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A grade preview: Week two of Bundy finals as Toowoomba teams fight for spots

Waves Tigers and Past Brothers will relish the extra spotlight when they meet in the Bundaberg Broadcasters A Grade Premiership major semi-final this Sunday, in the curtain-raiser to the Canterbury Bulldogs v North Queensland Cowboys NRL showdown.

Waves were minor premiers and coach Antonio Kaufusi said having last week off “was a good thing” as they come up against a Brothers side which accounted for a depleted Hervey Bay Seagulls 42-22 in the qualifying final last Saturday.

“We had a really tough game against Hervey Bay down there a week before (winning 12-6) and we had some really sore bodies, but we are fit and will be full strength, and I’m really happy with how the boys trained (yesterday) afternoon and we are looking in good shape to be fair,” Kaufusi said.

“But I’m thinking it will be a really, really tight game. I watched Brothers in the first half against Hervey Bay. It was the first time I’ve been to footy in a while (after travelling to Les Angeles at the start of July to be with his gravely ill father), and they looked like a really different team to last time I saw them.

"They are peaking at the right time and are balanced around the whole team. Pat Templeman is a really good inclusion for them.

“I’ve got no illusions – Kevin Sherriff and Tyla Hodge will lead them from the front, and I think it’s going to be won in the forwards, and if can hold them up, it will give us a good shot.

“But the carrot is there with the opportunity to go straight through to the final – I got a good eye on players I had not seen play before. I obviously missed the game when Brothers beat us 40-18 (three weeks ago) but I’ve watched a bit of footage, and they beat us up the middle, and we have to match that and try to keep Pat Templeman and Jake Thompson a bit quiet if we can.”

Waves have triumphed in 10 of their last 11 matches and won 11 games to Brothers’ eight during the regular season.

“The finals are a different kettle of fish, and this is where it counts – we have an earlier game (than the usual 4.30pm or 6.30pm time slot) and will be in different sheds (with the Bulldogs and Cowboys taking over the clubs’ regular dressing rooms), but if can keep things normal, it will go a long way to us playing well,” Kaufusi said.

“We are lucky to have Jacob O’Shea back for three weeks now and he has been awesome all year, along with co-captains Daniel McLennan and Reece Maughan, and young Brendan Grills and Jensen Deamer in their first years at club, and it’s a bit special this week too, playing before the NRL boys, but it doesn’t mean anything if we don’t play like we have been training.”

Eighteen-year-old rising talent Eden Hess will again be part of the Brothers team, before cheering on his big brother Coen for the Cowboys.

The Brethren are the two-times defending champions and their coach Andrew Hamilton has them primed in their quest for a hat-trick of titles.

Meanwhile, Hervey Bay Seagulls will take on Wests Panthers in the minor semi-final at Brothers Sports Club tomorrow at 3.30pm.

Seagulls coach Jacob Blanke is hoping to have a string of their stars back, but he is also expecting a tough battle with the Panthers, who came back from a 20-6 deficit in the first half of the elimination final against Easts Magpies, and also came from behind in extra-time to clinch an upset 34-26 victory.

Main image: Past Brothers front rower Tyla Hodge charges into the fray in their victory over Waves Tigers on July 16.

Toowoomba A Grade Round 16 previews

Saturday, August 6

6pm: Goondiwindi Boars v Dalby Diehards, Gilbert Oval

This will be the match of the round as Dalby and Goondiwindi play each other with a lot on the line - home finals, a crack at third spot, double chances in the finals.

A loss for Goondiwindi is not an option as they have Wattles and Highfields in the run home. Whereas a win for Dalby would all but seal a finals berth given they have Pittsworth and Newtown. 

Goondiwindi are going well and will be ready but Dalby have always been competitive when they’ve played the Boars in Goondiwindi.

The Diehards played better last week and they will have Travis Babington and possibly Steve Franciscus. 

The battle between Alexander Dunnemann and Chris Woodbridge will be the key, both in defence and in attack.

These two young guns are so exciting to watch.

Each side has plenty of game breakers and this is going to be one hell of a game.

6pm: Newtown Lions v Toowoomba Valleys Roosters, Jack Martin Centre

It’s been a long season for the Bluebags but week in, week out, they keep turning up and this week there is nothing better than playing old foes, Valleys.

These clubs go back a long way. They are both proud clubs and they will be competitive in all grades.

Sunday, August 7

2.30pm: Pittsworth Danes v Gatton Hawks, Club Pittsworth

Danes v Hawks games are always good fixtures and while Gatton should win this match, we will be entertained by both sides.

Lipp versus O’Sullivan will be good to watch2. Both are quality players as they have the ability to lift their respective sides.

Gatton are humming at the moment and will leave no stone unturned as they have qualified officially for the finals in 2022. It’s been a while and they deserve it.

2.30pm: Highfields Eagles v Oakey Bears, Western Field, Kuhls Road

Can Oakey go one step further and actually beat a finals-bound team?

Try and tell them they can’t win here.

What a great injection for them last week’s draw was for the Bears.

Their confidence will be sky-high and they are facing a Highfields Eagles sides that had their wings clipped last week. 

This will be an excellent game. Highfields will be hurting after last week and they will not want to let their guard down against the resurgent Bears as they have a couple of real tough games coming against Gatton and Goondiwindi if they want to secure a top three berth. 

By his own admission, Cory McGrady had a game he’d like to forget last week. He is such a champion and will bounce back. It will be Jazz Namana’s chance to show the best what he is made of. 

But Highfields have too much at stake to let this one go. 

2.30pm: Southern Suburbs Tigers v Wattles Warriors, Gold Park

Souths Tigers host Wattles in this game.

The Tigers are hanging in at the moment and will be a competitive force against the last start winners.

Souths were good against Brothers last week and will turn up in this contest. You never know in this one, Wattles are wounded at the moment and will be there for the taking.

But the Warriors have good depth this year, with both A and reserve grade teams on top of the ladder. 

2.30pm: Warwick Cowboys v Toowoomba Brothers, Father Ranger Oval

Plenty to play for when Brothers take on Warwick at Father Ranger Oval this weekend.

Brothers have hit some late season form last round and will be wanting to show the Cowboys it was no fluke. 

If any club has pride, it’s the Cowboys. They were gracious in defeat last weekend. They are such a close-knit group.

Sam Betros v Mitch Wilson is the key in this match.

Both steer their respective teams around nicely but it’s their kicking games that will go a long way to deciding this match.

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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