All is in readiness for what promises to be a spectacular Hostplus Cup finals series.
And if the coaches agree on one thing, it's that anyone in the top eight is a threat to claim the title.
Our qualifying finals will take place on Saturday as Souths Logan Magpies take on Brisbane Tigers, followed by minor premiers Burleigh Bears up against Central Queensland Capras.
Sunday will be the day for relief and heartbreak in equal portions, when we learn who will remain in the competition and who will go home.
Redcliffe Dolphins play Sunshine Coast Falcons, with the winner to play the loser of Bears v Capras away, while Wynnum Manly Seagulls will look to get back to form at home and end the coaching tenure of Northern Pride's Ty Williams.
Check out your Finals Week 1 'stats pack' with all of the numbers you need to know for this weekend's games, courtesy of Brad Tallon, as well as your coaches' thoughts on the matches ahead.
Every week one finals game will be available to watch live and free on Qplus.tv
Hostplus Cup Finals Week 1
Souths Logan Magpies (2) v Brisbane Tigers (3)
Head-to-head (overall): Tigers 34 Souths Logan 14 Drawn 2
Head-to-head (finals): Souths Logan 1 Tigers 0
Last meeting: Brisbane Tigers 26 def Souths Logan 24 in Round 20, 2023
Broadcast: Qplus.tv and Kayo Freebies
Match: Magpies v Tigers
Finals Week 1 -
Venue: Logan Metro Football Fields, Logan
- Souths Logan have lost two of their last three games
- The Tigers have won six of their last seven games
- Their last six meetings have yielded four Tigers wins and two draws, the biggest margin being eight points and all others by four or less
- Souths Logan are unbeaten in their last seven home starts
- The Tigers have won their last six away games
- Tigers' Tom Rafter will bring up his 50th Cup game, having also previously played at Sunshine Coast Falcons
- Logan Bayliss-Brow will bring up his 50th game for Souths Logan, having also previously played at Mackay Cutters
A word from the coaches
Souths Logan Magpies coach Karmichael Hunt: "We've steadily improved as the season's gone by and played some pretty handy teams over the last three weeks heading into the finals. Although obviously not getting all the results that we were after, I think we've got all the learnings that we need to head into week one of the finals against the Tigers. Our purpose with what we're doing and our understanding of what we're trying to do is as good as it's been all year, but we have probably dropped the ball a bit here and there when it comes to cheap turnovers and the biggest takeaway for me from last week against the Capras was we can't afford to turn the ball over, especially in good ball against good teams come finals time. A lot of the boys that probably haven't played finals, so it was a really good tune up and a good lesson heading into the real stuff this weekend. We're looking forward to running out in front of our home fans in Logan on Saturday afternoon against a really good opponent who we only faced a couple of weeks ago. Everyone's excited and looking forward to the opportunity to play finals."
Brisbane Tigers coach Matt Church: "Last week we always knew Wynnum was going to be tough and we were going to be up for a contest. They were playing for position and probably got the better of us in the first half. But we managed to get on top and stick to a game plan, which was completing high and giving the ball back at their own end. Souths Logan have been a benchmark all year, they fell short last week in results, but they're a team that plays high percentage football, so we need to be able to build pressure on them and get repeat sets for us to score some points. I think we're moving in the right direction. We had a fairly clunky start to the year so we we're always going to be improving at the back end. I think we've seen that with our results, but there's more to us. I think we've got another level or two in our team and I think our team knows that. We know that we can mix it with the top teams."
Burleigh Bears (1) v Central Queensland Capras (4)
Head-to-head (overall): Burleigh 40 Central Queensland 10
Head-to-head (finals): Burleigh 1 Central Queensland 0
Last meeting: Burleigh 16 def Central Queensland 12 in Round 8, 2023
- Burleigh has been unbeaten in their past four games
- The Bears have won their past nine games against Central Queensland
- The Capras have won four of their last five games
- Central Queensland has five losses and a draw in their last seven away games
- Burleigh has won four minor premierships, converting one to a grand final win
- Hayden Schwass will play his 150th game for Burleigh, including two NRL State Championship matches
Match: Bears v Capras
Finals Week 1 -
Venue: UAA Park, Gold Coast
A word from the coaches
Burleigh Bears coach Luke Burt: "I thought it was a really good performance leaving the finals. It's a tough road trip up to Townsville and I think they had 13 contracted Cowboys players that rolled out for them. I thought our first half was excellent and in our second half, we just need to tidy up a few little attention-to-detail things, but we were all very happy with the way they played. I think we need to defend really well (against the Capras). They've got really big bodies, have really big carries and are the leading offloaders in the competition. They're very good at getting second-phase football and it's really important that we limit their offloads. They're the second-best defensive side in the competition, so they don't let in too many points. We've got to make sure they don't score too many. They've been brewing, they don't knock off Souths Logan in the last round for no reason. We're under no illusion how good the Capras are and what sort of team they are. They're a real gritty team and a very, very tough team and we know that it's going to take 80 minutes to beat them, if we can."
