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Coaches' call: Hostplus Cup Round 10 preview

Only 10 teams will take to the paddock this weekend, in a shortened round of Hostplus Cup action.

With five teams on the bye and NRL Magic Round in Brisbane, there will be fewer Cup games, but certainly still a high level of entertainment with some blockbuster clashes ahead.

The Norths Devils will looks to back up last week's massive win over the Brisbane Tigers when they play host to the Townsville Blackhawks on Saturday while the Tigers themselves are searching for redemption against the Souths Logan Magpies in the Round 10 feature match.

Ahead of Round 10, the coaches of the competition share their thoughts.

Hostplus Cup Round 10

PNG Hunters v Ipswich Jets

PNG Hunters coach Paul Aiton: Comments to come.

Ipswich Jets coach Ben Cross: We shot ourselves in the foot on the weekend against Wynnum Manly. We just made it hard for ourselves. Two drops over the try line in the first half hurt us. That would have been nice to turn it into points. In the second half, it was more of the same - individual errors and couldn't get back on track. This week, the focus has been getting 17 fit people on the flight - we've had guys that are injured, some staying back for babies being born, the Titans with lots of changes - so it's all hands on deck this week over in Papua New Guinea. We're expecting a strong, physical game from the Hunters. They have a 50/50 win-loss. They're playing a fairly well-structured type of footy but still playing adlib as well. But there's a few areas that we've identified that we feel we can take advantage of.


Norths Devils v Townsville Blackhawks

Norths Devils coach Dave Elliott: The most enjoyable bit about our win over the Tigers was that we stuck to our process, particularly in the first half. We still completed but we certainly played some footy without pushing anything. Our ends to sets were really positive and we were able to maintain that, particularly in that first 40 minute stanza. The improvement moving forward is to make sure we build each half that way. We became a bit ill-disciplined and loose to start the second half and that invited the Tigers into the contest. Overall, it was our first back-to-back win and it's important for the confidence of the team moving forward and establishing those really positive habits that help you win. Your habits under fatigue and pressure is where it is going to stand up. Regardless of the scoreline, you need to be on your game every single week. This week against the Blackhawks, I'm expecting a really tough, determined team to turn up. They had a good win against Redcliffe at home. The PNG game was a bit of an anomaly and then beating Tweed down there is no easy feat. They'll want to get their own back-to-back win this week. They have lots of NRL experience - Jayden Hodges is back, Bailey Biondi-Odo is playing his second game, and Matt Wright is going really well in the halves and brings a lot of experience as well. Their fullback Lennix Tovo is really creative and dynamic at the back so we'll have to be right on our game and start well and put more of a complete performance together. 

Townsville Blackhawks coach Terry Campese: It always good to get the two points. I don't know about these close scorelines. They're def keeping us on the edge of our seat. It was a tough day from travel so I was v happy for the boys to put it past them and go out . We try to learn from every game and the prep that went into that one was the big one. Its a tough comp and you have to prep the best you can. No matter where, when or waht the circumstances are, you need to be up ready for the challenge. It's a big weekend - Magic Round and they've scored quite a few points over the past few motnhs. They have great attacking weapons across the park and Burns is in career-best form. It's all off the back of our halves and it has to be the strongest of the eyar to date.


Mackay Cutters v Northern Pride

Mackay Cutters coach Michael Comerford: I thought it was a pretty good game of footy against Burleigh last week. We conceded two tries in the first seven minutes and again in the last five minutes. It was good back and forth footy and pretty tough conditions. Neither team moved the ball as much as they usually would. It was disappointing in the end for the scoreline to blow out a little with those last couple of tries. With five minutes to go, it was a six-point game. The Bears are a very good team and when you think you've got them on the ropes, they're able to fight back and turn momentum, so it was a couple of good lessons for us in that regard. We want to show this week that we can stay in the game for long periods, like we did last week for 70-odd mins. We know we can stay with a team like Burleigh and the challenge week-to-week is trying to find consistency around that. We've had high-scoring games, low-scoring games... it's just a bit more consistency with the type of game we want to be involved. Controlling our end of that is what we're looking to bring. This week against the Pride, when it all clicks, they're a very clinical team and have a lot of strike all over the paddock. They can move the ball from anywhere so we have to be on high alert across the whole field. It will be a pretty strong physical match up in the middle. Winning that contest through the middle will go a long way. I know the boys are excited for it.

