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Coaches' call: Hostplus Cup Round 3 preview

It's a weekend for passion - for fierce showdowns, blockbuster matches, intense clashes, mate versus mate headliners.

XXXX Rivalry Round has arrived.

Some of the best conflicts will play out on the field this weekend as Townsville Blackhawks host Northern Pride in the battle of north Queensland, Burleigh Bears head to Tweed for the meeting of the two Gold Coast clubs, and Wynnum Manly take on Redcliffe in a nod to a long history between the two sides.

Ahead of XXXX Rivalry Round - the third week of the season - the coaches of the competition have shared their thoughts on what to expect this weekend.

Hostplus Cup Round 3 - XXXX Rivalry Round

PNG Hunters v Sunshine Coast Falcons

PNG Hunters coach Paul Aiton: "It seems after coming out of the trials well and after our Round 1 victory, we were complacent last week against the Capras. But it turned out to be a good reality check for us. Off the back of that loss, our biggest focus this week has been discipline. We're going to tackle that first before anything else. We have the Falcons coming up here this weekend and they are a tough side and have been for quite some time. I'm expecting them to come out firing."

Sunshine Coast Falcons coach Brad Henderson: "Last week I was alarmed by our lack of intensity and the little urgency we had against the Cutters. We just lacked attitude and Mackay had it in spades. There was effort from us but not attitude, not that desire to really scrap for a win. When you see that, you have to challenge individuals and their personalities and that's what I've tried to do, is put it on them. Attitude is how you win games and it's certainly how you win games in Papua New Guinea where you feel it's a nation against you. It's an us against them situation and it's come at a good time for us because we need to pull together. I know the Weipa trip we had last year (for Activate! Queensland Country Week) was really good and the night before the game we did bonding activities so I'm hoping a trip on the road is good for us to help them gel and really come together."


Townsville Blackhawks v Northern Pride

Townsville Blackhawks coach Terry Campese: "With every game you're trying to learn and improve and that's what we're getting out of last week's loss. It was a tough clash and Burleigh don't give you too many opportunities and they completed at 87 per cent and were quite clinical. The first 30 minutes were decent and it was 10-4 at half-time, so it was a lot closer than what it was reflected in the end. But now we turn our attention to the Pride. It's hard to do too much video on them. (Tom) Chester is back in so they have good attacking weapons but have lost a couple players to the Cowboys. They'll be a little bit different but they're a similar style to Burleigh. They're clinical and have some strike throughout their 17. It's one of the match ups of the weekend when it comes to rivalries. I'm not from up here but it's something you always hear about. I've had mates play up here before and these are the ones they always talk about. We're just a couple hours away from each other and it's always a big match from both sides. It's another 20 per cent on top of your normal weekly match. Pride are top of the table so it's a big game and one we need to be at our best for."

Northern Pride coach Eric Smith: "We may be two from two but we definitely had a bigger fight on our hands in Round 2. Going into halftime at 14-12 in front and then with the scoreline not changing until 20 minutes to go, it was a 60 minute grind before we were able to get on top of the Tigers or get into a position where the scoreline showed we were on top. That gives us real confidence, knowing we were able to go into a 60 minute arm wrestle against the reigning premiers and a quality roster with a heap of experience... to compete with that was very pleasing. It's crucial to have that confidence in the early parts of the season. If you don't win, some doubt can run through your mind of how effective pre-season has been. It's not to say the pre-season hasn't been good for those teams yet to find a win, but it definitely helps to bag two points early in the competition. You feel more confident knowing the work you've done is working for you. This weekend we turn out attention to the Blackhawks and you can tell this one has a little bit more feeling in it. It's the bragging rights. This one, it doesn't matter where these two teams sit on the ladder, it brings the best out in both squads and we're expecting that on Saturday."


Tweed Seagulls v Burleigh Bears

Tweed Seagulls coach David Penna: "There's still a lot of positives to take from it but at the end of the day, our Round 2 performance wasn't good enough. We had 13 sets of six we didn't complete and 16 errors. That was the disappointing part. Errors are an individual thing... when you're just handing the ball back over and over, you don't get your fair share of footy. It makes it hard as a team. For us, we need to take the emotional part out of it. This week, we're focused on making sure we play good footy and doing all the things we're training to do and working hard on those things. That's all we have to focus on. Burleigh are a great footy team. We're expecting them to throw plenty at us and be physical in defence and we'll have to work really, really hard."

Burleigh Bears coach Luke Burt: "We saw a bit of patience and much better discipline last week than we did in Round 1. I think we completed at 87 per cent. We built pressure at the start of the match and it was a tough, grinding 25 to 30 minutes where there were virtually no points scored. We paid dividends for that later in the game. Moving forward, we just want to keep seeing that patience and discipline and you need that against Tweed. They're a quality side and will be stacked with Titans players. It's super important we have that discipline and go set for set. Coming up against Tweed, it's always a big occasion. I've learned that the past four years. The rivalry is quite fierce and we've embraced that. We get to go down to their home ground and it's going to be a great occasion."


