to Wests' 40-20 victory over the Diehards.

Valleys made the short pilgrimage to Kev McKell Oval from Emerson Park to take on the Panthers.

Wests have been in and out of form over the past seven weeks, but remain in the hunt for a top two finish while the Diehards are fighting to stay in the top four.

It didn't take long for the first try, 90 seconds in fact. A short Panthers kick off was allowed to bounce by the Diehards as Sam Collins, one of the three Collins' on the field, regathered for the home side.

The resulting field position allowed Michael Molo to smash over five tackles later and give the Panthers an early lead.

Another kick, this time in general play by Wests halfback Mikaere Beattie, led to their next try when Namila Davui swooped on the ball and raced 30 metres to make it 12-0 after just four minutes.

Seven minutes later and Wests were over again, this time hooker Adam Harris jumped out of dummy half from close range to take the contest out to 18-0.

Valleys finally got on the scoreboard when a Panthers pass found Diehards winger Michael Lucas. He galloped 70m to score in the 22nd minute and breathe some life into the defending champs.

Panthers skipper Kyle Van Klaveren soon took some of that breathe out of the Diehards by throwing a dummy and scoring in the shadows of halftime, stretching the lead to 24-6.

The Diehards needed to score first in the second half to stay in the contest, but it took the Panthers just 80 seconds to extend their lead even further as Gavin Causer brought down a Beattie bomb to score and extend the lead to 22 points.

Hooker Chris Aiton went over for the Diehards to reduce the deficit, but the game was as good as gone when Wests second rower Jordan Riki glided over to make it 34-12.

Michael Lucas scored his second try for Valleys and James Olds went over for the Panthers in the dying stages to bring the final score to 40-20.

Elsewhere, the Tigers, who impressed a week prior with a grinding win over the Panthers, would have fancied their chances against the Redcliffe Dolphins, but ultimately fell short. Redcliffe were too strong, winning 34-24.

Finally, Bayside were pushed all the way, once again, by the Magpies until the 78th minute when a late try to Mitchell Frei secured a 28-22 victory for the Seagulls.

>> UPDATED IN SAFE HANDS CUP DRAW - August 14

In Safe Hands Cup Round 18 results

Dolphins 34 (Rinsma Saueha 2, Justice Utatao, Moses Pangai, Radean Robinson, Agassi Stowers tries; Will Partridge 5 goals) defeated Tigers 24 (Harry Pondekas, Chris Ostwald, Gene Ropoama, Anton Iaria tries; Brandon Downey 4 goals)

Panthers 40 (Kyle Van Klaveren, Namila Davui, James Olds, Gavin Causer, Michael Molo, Adam Harris, Jordan Riki tries; Mikaere Beattie 6 goals) defeated Diehards 20 (Michael Lucas 3, Chris Aiton tries; Brett Doherty 2 goals)

Seagulls 28 (John Te Reo 2, Matthew Milson, Peter Gubb, Mitchell Frei tries; John Te Reo 4 goals) defeated Magpies 22 (Shaiquan Terekia 3, David Pritchard, Luke Archer tries; Sato Ketia-Opo goal)

In Safe Hands Cup Ladder   
1. Dolphins  42  87 
2. Panthers  41  47 
3. Seagulls  40  82 
4. Diehards  32  -96 
5. Tigers  31  57 
6. Magpies  30  -177 

* John Devine is a QRL correspondent covering the BRL A Grade competition