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Coaches' call: Hostplus Cup Round 6 preview

Round 6 of the Hostplus Cup will be the inaugural Licensed Clubs Round as a few teams aim to bounce back from some tough Round 5 results.

The Central Queensland Capras and Souths Logan Magpies are two teams who are hurting from their performances last week, which saw them go down to the Norths Devils and Sunshine Coast Falcons respectively.

The Capras will look to hit back in a big way when they take on the reigning premiers, Brisbane Tigers, in the Round 6 broadcast match on Sunday while the Magpies are headed to Burleigh for a tough clash with the Bears.

In other meetings this weekend, the first-placed Mackay Cutters will play host to the third-placed Wynnum Manly Seagulls while the Redcliffe Dolphins will head over to Port Moresby to meet PNG Hunters.

Ahead of Licensed Clubs Round, the coaches of the competition share their thoughts.

Hostplus Cup Round 6

Northern Pride v Norths Devils

Northern Pride coach Eric Smith: "I don’t think the 30-22 scoreline last week against Redcliffe shows how close that game actually was. They scored two tries in the final minutes to blow that out. It wasn’t the result we wanted but the first 40 minutes was probably the best first half of football we've put together this season. We were really controlled, it was our least amount of errors, and we had a 16-6 lead against a really good football team. We were really happy with that part of our game. We wanted to see a reaction following our loss to the Falcons so to see that in the start against the Dolphins was really good. There’s pleasing signs. We’re very disappointed we didn’t get the win and feel like it’s the one that got away but we're much more positive than from the week before. We're back at home this week against Norths and we get that advantage at home now. It’s been a month since we’ve been home. From the games I’ve seen, Norths are playing with a lot of energy. They have a really experienced and exciting spine with Gerome (Burns), Kierran (Moseley) and Julian (Christian) at the back. They’re pretty livewire players and they have a big forward pack that’s going well for them. As soon as they generate ruck speed, those spine players come to life. We’re going to have to be on our toes."

Norths Devils coach Dave Elliott: "There was nothing new we did last week against the Capras - we just focused on the things we hadn’t done particularly well in the previous week and we just built our game a bit better from the start to get that win. We completed, we kicked well and we chased well. That’s the biggest thing for us overall right now is building our game and backing the long game. We scored quite a few tries in the first half but it's just having that mentality of playing right until the end. We’re still a team that’s really chasing some consistency. We’ve had win, loss, win, loss, win so far. Teams that can find their rhythm and get back-to-back wins consistently will be in front across the first half of the competition before injuries and other challenges come up. So, we’re just chasing consistency. This week, we’re expecting a really physical team. I know some of those guys up there well and I know some of them have been in and around state level footy for a long time. Guys like Ash Little, Josh Allen... add in Tom Duffy and Jake Clifford, Bacho Salam, they have a lot of strike right across the park. They’ll be hurting from the last couple of losses and doing everything they can to get back in the winner’s circle. We know they’re supported by their community so we have to be at our best to come away with the win."

PNG Hunters v Redcliffe Dolphins

PNG Hunters coach Paul Aiton: "We’ve had three games, a bye, a game, and a bye to start the season so it's been an interesting time. I would have probably preferred a few games in a row but last week we took the time to rest the squad and we’ve had a few good sessions this week. When it comes to our season so far, I think we’ve got more in us. We definitely have more in us. I feel like we’ve worked on our tackle technique a lot and the boys have responded. We’ve started working on our errors and penalty counts. And the boys have responded there as well. That’s all you can really ask for. But I feel like we’ve got more to give and we’re getting there. We’re expecting a big game this Saturday. It’s been 10 years of teams coming here so players know what they’re getting when they get here now. It’s going to be tough game and they have great quality players. We’re expecting a big hit out up here and they’re tied first at the moment. We need to win."

Redcliffe Dolphins coach Ben Te’o: "It’s hard to say how we performed last week. Maybe we didn’t play to our best ability in the first half but I have to say the Northern Pride were pretty hard to stop. They’re a very, very good team. They came out and put it on us and really, it was hard to stop. We really needed halftime. Luckily we got in there and had the opportunity to regroup. I was impressed with our response. They came out and got back into the game plan and started matching it physically with the Pride. We just managed to get the results in the end. It seems we’re quite addicted to these close games at the moment. We love entertaining people, lets put it that way. Through it all, we’ve seen glimpses of our best. But I don't think we have played a good game yet, a full game. We’ve played some really good halves. We’re just a little bit inconsistent. We’re on the road for three games straight now and we’re really looking forward to getting away and spending time together. We have real small windows of opportunity to get together like this. The busses and planes and hotels is an opportunity for guys to hang out and get to know each other a bit more. That’s the positives. We want to play a really good game for the people of PNG."

