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Valleys finish on top ahead of finals

The Valleys Diehards are this year's In Safe Hands Cup minor premiers and in added bonus, the club's Reserve Grade side has also finished on top at the end of the regular season.

A 34-32 loss by the Seagulls to the Tigers and a 22-22 draw for the Diehards over Pine Rivers was enough for the silverware to make Emerson Park its home for the next year.

The Bears had an opportunity to snatch a win when the conversion from just to the left of the uprights went wide, meaning Wynnum Manly would've been crowned minor premiers, despite their loss.

Both the Seagulls and Diehards now have the week off, leaving four clubs playing in sudden-death elimination finals this weekend.

Since the rebirth of the In Safe Hands Cup in 2015, no minor premiership team has gone on to win the grand final; two have won from second, two have won from third and one has won from fourth.

Wests and Wynnum are appearing in their sixth-straight finals series; meanwhile, it's Valleys' third in their six seasons, and the first year of finals for Carina, Normanby and Pine Rivers.

Looking ahead to week one of the finals and West Brisbane will take on the Bears at Mitchelton from 3pm.

The Panthers have done enough to finish fourth this season, but they are yet to play to their potential.

Captain Kyle Van Klaveren returns to fullback - a position he has not started in since Round 1.

Bryce Donovan has been ruled out with regular fullback Gerard McCullum filling his position in the halves.

Once again, the Panthers have a reshuffled backline while the 'fronties' have been doing the job up front led by Michael Molo, a contender for player of the season.

Pine Rivers have exploded in the last few rounds and proof of that is last week's draw with the minor premiers.

Will Partridge, Kurt Shayler and Nat McGavin have been dynamic and the mercurial Joe Bond returns to join skipper Hayden Herbert, complimenting the Bears' mobile and cagey forwards.

Pine Rivers' biggest problem will be containing the Panthers wizard with the head gear, Tommy Butterfield.

This year, Wests won both their matchups convincingly - 46-12 in Round 2 and 30-18 in Round 9 - so it's theirs to lose this afternoon.

The competition dark horses, Carina bounced back from their Round 9 draw with a win over the Seagulls.

They should've put more points on the board after the 'Gulls lost Max Elliott when he was sent off, but they'll take the win.

The Zen of Tiger Brayden Torpy is spreading amongst his cohorts as they look to confirm their early season favouritism when they come up the Hounds.

Carina will be without the mobile and elusive Jarred Tuite, but will lose nothing with the inclusion of Jake Elmore.

For the Hounds, the culture and spirit drilled into the squad by coach Luke Srama and the 'God of the Thunder' Sam Gardel has led to this finals appearance and they are not ready to bow out just yet.

Captain Alehana Mara returns for Normanby at nine to add some extra zing, with the punishing Cruise Ten looking to follow up his outstanding form at lock.

Head to head this season, Carina won their Round 2 match 34-20, but the Hounds heaped a mound of pressure on the Tigers in Round 9, drawing 30-30... it shall be a fascinating contest at Leo Williams Oval.

Week 1 finals fixtures

Saturday, October 3

Time Match Venue
3pm West Brisbane Panthers (4) v Pine Rivers Bears (5) Frank Lind Oval, Mitchelton
4.30pm Carina Tigers (3) v Normanby Hounds (6) Leo Williams Oval, Carina

*Main image courtesy of Vanessa Hafner