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Fierce finals face off ahead for Cutters and Seagulls

After upsetting minor premiers Townsville Blackhawks in last weekend’s semi-finals matchup, the Mackay Cutters travel for their third consecutive weekend of finals football to face-off against a high flying and well-rested Wynnum Manly Seagulls at Jack Manski Oval in Townsville.

After blowing away the Blackhawks in the first half to go into the halftime break 18-0 ahead, the Cutters held firm and kept their opponents to just one converted try in the second half to book a preliminary finals meeting with the Seagulls this weekend.

Mackay Cutters coach Michael Comerford said his side had navigated some tough fixtures expertly to give themselves the best chance to go all the way.

“Our group of young guys is rightfully very excited, we got the job done last weekend thanks to an incredible group effort but now we have another big job ahead of us,” Comerford said.

Cutters captain Brendan White will celebrate his 50th Hastings Deering Colts game in this weekend’s preliminary final, after playing each week for the past two seasons.

Comerford said his side had spent their post-season run focusing on the defending as a unit.

“Wynnum are a team who have been able to put up 40+ points consistently during the season, that’s something we need to be wary of,” Comerford said.

“We’ve always seen that at Under 20s level, there is a problem with leaking points, and we have been working really hard on the extra effort in defence to give us the best chance at winning games.”

The Wynnum Manly Seagulls come into this weekend’s preliminary finals after a week’s break from the Hastings Deering Colts finals series, thanks to a strong performance to overcome the Burleigh Bears 24-19 at home in week one of the finals.

With the extra week’s rest under their belts, Wynnum Manly coach Joe O'Callaghan said his players were feeling relaxed and prepared for a big preliminary final.

“Winning the first week of the finals has given our boys a chance to rest for the last couple of days, it’s what we do with this extra rest and recovery that will count on the weekend,” O’Callaghan said.

Wynnum Manly star young hooker Jake Simpkin will be playing in his final Hastings Deering Colts preliminary final after accepting a full NRL contract with the West Tigers for the 2020 season.

O’Callaghan said that his young side were all worthy of the praise they received during the season.

“We’ve had a terrific group of players in our side in 2019, some of our players have gone unnoticed during the season, but within our structure each player knows just how important they are for the success of the club,” O’Callaghan said.

Wynnum Manly have seen a multitude of successes as a club in 2019, including an Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup grand final appearance, a chance to defend the Brisbane Rugby League In Safe Hands trophy they took home last season, and their Intrust Super Cup side also playing in this weekend’s preliminary finals.

O’Callaghan said the mood in the club in the post season has reflected their on-field results.

“Both us and the Intrust Super Cup team are only (two good halves) away from achieving a weekend of grand finals,” O’Callaghan said.

“We’ve hit all of the minimum standards after a terrific year, but now we want more.”