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Toowoomba livewires throw down gauntlet for Brisbane

A long history of inter-city battles comes to a head once again this weekend and Toowoomba's talents will make sure they don't die wondering.

And when they get their chance to show up their Brisbane rivals in the XXXX League Championship semi-final, you can be sure outside backs Matt Christensen and Chris Woodbridge will be in the thick of it.

But the former knows the Clydesdales will need to be right on their game at Clive Berghofer Stadium for the full 80, having experienced the Brisbane Rugby League and Hastings Deering Colts in the Wynnum Manly Seagulls system last year.

"I played in that Brisbane competition at the start of last year and the best players in each team there would string together a very good team," Christensen said.

"I played a couple of games with (Brisbane second rower) Ethan Malt and he is a very strong forward and he deserved being picked in the squad, and that's the kind of quality they have.

"I'm pretty sure they're all pretty much (Hostplus) Cup players that just haven't cracked Cup yet."

Toowoomba coach Colin Speed celebrates with players after the XXXX 47th Battalion carnival. Photo: Amanda Pearce/QRL
Toowoomba coach Colin Speed celebrates with players after the XXXX 47th Battalion carnival. Photo: Amanda Pearce/QRL

That means staying disciplined, especially at the start of games, which they struggled with but ultimately recovered from in 50-minute games at the XXXX 47th Battalion carnival, will be critical to limited opposition opportunities.

For Christensen, it is somewhat of a case of unfinished business having played in Toowoomba's XXXX 47th Battalion win in 2021 before he fell out of form and missed selection for that year's XXXX League Championship semi-final.

The Wattles Warriors centre, who at the time was being bandied about between a number of different backline positions, said he had grown personally since then and was ready to rip in in any capacity, from the tough stuff to taking advantage when attacking possibilities are there for the taking.

And chances are Chris Woodbridge will be not far away when those chances pop up.

The Dalby Diehards fullback, who has been named on the wing for Saturday's game despite playing in the No.1 in the XXXX 47th Battalion final, is one of the most electric big-play makers in the Toowoomba Rugby League and his instinctive play could give Brisbane nightmares.

Woodbridge said while he expected Brisbane to bring a big pack, he was confident Toowoomba's forwards could match it with them and perhaps produce a few offloads to allow the little men to make hay.

"I'm hoping to put on a show but at the same time just do what I need to do, what my team needs me to do," he said.

"I'm just going to do my best just to be around the ball and support and just play a bit of bit of backyard footy and just back myself."

It's only possible with a strong relationship with his teammates, something they developed over the offseason with a goal of another shot at the XXXX League Championship.

Toowoomba Clydesdales outside back Chris Woodbridge will be one to watch, Photo: Amanda Pearce/QRL
Toowoomba Clydesdales outside back Chris Woodbridge will be one to watch, Photo: Amanda Pearce/QRL

Hurting after being defeated at the XXXX 47th Battalion carnival in 2022, a two-day camp at Gatton involving potential squad members started creating the bond similar to that in 2021 when they went all the way to the XXXX League Championship final.

Woodbridge and half Dwayne Duncan played an instrumental role that year, and the pair combined brilliantly in Emerald to avenge last year's defeat when the speedster pounced on a Duncan chip kick to score in one of the highlights of the XXXX 47th Battalion carnival.

"It's just all just showing up for each other on Saturday and just doing the job, and you've got to do it for 80 minutes too," he said.

“It's going to be a lot faster compared to Emerald, because I think it was only 25-minute halves (then) and this is going to be a full 80-minute game, which will test us, but we'll get it done."

The XXXX League Championship semi-final between Toowoomba and Brisbane Red kicks off at Clive Berghofer Stadium at 3pm. Subscribe to to stream the game live.

Main image: Matthew Christensen takes a tough carry for Toowoomba during the 2023 XXXX 47th Battalion final against Rockhampton. Photo: Amanda Pearce/QRL

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