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Meninga: 'Two strong Queensland nurseries pitted against each other'

It's the 1981 grand final between the Souths Logan Magpies and Redcliffe Dolphins and the clock is ticking down.

One minute to go and the Magpies are behind the Dolphins 9-8. It's the last tackle of the game and it's looking like Arthur Beetson will get his Dolphins premiership.

Enter Chris Phelan, Mal Meninga and Mick Reardon. A somersaulting Reardon scores in the corner and the Magpies win 13-9 in a famous decider.

The Magpies had their first premiership since 1953 and Meninga had stood up on the big stage after losing in 1979 and 1980.

On Sunday the Townsville Blackhawks and Dolphins will be looking forward to their big day in the sun in the Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup grand final, but there are parallels to draw from that famous grand final in 1981.

“I’m very excited with two very consistent sides going head-to-head in the final,” Meninga said.

“Two strong Queensland nurseries pitted against each other.  

“The Blackhawks perennial finalist against the might of Redcliffe who have an excellent pathway system through to the Dolphins. Congratulations to both sides and may the best team on the day win.”

Redcliffe are looking for a premiership with a massive forward pack rolling them forward. Who will be their Arthur Beetson on Sunday?

Townsville have lost the past two finals just like Mal Meninga and his Magpies did in 1979 and 1980. Who can be the Blackhawks' Mal Meninga?

Redcliffe Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup coach Scott Tronc played for the Magpies in the 1985 grand final with Mal Meninga and knows the impact a player like Meninga can have.

The Dolphins were outstanding against the Wynnum Manly Seagulls.

In one of the great Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup performances, Redcliffe went from 18-12 at half-time to score seven second half tries.

Sixty per cent of the ball, 130 runs, 11 line breaks... it was attacking league at it’s best and more shark-like than dolphin.

At the heart of the Dolphins rampage was John Fineanganofo, who scored three tries and kicked seven goals.

Tronc is in awe of everything his young men produce.

“These young men are training six or seven times with a week with Meninga Cup and school, they are working so hard and doing so much,” Tronc said.

“They are doing such a good job and I am really proud of how they juggle the whole lot.

“I just ask they be present, that they give Sunday the respect it deserves... it’s a grand finale, be present.

“Townsville are a very good side and we know they are a consistent side who are very good at this age level.

“I don’t have expectations for the players I just have agreements, things we are going to do and keep.”

Standing waiting is Townsville, who did the damage early against the Ipswich Jets and then waited for the finish line.

Townville led 20-6 at half-time and did all the running; the Ipswich try just before half-time gave them confidence and then after half-time Ipswich were able to score four tries and put all the pressure back on Townsville.

Townsville had done the damage and were able to hang on but that won’t work against Redcliffe. The Blackhawks attack of 10 line breaks and seven tries told the story.

Townsville put pressure back on themselves by having to tackle their way through the second half and ended up doing 171 tackles compared to the Jets' 157.

Rayzarlin Pearson was effective in attack for the Blackhawks with 177 run metres and three line breaks and scored the first and last try.

Townsville coach Zeb Kyle is getting his side ready to take on Redcliffe.

“We have reviewed the Ipswich game and what we learnt was that we made some poor reads in defence,” Kyle said.

“That’s down to communication and our edges not connecting with each other.

“The positives we took out of it was our first half and that we didn’t concede a point through our middle.

“Jamal Shibasaki and Kaiden Lahrs have been excellent and we need that again on Saturday.

“Dolphins middle are outstanding and if we allow them to play that power game and through there then what happened to Wynnum will happen again.”

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