The penultimate week of Hastings Deering Colts is here and it's sudden death for all four teams; two will be going to the grand final.
Tweed Seagulls v Townsville Blackhawks
Match: Seagulls v Blackhawks
Finals Week 3 -
Venue: UAA Park, Gold Coast
What a finals game this is. Tweed the best team all season, Townsville the defending premiers for a spot in this year’s grand final.
Tweed is coming off the week off, sitting back watching the Blackhawks fight it out with the Falcons.
Seagulls to watch
Oskar Bryant is an attacking weapon; he started the momentum against Burleigh Bears and he will not let up. Bryant has played 13 Hostplus Cup games in 2023 and mixed it up with five Colts games, but he comes back to Colts with that Cup experience.
If the Blackhawks let him jump then he will and they will pay.
Jack Field is the Seagulls captain and heartbeat of the Seagulls; he has played 11 Colts games this year and Field is a voice of reason amongst the chaos of finals. He has the skills of a half and will attack and go through if the Blackhawks miss their assignment.
Seagulls coach Aaron Zimmerle is excited for finals.
“It’s the minor premiers v the premiers in a prelim - that’s as good as it gets,” Zimmerle said.
“Townsville are a great rugby league breeding ground and they are always strong
“They throw a lot at you and different shapes and angles and you need to be ready to go and defend that. We have had the week off and we are ready.”
Blackhawks to watch
The Blackhawks turned to their big guns to get a 44-30 win over Sunshine Coast Falcons in Finals Week 2. The Blackhawks were on from the start and never let the pressure up for the whole game.
Fifty-four per cent of the ball, 22 more runs than the Falcons and 52 less tackles - all roads led to eight tries and a solid win.
At the core of the win was forward leader Jamal Shibasaki and right winger Jesse Yallop.
Yallop is playing his 36th Colts game and is closing on 50 Colts tries. His strike rate is outstanding. He also played two Hostplus Cup games in 2023.
While Jamal Shibasaki has played nine Colts games in 2023 after the Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup season and scored the Blackhawks' first try against the Falcons.
Yallop finished with 162 run metres, two line breaks and three tries for the Blackhawks. While Jamal Shibasaki was in everything and showed real leadership through the middle.
Blackhawks coach Roy Baira is finals ready for whatever Tweed throw at them.
“They are a good team, had the week off and they will be ready to go,” Baira said.
“Their middle is their strength they all work hard and start fast. Wouldn’t be too many games they haven’t scored first this year and we need to start well.
“We have to start well and maintain that ruck speed throughout the game.”
Brisbane Tigers v Redcliffe Dolphins
Match: Tigers v Dolphins
Finals Week 3 -
Venue: Totally Workwear Stadium, Brisbane
This has traditional Brisbane finals football written all over it. Two historical and proud clubs fighting it out on a Sunday afternoon.
If the chips are hot then it doesn’t get any better than this.
Like the Tweed Seagulls the Tigers have been sitting back just watching, stalking their prey and now they’re ready to go to a grand final.
It will be a massive day at the Tigers with the Hostplus Cup side playing for a spot in the grand final. The Tigers will want the double.
Tigers to watch
You can’t beat a smart hooker in finals, they take pressure off your halves and add to your attack.
Jackson Chang came off the bench against the Blackhawks in Finals Week 1 and made three line breaks and scored a vital try just after half-time then scored again five minutes later to seal the deal.
His impact was huge. Chang has played 10 games for the Tigers Colts in 2023 and scored three tries.
Casey Morgan has been great for the Tigers in 2023 and again in Finals Week 1; he was terrific with 188 run metres. The big prop has been a mainstay of the Tigers in 2023 with 15 games.
The Dolphins have come around the long way and beaten Souths Logan Magpies and Bears to meet the Tigers in Finals Week 3.
Mark Gliddon knows the Tigers but also knows the Dolphins and what they will bring.
“Dolphins are a good side, it’s a prelim final, no such thing as not a good side,” Gliddon said.
“They have won two finals away from home already so coming here isn’t going to worry them and they will want to play in a grand final at home.
“I think the week off is great for us, we needed it but now it’s time to play again.”
Dolphins to watch
The Dolphins may have won by 13 against the Bears but they certainly didn’t do it easily. What the Dolpins did do well was take control from the start.
There were two sections of dominance that led the Dolphins to this point. A try in the first minute and three tries just before half-time.
The Dolphins have been flying under the radar a bit at the moment but it’s now preliminary final time so everything is on the radar and on show.
The Dolphins' start was ruthless, up 20-0, but then the Bears came back and it took a Brenton Baira field goal to seal the deal and make sure the Dolphins are here in week three.
James Walsh was outstanding against the Bears with 175 run metres and three line breaks. The second rower will be a key plank in the Dolphins house in the finals.
While fullback Brenton Baira backed up his 234 run metres in Finals Week 1 with a try just before half-time against the Bears and then topped it off with four goals.
Dolphins coach Scott Murray is trying to educate his young charges about what Sunday means.
“They’re young but I think they understand Tigers v Dolphins in a final on a nice day at Langlands Park is a good rugby league day,” Murray said.
“We have played two games away from home and this is a third and we just need to go there and be ready.
“Finals are all about being prepared and bringing your best game at the moment you need it.”