This weekend’s Hastings Deerings Colts competition will see two cracking games with some familiar faces returning for an encore performance.
Redcliffe Dolphins last made this stage in 2017 when they beat Western Mustangs 34-14 and then went on to win the grand final 34-12 over Mackay Cutters. That victorious team featured now regular members of Redcliffe’s Intrust Super Cup side including Trai Fuller and Will Partridge.
The following year in 2018, Townsville Blackhawks beat the Northern Pride 26-22 to earn their way into the decider against Norths Devils who proved too good on the day at Suncorp Stadium.
In the last grand final before the COVID-19 shutdown, it was Wynnum Manly Seagulls and Sunshine Coast Falcons fronting up, with both sides winning to play each other in the grand final.
All four teams are back again trying to make sure they will be the ones playing next week in the culmination of the 2021 season.
The Falcons and Blackhawks will be first to face off at Moreton Daily Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Match: Falcons v Blackhawks
Finals Week 3 -
Venue: Moreton Daily Stadium, Redcliffe
Sunshine Coast Falcons v Townsville Blackhawks
Townsville conquered Souths Logan Magpies last week with a 26-6 win. The Blackhawks enjoyed 54 per cent of the ball and produced nine linebreaks; however, they will be keen to reproduce the defensive effort which saw them restrict their opposition to zero line breaks.
The Blackhawks scrambled well and prevented the Magpies from scoring until the 66th minute.
At the centre of that was the effort of Jordan Lipp who produced 289 metres and a try. Zachery McMinn was a key part of Townsville’s great defence, making 32 tackles in the game.
Lipp is a try-scoring wizard for the Blackhawks and has amassed 16 so far this season.
The two teams have played once this season with the Falcons claiming a 12-10 win in Round 3.
Townsville coach Dave Elliott said he and his team were ready for the Falcons.
“Our defence was really good against the Magpies, we missed some tackles, but we were desperate and wanted to keep our line,” Elliott said.
“Magpies have plenty of points and to keep a team that scored 70 the week before to six is a great effort.
“I will be looking for that desperate defence again.
“What we do need to control is the ball, when and where we give it to the Falcons.”
The Falcons haven’t played since their win over Wynnum Manly 36-16 in Week 1, with the win earning them a break in Week 2.
Falcons coach Jamie Vogler thought the centres would play a big role in deciding how the grand final qualifier would be won.
“I think both centres have been terrific this season; the Blackhawks' two centres make metres all game,” Vogler said.
“Lipp and (Zac) Laybutt have caused problems for everyone, but I think our two centres Jack Aiken and Kane Jackson have been great.
“Our hooker Nick Ellems has been an attacking danger the last month and our fullback Blake Wilson.”
Vogler was unsure of the impact the week off would have on the Falcons – or if beating Wynnum Manly in their opening final would put a target on the backs of the young Falcons.
“We are not going to know if the week off has helped us or hindered us until Saturday, but we have had a chance to freshen up and get over some niggles,” Vogler said.
“We are still the premiers from 2019, so I don’t think beating Wynnum (Manly) made people sit up too much, Wynnum (Manly) are the best team all year; how we played that game is our standard, but I think people see the Falcons and want to knock off the premiers too.”
The Dolphins and Wynnum Manly are the second preliminary finals game and these two traditional rivals will be wanting to make sure they’re playing next week.
Match: Dolphins v WM Seagulls
Finals Week 3 -
Venue: Moreton Daily Stadium, Redcliffe
Redcliffe Dolphins v Wynnum Manly Seagulls
Wynnum Manly have been the team to beat all season, finishing first. However, they suffered a slight hiccup Week 1 of the final, falling to a loss to the Falcons.
In their match, the Dolphins beat the Blackhawks 40-16 and had Week 2 sitting at home watching and waiting to see who their opposition would be.
Their first week loss meant the Seagulls had to come up against Mackay Cutters last week to win through to this weekend’s crunch match.
The Seagulls found themselves behind at half-time 18-14, but rallied against a brave Cutters to get home 39-28.
The Blackhawks may have the leading try scorer, but Wynnum Manly have the leading points scorer for the Colts in Braden Whittaker with 182 points to his name.
Whittaker was at it again last weekend, posting 14 points.
Wynnum Manly did it tough with no ball – they only had 43 per cent of the possession, but produced some great defence and only missed 32 tackles.
This weekend, the Seagulls will be looking for a greater display of discipline after giving away seven penalties to give the ball to the Cutters.
Wynnum Manly coach Michael Dobson was getting his team ready for the challenge of the Dolphins.
“The Cutters were a significant challenge, they played well and we certainly had to perform to beat them,” Dobson said.
“The Dolphins will be another challenge that we have to overcome to be playing next week, which is what we want to do.
“Harrison Graham has been tremendous for us since he came back (from the Intrust Super Cup), I think he will play a big part again this week.”
The Dolphins had last weekend off to prepare and coach Scott Murray said he was ready for Week 3 and anything the Seagulls might throw up.
“We know that Wynnum (Manly) have been fantastic this year, they’re a great team,” Murray said.
“The week off is a tricky one, it means you have extra time to prepare, and no chance of getting injured, so they’re both positive.
“We have looked at the way that the Falcons beat the Seagulls and certainly might be something there for us.
“I think our spine will be the key for us, Cody Hunter, Toby Elliot and our fullback Thaj Wood.”