This year’s closely contested Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup competition is set to go down to the wire; with the first knockout semi-final between the Wynnum Manly Seagulls and Sunshine Coast Falcons taking place at BMD Kougari Oval at 1.45pm this Saturday.
When the Falcons and Seagulls met earlier this year in Round 1, the Brisbane-based Seagulls prevailed as emphatic 42-10 winners; but fans can expect to a far closer encounter when the second (Wynnum Manly) and third (Sunshine Coast) ranked sides meet.
Match: WM Seagulls v Falcons
Finals Week 1 -
Venue: BMD Kougari Oval
The Seagulls will be looking to bounce back from a shock 23-22 loss to the Burleigh Bears in the final round, while the Falcons have enjoyed a five-game winning streak since their initial Round 1 loss.
Wynnum Manly coach Jody Barlow was confident his side could overcome their latest hiccup and return to their winning ways.
“They know what they have to do,” Barlow said. “It’s up to each individual doing what they need to do for the team, and if we execute the way we want to play, we should get the job done.”
This Saturday’s blockbuster encounter will be the Seagulls first appearance in the Under 18 finals in five years, and Barlow was hoping to see plenty of support for his side as they aim to go all the way in 2019.
“Our Wynnum BRL side is playing beforehand, so hopefully the wider Seagulls community comes out and supports our guys.
“It’s the first time in five years we’ve had a team in the finals for the Under 18s, so it’s a pretty big thing for us,” he said.
Sunshine Coast Falcons coach Danny Gray said his side would be sticking to what has worked for them already this year as they prepare to face the tough Wynnum outfit.
“We’ll approach this game just as we have gone about the whole season - working hard, working for each other, and we’ll just stick to what we know and to the things that have gotten us to where we are,” Gray said.
Gray credited the exciting individual talent on display at the club, but praised the commitment from the whole squad to get them all the way to the finals.
“The likes of Riley Price (lock) and Trent Loiero (forward) are two of the forwards that have been outstanding for us throughout the whole campaign; but our whole squad has worked really hard, and they really work for each other,” he said.