Central Queensland Capras coach Lionel Harbin: I just thought we scrambled and fought really hard in that game last week (against Souths Logan). Obviously there was a lot at stake. We know it's going to be a tough challenge against Burleigh. They're a great side being minor premiers for the last two years, so it's a big ask and all we can do is prepare well and go down there and do our best. There is a lot of confidence. We fought really hard on that performance last week but there's still a few things that we need to get better at. I thought our end to the set was pretty good but we weren't really able to build a lot of pressure on the weekend, so that's something definitely we're going to have to improve on. I think anyone can beat anyone on their given day."
Redcliffe Dolphins (5) v Sunshine Coast Falcons (8)
Head-to-head (overall): Redcliffe 20 Sunshine Coast 11
Head-to-head (finals): Redcliffe 3 Sunshine Coast 1
Last meeting: Redcliffe 26 def Sunshine Coast 16 in Round 11, 2023
- The Dolphins have won the last three games between these two sides
- Sunshine Coast has won four of their past five matches
- Redcliffe has won six of their past eight home matches, with one drawn
- The Falcons have won four of their last six away games, with one drawn
- Luke Polselli will play his 50th Cup game, having also previously played at Mackay Cutters
Match: Dolphins v Falcons
Finals Week 1 -
Venue: Kayo Stadium, Redcliffe
A word from the coaches
Redcliffe Dolphins coach Ben Te'o: Our form's been pretty good, I think, considering, we've had a lot of changes in and around our team. No matter what the changes are that we've had, we've really put in a solid effort, so the effort's there and the boys are happy and they're ready for the finals. They're just ready to start working hard again and prepare well. We'll train during the week, prepare, get our bodies right and our minds right. That's all we can do. We've got a couple of things that we need to fix up and we've identified them during the week, so defence is going to be a real thing we want to improve."
Sunshine Coast Falcons coach Brad Henderson: I think in terms of with the football, we controlled our sets really well (against Tweed). It's something we haven't done particularly well for long periods of time this year, but the last month has been a real good turn for us in that regard and we're making the opposition do their share of tackling, which makes life a lot easier for us, that's for sure. I wasn't overly happy with our tackle. I felt like Tweed played the ball way too fast and Redcliff will no doubt look to do the same. All in all, I think our last three to four performances have been really solid and I feel like we're certainly on the up. What we've done in the past means nothing this weekend, so we've just got to go out and perform, and we know are a really powerful team. They'll have some players coming back to them now and they're getting a few back from injury, so they will be really tough to beat, but it's a really good challenge and if you want to win a grand final, you've got to beat everyone. Every week is another challenge and we certainly need the boys to lift for this. We don't want the year to end just yet."
Wynnum Manly Seagulls (6) v Northern Pride (7)
Head-to-head (overall): Wynnum Manly 15 Northern Pride 14
Head-to-head (finals): Pride 1 Wynnum Manly 0
Last meeting: Wynnum Manly 30 def Northern Pride 14 in Round 17, 2023
- Josh Rogers finished 2023 as the top points scorer for second year in a row, also setting a Wynnum Manly season points scoring record of 234
- Rogers requires two points to bring up 50 points in Cup finals matches. He will be the 13th player to achieve this
- Rogers also requires four points to bring up 700 in Cup, and five goals to bring up 100 for the season
- Pride's average points scored of 18.2ppg this season is the lowest ever for a team making the Cup finals
- Wynnum Manly have lost four of their last five games, and their last two at home
- The Pride are unbeaten in their past four games
- Northern Pride have five wins and a draw in their last seven away games
- Seagulls' Will Samuel will play his 50th Cup game, having also previously played for Souths Logan and Tigers
- Chris Ostwald will play his 50th game for the Pride
Match: WM Seagulls v Pride
Finals Week 1 -
Venue: BMD Kougari Oval, Brisbane
A word from the coaches
Wynnum Manly coach Mat Head: We were happy with how we started the contest against the Tigers. Probably the big takeaway for us is at this time of year, it's all about the big moments in games and to Tigers' credit, they won all those big moments and we came off second best unfortunately. We thought we were probably better in the contest than the scoreboard showed, so there was a lot to like about the performance and a lot to work on. (Pride) are a gritty team and we've had two contests throughout this season and that's how they play. They keep themselves in the contest and they don't beat themselves. We know their form has been very good of late and they're going to be coming for us and we're excited about that challenge and we know what to expect from them. We've just got to make sure that we prepare ourselves the best we can and start the game as fast as we know we can, as we have this year and put ourselves in the best opportunity to get the bounce of the ball and win the footy game."
Northern Pride coach Ty Williams: Last week, getting that important win against Redcliffe, I thought we executed our scout sheet really well. There were a few little areas that we sort of picked up on where we could maybe expose them a little bit and I thought we did a really good job with that. I think defensively is definitely a focus for us. I thought attack wise on the weekend we scored some really good tries, in allowing ourselves to play how we want to play and I thought we were sound at that on the weekend and I think that's probably been the same for the last four weeks. We've probably averaged over 20-odd points and we're well below that as a season average. In the last month, we've sort of picked that up and defensively I think we're holding our own in regards to trust in each other and processes that we're looking at. This week is no different mate. They're going to be big, physical and well led around the park. We're under no illusions that we have to be very good this weekend to get the W but we're pretty confident about it."