Diehards and Gulls ready for In Safe Hands Cup decider

Either Valleys Diehards or Wynnum Manly Seagulls will become the first team to win the In Safe Hands Cup for a second time when they meet in the grand final on Saturday.

The 2017 and the 2018 premiers will line up at Bishop Park from 3pm, with one of them guaranteed to become the first to win multiple titles since the reintroduction of the Brisbane A Grade competition in 2015.

This will be the Seagulls third grand final appearance, equalling Redcliffe who played in the 2016, 2017 and 2018 deciders.

The Gulls contested the inaugural decider at Langlands Park against Ipswich in 2015 (a 26-16 loss) when they played as the Redland City Seagulls and were coached by Ron Troutman, their current coach.

Wynnum Manly also played in and won last year’s final against the Redcliffe Dolphins 28-20.

Valleys have the perfect grand final strike rate, winning their only appearance by defeating Redcliffe in 2017, 16-12.

Valleys will be rested up after earning a week off when they defeated the Panthers 38-20 in the major semi-final on Sunday September 7 at Bishop Park.

The day before, the Seagulls eliminated Easts to book a place in the preliminary final against West Brisbane. The Gulls registered a comfortable 40-20 at Frank Lind Oval to progress to Saturday’s finale.

The Diehards have named a 19-man squad with two to be omitted which is a turn around for coach Craig Kennedy, who at times throughout the season could only name 15 players midweek such was the shortage of troops.

Luke Archer returns to the wing to make way for Liam Horne in the centres. David Fauid will start on the wing, giving Kennedy the option to run the dynamic Zac Friend on when the energy levels are lowering.

Giant number six Kobe Hetherington will partner the razzle dazzle of half Simon Brittain-Snowden, to combine with hooker Jack Miers and the strong running fullback Jayden Baker to complete an explosive spine for the Diehards.

Valleys’ forward pack consists of players all capable of producing 80 minutes of football. Brad Frith, who it seems can play anywhere including the front row, will be one for the Seagulls to watch when he is called upon.

Joe McGuire has also been one to draw attention when let off the leash. The forwards will be led by the Ice Man, Joe Bradley.

The Seagulls are building at the right end of the season. While their last six games have all had the season axe hanging over their heads, they have managed to walk the tight rope.

Back-to-back wins against a talented and determined Tigers outfit had them primed for the Panthers last week.

The same 17 have been named, but for one very noticeable omission. Last week’s player of the match and dual try scorer John Te Reo may have played his last game as the veteran has been suspended for a dangerous tackle.

Brad Mana had a blinder last week both in attack and defence to back up his quality performance from the week before against the Tigers.

Mana, along with his fellow imposing forward pack have been doing as they please up the middle of the park. Props Lucky Ta’avale and Semisi Ahoafi have come out of the gates looking for total destruction on anyone in their way.

Backrower Sam Elliott seems to have the genes of the Incredible Hulk. The angrier he gets, the more menacing he becomes, almost busting out of the green Gulls jersey as has his damaging ball carrying avenger ally Corey ‘The Thing’ Davis.

While the Gulls will be without Te Reo, Edwin Ipape remains as the game changer. The blistering pace and side-stepping marvel will be the focal point of the Diehards defence and the Seagulls attack.

With ball in hand, Ipape will have the pundits holding their breath as to what he will dish up and with the equally mesmerising Tristan Hope the Seagulls are set to fire against a rested and ready Diehards.

In Safe Hands Cup grand final team lists

Valleys Diehards v Wynnum Manly Seagulls – Saturday, September 21 at Bishop Park - 3pm

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Valleys Diehards

1. Jayden Baker 2. David Fauid 3. Liam Horne 4. Sam Collins 5. Luke Archer 6. Kobe Hetherington 7. Simon Brittain-Snowden 8. Lilomaiava Mago 9. Jack Miers 10. Hiale Roycroft 11. Joe Bradley 12. Ethan Richards 13. Moses Noovao-McGreal 14. Brad Frith 15. Joe McGuire 16. Zac Friend 17. Patrick Akaoula 18. Brodie Baker 19 Jacob Kelly (two to be omitted)

Coach: Craig Kennedy

Wynnum Manly Seagulls

1. Matt Milson 2. Harlan Collins 3. Mitch McMillan 4. James Toole 5. Rashaun Denny 6. John Te Reo 7. Edwin Ipape 8. Lucky Ta’avale 9. Tristan Hope 10. Semisi Ahoafi 11. Brad Mana 12. Sam Elliott 13. Corey Davis 14. Reece McKenzie – O’Brien 15. Andrew Clayton 16. Rahdly Brawa 17. Zane Holleran

Coach: Ron Troutman

The 2019 season at a glance

  • After 20 regular season rounds and two weekends of finals the In Safe Hands Cup the season will come to an end this Saturday.
  • The West Brisbane Panthers were minor premiers after winning 16 of their 20 outings. The Valleys Diehards finished second, Easts Tigers third and the Wynnum Manly Seagulls fourth. The top four contested finals.
  • The Redcliffe Dolphins (5th) and the Souths Logan Magpies (6th) had their seasons end after Round 20.
  • Out of the 60 regular season games there were no draws and only two field goals. Eight games were decided by just two points.
  • The Seagulls were the only side to finish a game without scoring a point, going down to the Tigers 34-0 at Kougari Oval in Round 10. Redcliffe posted the widest margin defeating Souths Logan 66-18 in Round 18.