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Round 7 in review: Junior statewide competitions

The Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup finals series has been locked in, with four teams still in the running for this year's premiership.

The Redcliffe Dolphins (winner of Pool C) and Wynnum Manly Seagulls (runners-up in Pool C) will kick off semi-finals action on Saturday, April 15, when they meet at North Ipswich Reserve at 11.30am.

Then the Ipswich Jets (winners of Pool B) will take on the Townsville Blackhawks (winners of Pool A) in the second semi-final from 1.15pm, also at North Ipswich Reserve.

The grand final will be played on Sunday, April 23, at Totally Workwear Stadium, with kick off at 1pm ahead of the 3pm Hostplus Cup clash between Brisbane Tigers and Western Clydesdales.

Here is a wrap of Round 7. 

Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup

Game of the week

The clash between the Wynnum Manly Seagulls and Redcliffe Dolphins was a teaser to what fans can expect in the first week of the Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup semi-finals - and what a preview it was.

The highly-anticipated Pool C showdown went right down to the wire and was decided by just two points, as Redcliffe clinched a 38-36 win in front of their home crowd at Kayo Stadium.

The Dolphins rushed out to a 10-0 lead, scoring two quick tries through John Fineanganofo and Jayden Butt. However, poor discipline from Redcliffe and the impressive direction of Wynnum Manly halfback Coby Black saw the Seagulls bounce back strongly to stop the Dolphins' momentum.

Wynnum Manly went into the halftime break up 18-16.

The second half continued as an arm wrestle, with the two sides going back and forth until Wynnum Manly had a 36-32 lead.

But a defiant Dolphins continued to push their case and capitalised off a series of Wynnum Manly mistakes to increase the pressure.

Then, with four minutes left on the clock, it was a barnstorming Elijah Rasmussen who beat four defenders to plant the ball over the line and equal the scores. A successful conversion to Tauave Leofa sealed the deal for the Dolphins and set the stage for a tantalising semi-finals showdown after the Easter break.

Other scores

Tweed Seagulls 40 def Burleigh Bears 22
Mackay Cutters 46 def Central Queensland Capras 16
Souths Logan Magpies 38 def Norths Devils 30
Ipswich Jets 23 def Wide Bay Bulls 22
Sunshine Coast Falcons 30 def Western Clydesdales 26
Townsville Blackhawks 32 def Northern Pride 16
Bye: Brisbane Tigers

Finals analysis

Four teams remain in contention to claim the 2023 Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup premiership, with semi-finals to take place after the Easter break.

Wynnum Manly and Redcliffe will reignite their rivalry after meeting in Round 7, with the pair to face off at 11.30am on Saturday, April 15, at North Ipswich Reserve.

On the other side of the draw, Northern pool winners Townsville Blackhawks will meet Central pool leaders Ipswich Jets on the same day from 1.15pm.

The Blackhawks will move into the finals series off the back of a strong 32-16 win over the Northern Pride while Ipswich managed to snare a last minute victory over the Wide Bay Bulls in Round 7, kicking a field goal to finish the game at 23-22.

Shout outs

The Redcliffe and Wynnum Manly forward packs have been standouts all season and have contributed majorly to the fact their teams finished at the top of the southeast pool.

They were in fine form again on Sunday - throwing everything at each other - and Dolphins prop Elijah Rasmussen was rewarded for his explosive form with two tries, including the match winner.

Wynnum Manly halfback Coby Black also steered his team around strongly while Redcliffe five-eighth John Fineanganofo was a constant danger throughout the match.

Elsewhere, Burleigh hooker Nayte Saaga was a shining light in a losing team while Tom Summer and Orlando Metuariki both bagged doubles for Tweed on the other side of field.

Souths Logan centre Israel Leota finished off his season in style with four tries to his name, while Mackay's Bailey Anderson and Norths' Brandon Norris earned a hat-trick each.

And for Ipswich, it was halfback Izaiah Mafi who kicked the match-winning field goal in an absolute thriller, claiming the win at the death for his finals-bound team.

Harvey Norman Under 19s

Game of the week

The Townsville Blackhawks ended season 2023 on a high, with a come-from-behind win over the Northern Pride.

The scoreline was at 8-6 to the Blackhawks from the 32nd minute until Pride lock Mackenzie Stephens barreled her way over to give her side a 10-6 lead in the 47th minute.