Norths Devils v Souths Logan Magpies

Norths Devils coach Dave Elliott: "I thought last week we defended well but there was poor ball control. We're not blaming the wet conditions - Redcliffe played in it too. But the focus moving forward has been on ourselves, getting ourselves right with an attack focus. We've still addressed continuing to have a strong defensive mindset as well. This week, Souths Logan will be a formidable opponent. They're similar to us - one win, one loss. We're expecting a tough contest at home. The guys are really looking forward to playing here, most of them for the first time. We're excited to play at home in front of our fans but we'll need to be good to make sure we come away with the win."

Souths Logan Magpies coach Karmichael Hunt: "Our focus has been on our defensive structures for the first few weeks. In week one, we didn't execute as well as we did against Tweed. The shift against Tweed was fantastic, although imperfect. We have to take that forward into Norths. It's always tough travelling to Bishop Park. The first two games for Norths have been on the road so they'll be looking forward to getting home. We'll have to be on our game, with the right attitude, effort and intent."


Mackay Cutters v Central Queensland Capras

Mackay Cutters coach Michael Comerford: "I was really impressed by our ball control against the Falcons. We completed up around 80 per cent and had 57 per cent of the ball. For a large chunk of the game, the boys were very disciplined and played very smart. We were fortunate enough that we were able to take our opportunities when they came. We were good on the defensive side, we were desperate. It was definitely a closer game than what the scoreboard would suggest and there were a couple of last-ditch try-saving efforts. Heading into Round 3, we're looking at this week and last week as an important two game block heading into the Easter break. Any two points are crucial, especially while everyone is fit and healthy and excited to play. For this weekend, we're obviously taking a bit of confidence out of that win. But I'm expecting a completely different Capras side from what we saw in the trials. They've had two strong wins and will be high on confidence."

Central Queensland Capras coach Lionel Harbin: "There was a lot to like from Round 2. It's been our best performance of the year so far, including our trials. All 17 players contributed in a way so it was a really good team performance. Our trial form wasn't really good so just to see us performing like we did on the weekend, it's really good signs. It's only Round 2 so there's still a lot of improvement left in this group as well. The Cutters have only had one game so far but it was a really good game from them. To win down there on the Sunshine Coast and win convincingly, you have to be doing something right to do that. They've been building for the last couple of years and they have a really good squad together."


Brisbane Tigers v Ipswich Jets

Brisbane Tigers coach Matt Church: "Last week, we were reduced to 15 players not long after halftime and we didn't play very smart. We had 17 errors in the game and they were back to back ones and Pride were good enough to capitalise on it. We saw glimpses of a Tigers-like performance and we showed a lot more intent. But at the moment, it's just our execution. If we back up our intent with our execution, we'll give ourselves a chance. The Jets were good last week against the Clydesdales. It was their first win in a long time and I know it was a long road for Crossy. He'll want them to go back-to-back and we'll have to be at our best. We had a fair bit of dominance last year in Rivalry Round so hopefully we can continue that this weekend."

Ipswich Jets coach Ben Cross: "To get that win last week, it's really good for the club. They've been working really hard in the background for the last year and a half, working on our affiliate models and finding solutions for the club. On the field last week, we just did what we should have done with our game plan and we executed it fairly. We showed a lot of desire in defence. We gave away a thousand penalties on the try line but found a way to hold them out. Hopefully the guys can walk a little bit taller. There's only a handful that were here last year but those guys put in every week and hurt the whole season so it's good to see some success for them. This week from the Tigers, we know we can expect strong output and a lot of experience. They have Ryley Jacks, Chris McQueen, Leivaha Pulu... Treigh Stewart has been playing really well at fullback and Tristan Hope is back. As premiers, you don't want to be starting the campaign the following year 0-3. They'll have internal pressure on them, which is a good thing. But they'll want to make a real statement that they're still heavyweights, as they should be."


Wynnum Manly Seagulls v Redcliffe Dolphins

Wynnum Manly Seagulls coach Mat Head: Comments to come.

Redcliffe Dolphins coach Ben Te'o: "It was strange conditions for our Round 2 match last Sunday. It was one of the hottest warm ups we've ever had and the sun was beaming down and then by the time the boys ran out, it was pouring down rain. It caught both teams off guard and no one could hold the ball for the first 20. But then when we got into the game, our guys were quite brave. We lost a few guys to injury but we handled that. We did lots of different things over the off season - I put them through a lot because we want to play a certain brand of football and we have expectations in that. The last two weeks, we've stood up to the challenges. But the biggest one could be this weekend coming. We haven't won at Wynnum since 2018. It's a long time. If you look at their side, they've recruited a lot. They've got some really, really good signings and a lot of experience - guys that have played a lot of football at this level and in and around NRL systems. They look like a strong side."

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Bye: Western Clydesdales

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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.

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