Ipswich Jets v Tweed Seagulls

Ipswich Jets coach Ben Cross: "We were really frustrated with our performance on the weekend against Burleigh. To get a win there would have put us in the box seat to try to get back to at least a 50/50 win-loss record. We just shot ourselves in the foot. Another win is going to help our bottom line… but I’ve always said that this team, this year, we’re a second half of the season team, once we start to get a bit more comfortable. The results will come on the field. But you have to build that continuity. However, a win this weekend would be a massive boost for us, going into a bye as well. I know Tweed are probably a bit fresh coming off the back of a bye."

Tweed Seagulls coach Dave Penna: "We’re not exactly fresh legs after our bye week. We’re not sitting where we’d like to be in the competition at the moment and so we’ve been able to use this time to work a little bit harder on the things we’ve needed to do and a little bit harder at training. For us, it’s sort of gone back into a little more of a pre-season vibe around the place. We have a lot of hard work to do going forward. It’s going to be a great game of footy on Saturday. I’m really happy for Ben and the Jets. Last year was a tough 12 months for them and they’ve done a really, really good job at trying to rebuild their club and with their relationship with the Titans. They’re playing some really good football. They’ve just been beaten by some quality sides but they’ve been competing in every game and I’m expecting everything this weekend. We’re going to really need to play well. We’re trying as a club - the senior players and our younger guys, they all need to start to stand up now. They need to start to take some accountability on themselves. For us as a club, we’ve really looked at that in the last couple of weeks, right across the board."

Burleigh Bears v Souths Logan Magpies

Burleigh Bears coach Luke Burt: "It was a pretty gritty win... a tough one against Ipswich last week. They have a lot of NRL squad players from the Titans available for them and really good game managers. It took us right to the last little bit of the game to seal it. I didn't think there was too much for us to work on - Ipswich completed at around 89 per cent in the first half and hardly made any errors. There’s little things to work on but overall we need to build on that whole 80 minute performance and take that into Souths. We’re expecting a tough match this weekend. In the first half against Sunshine Coast, they were leading 12-6 so we expect them to come out hard and fast. They have big bodies and generally really good go forward. Defensively we need to be ready for them."

Souths Logan Magpies coach Karmichael Hunt: "It was obviously a disappointing game for us last week, especially in the second half, the way we fell away after a couple weeks off. The biggest takeaway for us is we have to get back to working tough for 80 minutes. In our first four games, we’ve been really patchy and only putting 40-50 minutes together. It’s not good enough to win any game. Our focus is on working hard for each other and making sure come Saturday, we’re ready to go out there and play for each other. When I watched the game again from the weekend, I can see some of our movements and actions from the first half, we were definitely labouring a little bit and maybe we were just hanging on and Sunshine Coast turned the heat up a little bit. This week as a coach, I’m reflecting on that three week break and how I probably didn’t manage it well enough, knowing now how the boys looked and the feedback I got from them. This week, the boys have definitely looked better throughout the week and hopefully we can build it into playing a full 80 minute. Burleigh this week, we just know they're typical Burleigh. They move you side to side, play good footy. They have Martin Taupau at the moment and a number of good quality middles. They’re a real classy team. We’re looking forward to travelling down there and taking the challenge on."

Mackay Cutters v Wynnum Manly Seagulls

Mackay Cutters coach Michael Comerford: "It was good to see the boys have some fun with their footy, particularly in that second half last week against the Clydesdales. They definitely had us nervous early on and we knew that we kind of invited them to be in that position, bringing the game down to 12 men. They capitalised and had the ball for that whole period. But it's pleasing to know we’ve had a couple of scenarios now that the boys are able to move on from that pretty quickly and get back on track after facing small patches of adversity. The game got a bit sloppy towards the end but it’s a bit expected when the scoreline gets into that territory. It’s a tough road trip from Mackay to Toowoomba so to walk away with two points was the goal and to do it with good footy is even better. We’re not concerned about where we’re sitting on the ladder at the moment. We have the top four teams in four consecutive weeks from now and that starts with Wynnum this week. They’re in a bit of form after going down in Round 1. They’ve turned that around pretty quickly. We know we’re against year in, year out quality oppositions and that’s going to be a real test for us. So we will reserve judgement on how we’re going until that period is over. Wynnum are a seasoned outfit, their forward pack has been together for a few years now. They play high percentage footy – about 84 per cent completion last week – so we have to prepare for a tough, physical hit out. If a team takes it to them, looking for a grind, they’ll match it. We’re fully aware of the challenge they’ll present to us. There’s some guys that are seasoned players who know how to win games, so we’re preparing for a big game."