But Blackhawks were quick to hit back - and they just kept on coming - as halfback Jairel-Ellen Martin-Savage dove through to put her side back in the lead in the 53rd minute.

The Blackhawks then went on to score another two tries in the following six minutes, securing the win with a minute left on the clock.

Martin-Savage scored her second for the day in the 56th minute, barging her way past three defenders to extend the lead before forward Maria Wilson broke through for the final try of the day in the 59th minute.

Other scores

Burleigh Bears 38 def Tweed Seagulls 4
Ipswich Jets 68 def Wide Bay Bulls 4
Mackay Cutters 24 def Central Queensland Capras 8
Souths Logan Magpies 30 def Norths Devils 8
Sunshine Coast Falcons 22 def Western Clydesdales 4
Redcliffe Dolphins 16 def Wynnum Manly Seagulls 4
Bye: Brisbane Tigers

Mover of the week

The Ipswich Jets should take a bow after finishing season 2023 as the only Harvey Norman Under 19s team who went undefeated.

They sealed their season with a massive 68-4 win over the Wide Bay Bulls on Saturday. Playing in the Central pool, they were simply too strong for the Bulls, Sunshine Coast Falcons and Western Clydesdales this year.

Shout outs

In a hugely dominant team performance, Tiresa Elika scored a hat-trick for the Ipswich Jets on Saturday, while nine others also bagged four-pointers, including Heina Navosa who earned a double.

In Redcliffe, Aspen Nakao capped off an impressive individual season with another standout performance and earned a second half try for her efforts.

And in Townsville, halfback Jairel-Ellen Martin-Savage inspired her team's comeback while forward Maria Wilson made a huge impact for her side, constantly threatening the Pride when she had the ball in hand.

Cyril Connell Challenge

Game of the week

The Souths Logan Magpies and Norths Devils clash was a classic case of a "tale of two halves" on Saturday.

The Devils piled on four tries in the opening stanza to race out to a 24-4 halftime lead at Logan Metro Football Fields.

But the Magpies were not down and out, with the young side coming out fighting in the second half.

They scored four unanswered tries - two to centre Jose Ito, who scored Souths Logan's only first half try - to snatch a 26-24 victory.

The match winner came from second rower Ronnic Starkey, who stormed towards the line, slipping past two defenders to slam the ball down.

Fullback Tom Parker added the two points and locked in the win for his team with five minutes to go.

Other scores

Burleigh Bears 40 def Tweed Seagulls 4
Ipswich Jets 36 def Wide Bay Bulls 18
Mackay Cutters 28 def Central Queensland Capras 6
Townsville Blackhawks 38 def Northern Pride 12
Sunshine Coast Falcons 44 def Western Clydesdales 12
Redcliffe Dolphins 28 def Wynnum Manly Seagulls 10
Bye: Brisbane Tigers

Mover of the week

The Redcliffe Dolphins finished season 2023 as the only unbeaten team in the Cyril Connell Challenge.

They capped off their season with a 28-10 victory over Wynnum Manly Seagulls, in what was a dominant day for Redcliffe across the board.

Shout outs

Redcliffe five-eighth Carter Welfare scored a double in his side's season-ending victory over Wynnum Manly, while winger Talan Cross also bagged two tries from the opposite side of the park.

Sunshine Coast Falcons fullback Tyler Conquest and halfback Toby Irvine were an unstoppable combination in their 44-12 win over the Western Clydesdales.

Conquest scored a double and was a constant threat for the Falcons while silky Irvine was a massive danger player and also scored a four-pointer of his own.

Freeman Raftstrand-Smith scored a hat-trick for Burleigh Bears while Lincoln Baker also earned three tries for his efforts with Townsville.

Match official of the week

Hadyn Scott, on the right.
Hadyn Scott, on the right.

Haydn Scott from the Gladstone Referees has been a standout over the past two weeks, following up an impressive performance in Round 6 with a strong outing in the Harvey Norman Under 19s clash between Wide Bay Bulls and Ipswich Jets.

Scott recently returned to officiating after some time out of the game and has re-established his love of the role.

Over the past two weeks in the Harvey Norman Under 19s competition, Scott has shown a strong energy and willingness to keep on bettering himself.

Scott is tipped for big things in the future as he continues to go from strength to strength.

He also recently refereed in the Rachel McCrow and Matthew Arnold Memorial Day at Redcliffe in late February.

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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