Finals are here in the Hasting Deering Colts and it’s an exciting top eight that will now play off for the right to be premiers for 2022.
On Sunday, all attention will be on the Sunshine Coast Falcons and Mackay Cutters; nothing builds tension and desperation like an elimination game.
Match: Falcons v Cutters
Finals Week 1 -
Venue: Sunshine Coast Stadium, Sunshine Coast
However, the Falcons will want to leave their last round form at the front door of the finals, with their outing a 42-12 loss to the Dolphins not something the team will want to bring into this weekend.
The Falcons took too long to get moving against the Dolphins and were down 20-6 at half-time. This week, the Sunshine Coast will want to start with more enthusiasm.
The 48 missed tackles they recorded aren’t what finals are about either and that will have to be fixed this week.
This is sixth against seventh elimination game and one team will be left pondering season 2022 over summer at the end of this game.
It wasn’t that long ago they played and it was the Cutters that claimed a 24-20 two weeks ago.
Falcons coach Jamie Vogler has learned a lot not only from two weeks ago, but also from 12 months ago.
“Two weeks ago, the Cutters beat us by four and that’s relevant now, we need to be better than what we were that day,” Vogler said.
“(But) 12 months ago, we beat Wynnum Manly in Week 1 and then got the weekend off and lost badly to the Blackhawks.
“It’s a new team this year, but this year we will have no weeks off just straight momentum to build on and I think that’s a good thing.
"The Cutters have a solid core of players, Kane Simon at fullback is a danger, Brenton Baira in the centres and their halves are all threats to us.
“I want the boys to be excited, and I want us to take our chances, you don’t get many in finals you have to take them.”
The Cutters are finals ready after a massive 84-0 win over the Western Clydesdales.
Kane Simon recorded a huge 307 run metres for the Cutters and scored three tries.
The Cutters are a consistent finals performer at the Colts level and beat the Tigers in Week 1 last season and in 2019 beat Tweed, so they know what it takes to win finals.
Cutters coach Craig Kennedy knew it won’t be one star who shone in the finals, but that it would take a team effort.
“It’s going to take 17 players committed to defence, that’s who wins,” Kennedy said.
“If you have someone not do their job, then they will get found out and the Falcons will find it.
“They have some talented players Jai Smoothy is very important in the halves for them and their hooker Danny Henan is great for them.
“It’s finals so you have to be excited this is our whole year.”
Elsewhere in the competition, there will be three other great games.
Match: WM Seagulls v Capras
Finals Week 1 -
Venue: Browne Park, Rockhampton
Wynnum Manly Seagulls are the defending premiers and made the last three grand finals in a row and have also been minor premiers for the past three years in a row.
They have been an unstoppable force at this level, but rising challengers are Central Queensland Capras who have taken this year and shaken the life out of it to finish top four.
Upsets are always on the cards in the finals like when last season in Week 1, the Sunshine Coast Falcons beat Wynnum Manly 36-16. While the Seagulls recovered, it proved that they can be upset in finals.
Wynnum Manly beat the Bears last weekend by two points in the type of win that they would have been looking for before the finals.
Thier five-eighth Blake Moore got the Seagulls away to a great start with three tries in the first half and finished with a huge 189 run metres and three line breaks.
Capras are the finals new boys, having not made the finals before, but what better way to make a statement than causing a massive upset.
The Capras finished fourth and will fancy their chances this week. With Matthew Hill and Owen Pattie leading the way last weekend, the Central Queensland's last round win against Souths was comprehensive.
The Capras had 12 wins this season and will be keen to make sure they find number 13 this weekend.
Match: Blackhawks v Dolphins
Finals Week 1 -
Venue: Jack Manski Oval, Townsville
Blackhawks and Dolphins is the must watch game of the first week of finals.
Townsville finished second and haven’t lost since Round 11 against the Falcons.
The Blackhawks are the best attacking team in the competition with 642 points at an average of 40 points a game.
On the other side of the ball, Townsville had defended their try line like their life depends on it with 242 points at 15 points a game.
The last time the Blackhawks and Dolphins collided, it was Townsville winning by a point in the 13-12 victory.
The Blackhawks are coming off a 36-16 win over the Norths Devils where Jacob Mene got a try to finish with a tally of 26 tries for the year. He will be a weapon of attacking destruction for Townsville.
Townsville will be taking a home advantage into this finals game, but the Dolphins have finals form over the Blackhawks having beat them 40-16 last season in Week 1 of the finals.
The Dolphins finished in third place with 13 wins and are no slouches either in attack either with 552 points this season.
What will please the Dolphins more however is the defence they have shown throughout the season with 233 points at 14 points a game, one less than the Blackhawks.
The Dolphins had a similar win to the Blackhawks in the last round with a 42-12 win over the Falcons.
Can the Dolphins repeat their opening finals weekend heroics from 2021 in 2022?
Cody Hunter has played five Hostplus Cup games this season and will be bringing that enthusiasm and excitement back to the Dolphins.
Match: Tigers v Seagulls
Finals Week 1 -
Venue: Piggabeen Sports Complex, Tweed Heads
In a strange twist of finals fate, Tweed Seagulls and Brisbane Tigers played last week in the last round and will line up again in Week 1 of the finals.
Tigers won 42-12, so they will be keen to get at the Seagulls again and inflict some more damage to a wounded bird.
The Tigers had a finals intensity start to the game and never gave it back with three tries in the first 18 minutes.
It was 18-0 at half-time and that’s a lot to overcome. The Tigers finished with 58 per cent of the ball and that led to eight tries.
Tweed were forced to tackle their way out of trouble and made 84 more tackles and conceded seven penalties that kept giving the ball back to the Tigers.
Caleb Hodges was a solid performer for the Tweed with 127 run metres and one line break for a try right at the end.
Tweed need to get the ball in Tom Weaver and Jaylan De Groot’s hands as much as possible and in good attacking areas.
Weaver has 99 points this year and De Groot has 17 tries; it’s Tweed’s forwards job to get them in position to be able to influence the game.
Tweed will need to turn it around this week or they are finished for 2022.