Wynnum Manly Seagulls coach Mat Head: "We’ve had a bit of turnover in our playing group and having that stop-start start to our year, last week was our first game back-to-back. We got into a pretty good rhythm against Townsville. We just leaked too many points in a 10 minute period so it shows us where we need to go. There’s plenty of positives to take out of it. But there’s some learnings to take from it too and that’s really good. It's our ability to not take our foot off the throat and stay a bit ruthless... making sure we stay in the contest and don’t look too far ahead. We have to fix what’s right in front of us together. We get to put it into practise this week against Mackay and knowing we have the bye again the week after, we have no excuse. Mackay are a very different team to last year. They’re flying on the wave of some confidence and how they’re playing and winning some games. The games they’ve won they’ve been able to score some points but held the other teams to low scores. They have a real good defence about themselves and we know that’s coming up against us. We need to stay nice and patient with the footy and see how many opportunities we have and if they can defend a team like ours."

Sunshine Coast Falcons v Townsville Blackhawks

Sunshine Coast Falcons coach Brad Henderson: "In a sense, last week was really similar to our first half against the Tigers in Round 1. We completed at about 85 per cent, with only one or two errors for the entire half. As great as Souths Logan were, we had too much footy for them. We really clicked on the day – our spine particularly was impressive, with Cody Hunter and Luke Polselli working together well. With Cody, it was a bit of a breakout game for him and this would have done his confidence a world of good. It reinforces why we brought him to the club. Over the past few weeks, we've been talking about the same thing, going down the same path with a lot of conversations. We have the control, we make the decisions and it’s on us. We saw it in PNG - we were heading in a good direction and we saw it again against Pride the following week and then last week against Souths Logan. It’s good to see some genuine improvement and real ownership from the team to correct things. This week though, I'm not too sure what to expect from the Blackhawks. They’re a fair bit tidier than other teams. They’re not making as many errors and are pretty accustomed to the grind. I’m anticipating a really physical clash through the middle. They have good experience, key players across the field and James Tamou up front as well as Gehamat Shibasaki, Matthew Wright - some guys who have played a lot of football. We’ll have our hands full if we don’t maintain that discipline we've shown recently."

Townsville Blackhawks coach Terry Campese: "It was definitely a game of sections last week against Wynnum Manly. We started well in the first 20 minutes. In the middle 40 we clocked off and Wynnum definitely capitalised. We came home strong in the last 20 but we’re just inconsistent at the moment and that’s been the story of our season. We haven’t been able to put more than 40 minutes together. This week is a massive challenge. From watching the majority of games, Sunshine Coast is the form team of the competition. All their core players – one, six and seven – they’re controlling the game really well. They have a game plan to hang in there and take their opportunities so we have to be ready. We’ve been really good at times and then dropped off considerably at other times. I've said it's like a rollercoaster ride. At the top of the rollercoaster we’re really good but we have to find that middle ground when we do drop off. At the moment we're just hitting the bottom."

Brisbane Tigers v Central Queensland Capras

Brisbane Tigers coach Matt Church: "The byes can be a bit tricky depending on what time they come. They can be helpful or harmful. We were starting to build momentum with two wins before our bye last week so it was a bit disjointed. We had two performances where we kept our opponents to nil. It’s only been done twice in the Cup era, to keep an opponent to nil in two consecutive weeks. We used the bye week to reflect on that. I thought our first two performances this year were un-Tigerlike, given what we’ve done. We’ve reflected on the contrast of the first two games to the second two games. It was about recapping our DNA as a footy team. We spent the time celebrating the things that make us and letting the players know who we are as a football team. This week we're up against the Capras and they’ll be smarting from that performance last week. We had two tight tussles against them last year. We won by two points in the normal competition and just got away from them in that prelim final. They have had a strong DNA under Lionel and they’ll be looking to recapture that form they missed last week."

Mic'd up: Brisbane Tigers coach Matt Church

Central Queensland Capras coach Lionel Harbin: "We were just beaten in every component in the game last week. Norths just came out with a lot more energy and intent and it showed on the scoreboard. We just need an attitude switch. I have to take some accountability and responsibility with our preparation last week. I probably didn’t get that right. This week, it’s about going down to the Tigers with the right attitude. Last week’s performance is a motivation. It’s just not the standard we want to play at. We’ve been struggling to find a bit of consistency. That comes down to the way we prepare and the attitude we have when we turn up. The Tigers are a tough side. The last couple of games they’ve been able to keep teams to nil. They’re defending well and working hard for each other. They have strike right across the field. But for us, it’s about us, our attitude and how we turn up."

Bye: Western Clydesdales

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