Northern Pride coach Eric Smith: I thought our start was reasonable against the Hunters. Obviously within the first 10 minutes getting out to a 12-0 lead was definitely what we wanted to achieve over there but then it was just errors. We had over 20 errors so we weren't able to complete or put any pressure on. If you continue to give them ball, that extra defence takes energy out of you. To give them that much extra ball, you run out of gas. Definitely, I was pretty proud of the group for how they hung in and fought defensively and just kept turning them away. I just wish we didn't have to do as much defending as we did. Moving into this week, we want to hang onto that grit and fight defensively. We want to be able to replicate those efforts in our defensive line, we just don't want to have to do as much of it. But on the flipside, we need to get that number down in errors and build some pressure and complete. This game against the Cutters will have some extra feeling in it - they're both affiliates to the Cowboys and we have players who train alongside each other everyday. I'm sure they'll want bragging rights over each other. We do play similar styles because we're affiliated to the same club. They have a really strong forward pack and they started the season red-hot. Similar to PNG, we know we have to be really physical with this team. It's one game we're really excited about.


Brisbane Tigers v Souths Logan Magpies

Brisbane Tigers coach Matt Church: The first takeaway from last week's loss is that Norths were just outstanding and we put our worst 40 minutes together in the first half and couldn't stem the flow. We did have two or three guys do fitness in the warm-up, which was not ideal or planned and one of those - Jack Miers - played 60 minutes after rupturing his ACL, which was unknown at the time. But there's no excuse. We're not happy with that performance at all. The biggest lesson we took out of the weekend - and it's on me as a coach - is that we have to evolve our game. What worked last year isn't going to keep working for us. We have to play to the strengths of the group and we have a new squad so I need to evolve myself as well. Souths this week are in a similar situation with injuries and what not, and I'm sure they are not where they want to be after the season they had last year. Norths showed a blueprint on how to beat us so we have to minimise Souths Logan's ability to shift the football. They have really good players in the halves so we need to manage those guys.

Souths Logan Magpies coach Karmichael Hunt: It wasn't our best performance against the Clydesdales last week, especially when you compare it to the two previous wins but nevertheless, it's two points. Although we didn't play our best, the boys worked their way into a winning position. We want to continue to keep our standards high moving forward. There's a huge continued emphasis on the defensive side of the ball for us. It's an exciting opportunity this week against Brisbane for a lot of guys to step up - young Rixson Andrews will fill Tristan Sailor's spot and there's a couple of others we're weighing up for Benny Te Kura and Fletcher Baker. We know it takes a squad to win this comp and we're starting to see that come to fruition. It's unfortunate for the guys that are injured but fortunate for others to play some Cup football. The Tigers are a proud club, always hard to beat at home. I'm not reading too much into the result against Norths and no doubt they've had a good training week.

Broadcast:, Kayo Freebies and 9Now

Wynnum Manly Seagulls v Sunshine Coast Falcons

Wynnum Manly Seagulls coach Mat Head: The best thing for us last week against Ipswich was the ability to stay in the contest. We thought Ipswich came out very physical and prepared to play us. There were periods where we felt under the pump but we did a good effort to defend our try line. We turned the defence into attack and were very pleased with how we played. We're after our consistency so we want to build on what we did last week and we'll look to start as fast as we can over at Stradbroke. The Falcons are coming off the bye and are refreshed and ready to play. They play a good style of footy and they'll come looking to take it to us. We need to nullify their positives and make them work well for us.

Sunshine Coast Falcons coach Brad Henderson: It's always disappointing going into a bye week after a loss but there was plenty to take out of that one against Burleigh in Round 8. There was plenty to be proud of but opportunities that we missed. We have to be better at nailing those key moments. It's also been a strange couple of weeks off. We had a bad injury at training last week and lost Zac Miles to a dislocated shoulder. Not good for him and not good for us. We'll lick our wounds and keep moving forward. This week, I'm expecting power from Wynnum Manly - they're really big on their power game with their big outside backs. They keep it simple in their half. They really move you around. They're really dangerous. Ipswich played really against them last week yet got 40 put on them so it goes to show the quality team they are. Our focus is on defending their plays but really working hard on heavy line speed.


Byes: Burleigh Bears, Central Queensland Capras, Redcliffe Dolphins, Tweed Seagulls, Western Clydesdales

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