You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content
Hostplus Cup: Road to the finals

Twelve teams remain in the hunt for this year's Hostplus Cup finals series.

With just three weeks left in the 2023 competition, the fight for the top eight is heating up and there are plenty of contenders still mathematically in the race.

From the first-placed Souths Logan Magpies down to the 12th-placed PNG Hunters, here is how everyone's campaign for the finals series is shaping up.

Road to the finals

Souths Logan Magpies

Current ladder position: 1st
Points: 32 (+190)
Final three opponents: Brisbane Tigers (away), Wynnum Manly Seagulls (away), Central Queensland Capras (away)

Already a lock for this year's finals series, Souths Logan need to win two of their final three matches to secure the 2023 minor premiership. After finishing 2022 with the wooden spoon, their rise to the top of the competition under new coach Karmichael Hunt has been incredibly impressive and they are now chasing history. In statistics provided by Brad Tallon, no team has ever gone from wooden spoon to minor premiers in consecutive seasons. 

Burleigh Bears

Current ladder position: 2nd
Points: 29 (+120)
Final three opponents: Wynnum Manly Seagulls (away), Mackay Cutters (home), Townsville Blackhawks (away)

Despite two losses and one draw from their last four games, Burleigh are sitting in a strong position on the ladder. They are expected to play finals but will need to win their next three matches - including a tough Round 20 showdown with Wynnum Manly - to secure a top two spot and therefore two weeks of home finals. With Wynnum Manly sitting just one point behind them in third, it's expected to be a thrilling finish to 2023.

Wynnum Manly Seagulls

Current ladder position: 3rd
Points: 28 (+174)
Final three opponents: Burleigh Bears (home), Souths Logan Magpies (away), Brisbane Tigers (home) 

After a rollercoaster start to 2023, Wynnum Manly surged strongly up the ladder with seven straight wins through the middle of the season. They've only suffered one loss since and are building nicely into the finals. They will be targeting a top two finish - and currently have a top four finish in hand - but face a tough run into finals, with all three matches against fellow top five teams.

Redcliffe Dolphins

Current ladder position: 4th
Points: 27 (+121)
Final three opponents: PNG Hunters (away), Central Queensland Capras (home), Northern Pride (away)

Redcliffe currently round out the top four - which earns a guaranteed two weeks of finals - but the competition for those positions is just as heated as the battle to get into the eight. Mathematically, the Dolphins could go as high as top spot or fall out of finals contention completely, but neither option is likely and would require some very surprising results from a number of teams. So, their biggest goal over the final three weeks will be to continue building momentum and stave off challenges from those sitting just below them to maintain their place in the top four and maybe push for top two.

Brisbane Tigers

Current ladder position: 5th
Points: 27 (+118)
Final three opponents: Souths Logan Magpies (away), BYE, Wynnum Manly Seagulls (away)

The Tigers sit in fifth place behind Redcliffe but only due to a difference of three for-and-against points. They are right in the race for a top four finish and two weeks of finals action. While they have some tough contests ahead against Souths Logan and Wynnum Manly, they are also the only team in the top 12 that will have a bye in the final three weeks, meaning there is a guaranteed two points up their sleeve.  

Central Queensland Capras

Current ladder position: 6th
Points: 26 (+104)
Final three opponents: Townsville Blackhawks (home), Redcliffe Dolphins (away), Souths Logan Magpies (home)

The next three weeks will be very telling for Central Queensland. After an impressive start to 2023 with six straight wins, the Capras then had a mixed bag of results over the following nine weeks. Their past two games have shown promising signs with strong wins, but they came against Ipswich Jets and Western Clydesdales, who sit towards the bottom of the ladder. While it certainly would have given them confidence and momentum, they will be tested over the final three weeks. While top four is mathematically possible, a fifth or sixth place finish will see the Capras enjoy a home game in the first week of finals.

Tweed Seagulls

Current ladder position: 7th
Points: 24 (+109)
Final three opponents: Northern Pride (home), Ipswich Jets (home), Sunshine Coast Falcons (home)

Currently facing the possibility of playing a week one elimination final with no home ground advantage, Tweed will want three straight wins to end their season to move into fifth or sixth. And with all of their final matches to be played on home turf, Tweed do hold an upper hand. At the very least, they should be able to secure their place within the top eight, but they will want to avoid staying in seventh or dropping to eighth.

Northern Pride

Current ladder position: 8th
Points: 22 (-93)
Final three opponents: Tweed Seagulls (away), Western Clydesdales (home), Redcliffe Dolphins (home)

This is where the race for finals gets particularly interesting. Only three points separate Pride in eighth and PNG Hunters in 12th. That's five teams vying for one spot - unless Tweed fall down the ladder as well. Pride moved into eighth last week after a stunning draw with Burleigh, but having now lost star fullback Julian Christian to suspension, there's a tough road ahead. Like all the teams below them, the Pride certainly need three wins to keep their place in the top eight.

Townsville Blackhawks

Current ladder position: 9th
Points: 21 (+59)
Final three opponents: Central Queensland Capras (away), PNG Hunters (away), Burleigh Bears (home)

Townsville have switched into another gear over the past month, claiming three straight wins and a draw with Redcliffe. They are carrying a lot of momentum into their final three weeks and are every chance of forcing their way into the eight. But, like all teams, there is plenty of competition around them. Now under the guidance of former assistant coach, Christian Quabba, the Blackhawks hold their own fate in their hands.

Round 19: Top five super plays

Sunshine Coast Falcons

Current ladder position: 10th
Points: 21 (+56)
Final three opponents: Ipswich Jets (home), Norths Devils (away), Tweed Seagulls (away)

It is fair to say it is surprising to see the Melbourne Storm affiliate club sitting in 10th place. They have the ability to mix it with the top teams, but a rollercoaster season has them at threat of missing finals altogether. Coach Brad Henderson believes his team can make the eight - and the inclusion of Storm sensation Ryan Papenhuyzen could certainly help. But, again, it will require three straight wins for them to play finals and it will start with their last home game this Saturday.

Norths Devils

Current ladder position: 11th
Points: 20 (+41)
Final three opponents: Western Clydesdales (away), Sunshine Coast Falcons (home), PNG Hunters (home)

If anyone knows how to make a surprise run into the finals, it is reigning premiers. They also made a late push last season to take out their second consecutive trophy and the Devils are building strongly once again. Their last two clashes in particular will be difficult - especially a thrilling showdown with fellow top eight contenders, Sunshine Coast - but it will be an entertaining finish to season 2023.

Round 19 feature game highlights: Tigers v Hunters

PNG Hunters

Current ladder position: 12th
Points: 19 (-48)
Final three opponents: Redcliffe Dolphins (home), Townsville Blackhawks (home), Norths Devils (away)

The Hunters are a mathematical chance of making the top eight but it is a long shot. They really needed to earn the two points over the Brisbane Tigers last week but were unable to do so. Now they not only need three wins but are relying on other results from many teams. One advantage is they have two home games from their final rounds, but it will be a big ask for them to play finals this year. If they lose to Redcliffe this weekend, they could be completely out of the equation.

Finals roadmap

Week one

Game one (qualifying final): One v four
Game two (qualifying final): Two v three
Game three (elimination final): Five v eight
Game four (elimination final): Six v seven

Week two - elimination finals

Game five: Loser of game one v winner of game three
Game six: Loser of game two v winner of game four
Bye: Winners of game one and game two

Week three - preliminary finals

Game seven: Winner of game one v winner of game six
Game eight: Winner of game two v winner of game five

Week four 

Grand final: Winner of game seven v winner of game eight

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.

Platinum Partners

View All Partners