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Dolphins, Blackhawks romp to Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup grand final

A hot day in Ipswich has seen Redcliffe blow away the Wynnum Manly Seagulls and swim into the final like a pod of angry mean Dolphins.

Fans at North Ipswich Reserve got their money's worth with two games in one semi-final.

Wynnum Manly Seagulls fans were thinking about finals next week when half Coby Black dominated the first 20 minutes with deft passing and kicking.

When Black kicked 80 metres off his own line and Saxon Innes jumped on the ball for his half Black to then step over the line, it looked like the Seagulls had corrected the mistakes of a two-point loss last week to the Dolphins.

Then the second game started, and it was all Dolphins.

Dolphins’ half John Fineanganofo went berserk and from the 25-minute mark until the 58th minute Dolphins scored six tries to dominate and end the final.

Fineanganofo ended up with three tries which varied from dummy half work, to running freely up the middle.

No matter where he ran, he was having a finals day out.

The Dolphins rode it out until the end and a 56-18 win that was built on waiting for your chance.

As the heat rose, the big Dolphins didn’t wilt like expected they found new energy that the Wynnum Manly Seagulls couldn’t match.

Dolphins coach Scott Tronc wasn’t too concerned even after that first 20.

“We went away from what we do and a lot of one out running, but once we got our head together and then we were able to do our thing.

“That then allowed our guys like John Fineanganofo to do his thing.

“He’s just a pure footballer, you can put him anywhere and he can do some special things, he’s played hooker and lock and today scores three tries at five eighth.”

The Dolphins second half attacking masterclass inspired the Townsville Blackhawks first half with the Blackhawks steamrolling the Jets with big forwards streaming through the middle.

The Blackhawks won through to another Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup final, with next week being their 10th final appearance since 2009.

Townsville will be trying to right the wrongs of the last two finals losses in 2021 and 2022.

The game was all but over at half time with the Townsville Blackhawks ahead 20-6 and having one eye on the Redcliffe Dolphins next week.

The Blackhawks were outstanding with the full spectrum of skills on display.

They started with the long ball for Rayzarlin Pearson to score in the corner and then the short balls to space came out with Townsville going 100 metres and front rower Jamal Shibasaki running 50 of them.

Elijah-Shane Tapau strolled over and Loranzo Fono barged over.

The Blackhawks strength and speed through the middle meant the Jets had to tighten up and then the Blackhawks would find space on the outside where the defence had become stretched.

The Blackhawks targeted the Jets right hand side and kicked well to the corners to make sure the Jets were always jammed in and bringing it out.

Ipswich staged a great fighting finals comeback to score three tries in nine minutes to put some scare into the Blackhawks but the first half was haunting the Jets who weren’t able to peg the lead back.

Then it was the speed of Rayzarlin Pearson who started the points in the fifth minute and ended it in the 68th minute.

Blackhawks coach Zeb Kyle said he was ready for another grand final week.

“Ipswich came back at us and I think if that sin bin happens and we are maybe a man down then that changes the story a bit,” Kyle said.

“It was our first half that won it and then we just held on.

“Few things to work on this week, I thought our middles were strong, but our edge didn’t work as hard.

“Dolphins were great in the second half and we have to get ready now for them.”

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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