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A grade preview: Final chances in Bundy and Toowoomba

There has been nothing between Waves Tigers and Hervey Bay Seagulls all season and another epic duel is again expected between the two sides in the Bundaberg Broadcasters A Grade Premiership preliminary final.

The Tigers clinched the minor premiership at the Seagulls’ expense with a tough last-round 12-6 victory over them at Stafford Park when the Bay were missing three of their biggest guns.

Waves were subsequently edged out by two-times defending champions Past Brothers 20-18 in the major semi-final a fortnight ago, while a depleted Hervey Bay were beaten by the Brethren 42-22 in the qualifying final, before downing Wests Panthers 8-4 in the minor semi-final.

Waves and Hervey Bay will meet at Salter Oval at 3.30pm today and both teams will be without one of their stars, with Waves missing rugged interchange front rower Nick Samra with a knee injury, and Hervey Bay weakened by the absence of young second row powerhouse Max Shorter, who was suspended from the Panthers’ match.

Waves coach Antonio Kaufusi returned to training this week after missing the previous six weeks during the hospitalisation of his father in United States and his sad passing in Brisbane a fortnight ago, and he said his players had benefitted from the week off after the fierce encounter with Brothers.

Kaufusi has full confidence in Jake McLennan, who will replace Samra in the 17.

“We are as prepared as we could be, but it is a really big game against Hervey Bay and we under no illusion that it is going to be a tough game,” Kaufusi said.

“They are a young side with a lot of energy, and they will try and bash us up the front door, but the game will probably come down to a defining moment and hopefully we can handle it better than we did against Brothers.

“I always base my philosophy around a team mentality, and we have got a good core of senior players who have been fantastic all year - co-captains Dan McLennan and Reece Maughan, Jacob O’Shea, and Ross Larsen - and they will certainly hold us in good stead.”

The Seagulls were bitterly disappointed to have Shorter rubbed out, but they have great depth.

Their coach Jacob Blanke said everyone was very determined to make it to the big dance after last year, when they came from fourth position to be on the verge of a monumental upset, leading Brothers 14-4 at half-time in the preliminary final, before being blown away in the second stanza, conceding an unanswered 30 points.

“We have trained well and are confident we can test Waves,” Blanke said.

The Seagulls are chasing a place in the grand final for the first time since 2016, when they accounted for Waves 20-12 for their maiden BRL A Grade title.

Toowoomba A grade Round 18 previews

The last round of the competition is upon us and places in all grades are up for grabs.

In A grade, the minor premiership will be decided.

Gatton have the better for-and-against but if they lose to Valleys, and Wattles defeat Warwick, Wattles will be minor premiers. 

Highfields and Goondiwindi play for third spot and a second chance, however it is not all too bad for the loser as they secure a home final. Dalby meanwhile have secured fifth spot.

In the women's, Gatton have secured the minor premiership.

If Gatton lose to Valleys and Highfields defeat Goondiwindi, then Valleys get a double chance in the finals by securing third position.

If Goondiwindi defeat Highfields, they secure a double chance and third spot.

A Grade men's fixtures

Saturday, August 20

4.30pm: Highfields Eagles v Goondiwindi Boars

5pm: Toowoomba Brothers v Oakey Bears

6.30pm: Warwick Cowboys v Wattles Warriors

Sunday, August 21

2.30pm: Southern Suburbs Tigers v Pittsworth Danes

2.30pm: Toowoomba Valleys Roosters v Gatton Hawks

2.30pm: Newtown Lions v Dalby Diehards

A Grade women's fixtures

Saturday, August 20

1.45pm: Highfields Eagles v Goondiwindi Boars

6.30pm: Toowoomba Brothers v Oakey Bears

Sunday, August 21

10.10am: Toowoomba Valleys Roosters v Gatton Hawks

11.50am: Newtown Lions v Dalby Diehards       

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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