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BMD Premiership Round 6 preview: ANZAC Round

Round 6 will make or break the finals hopes of a number of BMD Premiership teams, as the competition gets down to the last two weeks of the regular season.

The penultimate weekend of footy could lock in the top four teams that will advance to this year’s finals series, with Souths Logan, Mackay, Burleigh and Wynnum Manly looking to stamp their authority on the Premiership.

The Magpies, Cutters and Bears are all guaranteed a finals appearance already, but the jostle continues for who can finish where within the top four and take out the minor premiership.

Wynnum Manly meanwhile need a win over Burleigh this weekend to secure their spot in the finals and shut out any chance of Norths – up against Mackay – or Brisbane Tigers – meeting Central Queensland Capras – pushing their way through.

Each match brings its own intriguing storyline and for Mackay, this week is about locking in their combinations and systems before they make their finals push.

In their maiden season – and having adopted the model of the 2022 premiers, the North Queensland Gold Stars – the Cutters have been impressive and currently sit in second place on the ladder with just one loss to their name.

Coach Marco Peters said he could not be happier with his team and where they stand at the moment. But he has promised there is more to come.

“We’re very happy with where we’re sitting at the moment but feel we haven’t hit our top gear yet,” Peters said.

“We’ve been slowly building. We’ve had a lot of challenges… we’ve gone through 30 players already. It’s been a bit of everything - availability, injury, opportunities for girls that are working hard.

“We’re working in three regions so we’re definitely trying to promote that as well. In the first few rounds, we wanted to give people opportunities. Now towards the back end of the season, we have a better understanding of our top 22, 23 players.

“The tyranny of distance has also been a definite hurdle this year. But we’re coming together nicely now at the pointy end of the season.”

The minor premiership is still a possibility for the Cutters over the next two weeks, with a top-of-the-table clash against Souths Logan on the cards for next week.

Souths Logan will look to strengthen their place at the top of the ladder when they meet Tweed this Saturday, with the Seagulls yet to find a win in 2023.

But Peters said the Cutters weren't focusing on any of that. Whether they finish first or fourth, they’re just doing what they can to be as well prepared as possible for a finals campaign.

“It’s the old cliché that we’ve just focused on our next game, but we really have,” he said.

“It’s all about Norths Devils at the moment and how we would like to play and what result we’d like to get. If we continue doing that, we’ll continue getting that reward come finals time.

“Norths are a very talented side. They have Jillaroos players and we’ll need to be on high alert. They haven’t had the results they’ve wanted to have but they’ll be desperate to finish well. It’s going to be a tough challenge.

“I understand there could be benefits for us to have a top two finish and those types of things but it’s about getting through this game and our last fixture.

“Wherever we sit then, that’s when we launch our finals campaign.”

Peters said he had been particularly impressed – but also not surprised – by the leadership of skipper Emma Manzelmann and star forward Shannon Mato this season. But he has also had a number of other standout players help lead the charge to this year’s finals.

Fullback China Polata and prop Makenzie Weale, in particular, have shone for the Cutters this season.

“China Polata relocated to Townsville without any promises,” Peters said of the former Brisbane Broncos back.

“She did it of her own accord and I think if you speak to her, she’s happier now than she ever has been in a football team and squad environment. It’s a real good story for her individually and us as a club.

“In a similar boat and the person who is probably leading the way for all our trophies at the moment is Makenzie Weale.

“She wanted something different and now she’s up in Townsville and has been absolutely killing it for us.”

The Cutters will host the Devils at 12.45pm on Saturday; Burleigh and Wynnum Manly meanwhile will clash in a huge showdown at UAA Park at 1pm on Saturday, with the Seagulls able to leapfrog the Bears on the table and move into third place with a win.

Elsewhere, Tweed will play host to Souths Logan while Central Queensland will take on the Brisbane Tigers in Emu Park, with both matches to be played on Saturday.

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