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Coaches' call: Hostplus Cup Round 14 preview

Round 14 of the Hostplus Cup will kick off with the grand final rematch between the Burleigh Bears and Brisbane Tigers, with the two meeting for the first time since last year's premiership decider.

It's two very different teams from last year, with the Bears line-up boasting two of the Tigers' players from that September clash in Charlie Murray and Cole Geyer.

The reigning premiers meanwhile have had a lot of turnover in their roster and a recent tough run with injury, with just four players from last year's grand final donning the orange and black this week.

Elsewhere in Round 14, Souths Logan and Townsville return from byes this week to go head-to-head in the Sunday broadcast match while competition leaders Norths Devils return from back-to-back byes to host the Tweed Seagulls.

Ahead of Round 14, the coaches of the competition share their thoughts on the weekend.

Hostplus Cup Round 14

Burleigh Bears v Brisbane Tigers

Burleigh Bears coach Luke Burt: We knew it was going to be a tough match last week against the Pride. I said they were the form team of the competition. In the first half we only made one or two errors but in the second half, you can't afford to complete at 42 per cent against a team like the Pride. The focus since last week has been on individual ownership and people playing their roles. We went away from that in the second half against the Pride. I'm sure the Tigers will be up for it this week. We haven't touched on it being the grand final rematch. It's been a while since the grand final and it's quite different teams. We'll treat it like any other match and go out to get the job done and improve on last week's performance.

Brisbane Tigers coach Matt Church: Losing a guy to the sin bin in the fourth minute didn't help us last week. In the 10 minutes that followed, the Wynnum Manly Seagulls scored three tries but then for the next 65, we kept them scoreless. Defensively, I thought it was one of our best games in terms of intent. Nine out of the 10 guys that played for us last week had less than 20 games of Hostplus Cup experience. Teams like Wynnum Manly and Burleigh, they're very high on experience so we go from one big game into another. In terms of a grand final rematch this week with the Bears, they almost have more of our players from that grand final than we do. But in all seriousness, if it was earlier in the year, we would have looked at it as a grand final rematch but now it feels a bit different. We're chasing a performance, obviously. We need to get a result to help our cause for the back end of this year. We're not focused on last year but on putting in a good performance this week.


Mackay Cutters v Ipswich Jets

Mackay Cutters coach Michael Comerford: We just didn't aim up physically in the first 10 or 15 minutes against the Redcliffe Dolphins last week. We gave Redcliffe too much easy ball and field position. There were a couple of injuries and it impacted the way we were able to play. But Redcliffe showed they'll be a force for the remainder of the year. It was a real lesson for us in a few areas of the game. A challenge for us moving forward is we need to string together some consistent performances. We had that win against PNG in Round 11, then went into the bye, and then came back against Redcliffe and weren't able to put it together for the 80 minutes, so we need consistency. Coming up against Ipswich, I know Tye (Ingebrigtsen) pretty well, we've been playing and coaching in and around each other for a long time. I know his teams generally have plenty of belief and back themselves and this weekend will be no different. In their game against the Capras, they hung in for longer than they have previously, which comes from that belief that they're there to win. We're expecting a team that backs themselves and has a lot of strike. We have to be on high alert from sideline to sideline.

Ipswich Jets coach Tye Ingebrigtsen: The bye week was really good for us. That time we've had over the last two weeks leading into this game has been helpful to me implementing the things I want to implement. Everything I wanted to add in, the boys are getting a full understanding of it now. I'm confident the buy-in is there and feel a lot more confident in the way I want to do things. Instilling confidence and belief is massive and it's about creating an environment they feel they belong in and that's the Hostplus Cup. These players belong in this competition. Now we have to play football and do it together and that's been a really big focus since I came in. I feel like we're getting there and building momentum at training. Mackay are obviously coming off a loss. They'll want to make up for that. They're pushing for a top eight spot and playing at home so I'm expecting them to play their best footy. They're hungry for a win and will want to get into the top eight. Hopefully we can go up there and take away a win.


Norths Devils v Tweed Seagulls

Norths Devils coach Dave Elliott: It's probably been one of the harder periods of the year to manage, having a double bye. We were lucky enough to be invited to the Origin opposed session on the Gold Coast in the first week. It was a great experience for all the players and was good for us to see how that calibre of players operates and the way they train. We gave the guys time off after that and we had a pretty tough middle week and we've been preparing for our match against Tweed since. Momentum is something we've certainly something spoken about, particularly this week. Sometimes you can be five per cent off after one bye, so there's been plenty of conversation around coming back and not being at your best or where you left off. We've made that a real point for us this week and we're making sure we don't take for granted that our footy will pick up where we left it off in our last game against the Jets. We're expecting a really expansive game from Tweed this week. They have really good players like Lindon McGrady, young Vaka Sikahele - he's a real threat in and around No.9 - and former Devil Braden McGrady. We know how dangerous he is. They have a really hard-working forward pack. Iszac Fa'asuamaleaui is a handful and we're expecting Jacob Alick to drop back into that team as well. They're a team sitting on the edge of the eight so they'll be desperate to stay in it. 

Tweed Seagulls coach Dave Penna: Last week was a great game of footy against the Capras. It was only ever going to be that but unfortunately we weren't the winners. We lost hooker Oskar Bryant in the first four minutes and we ran out of steam in the end. No excuses though. We let it slip at the back end of the game, which was unfortunate. Oskar has some ligament damage in his ankle but we're hoping it's not too bad. Vaka meanwhile brings a lot of energy and he's tough, a great character to have around the team and a great player to have. We head straight into another tough game this week. Norths have some quality players, a big forward pack and speed out wide. I'm expecting a really tough, fast game.


Souths Logan Magpies v Townsville Blackhawks

Souths Logan Magpies coach Karmichael Hunt: It was really good to have a bye last week. It was good to get the week off to recover, especially after a physical trip to PNG. The boys ticked over the halfway mark of the season and it's the perfect time to revitalise and regroup and focus our attention on the second half of the season. We got quite a bit of confidence out of that win over PNG in Round 12. We had a terrible travel day heading up there and plenty of opportunity and time in that 24 to 48 hours for the boys to find an excuse and look for an easy way out but they didn't. They took on a physical rugby league team and took it to them. This week, it's nice to be back home. We've only played three home games so far so we have the next three weeks at home, which is lovely to be in front of our fans and our spiritual home at Davies Park. The Blackhawks are a really tough opposition. Terry (Campese) is doing a great job and I've been trawling through vision this week. They're just a classy team.

Townsville Blackhawks coach Terry Campese: The bye last week came at a really good time for us. We were the last team to have the bye and we'd had quite a big block of football. We had some busted troops so it was good to get the week off. We gave them some extra days to get away from football altogether. It's important to free yourself. Coming back, they've trained really well this week. You're always worried how they'll come back but the way they've responded and ripped in is very pleasing. Souths Logan had a bye as well and will be in the same position. Their last performance against PNG was really high quality. They had a really good victory and we expect them to be at their best back at home. They'll be playing with a lot of confidence. A few players haven't been named from the Broncos squad that we expect to see but outside of that, we'll be focused on ourselves.


Wynnum Manly Seagulls v Central Queensland Capras

Wynnum Manly Seagulls coach Mat Head: Heading into Round 13 last week, our big improvement area from the week before was around our start. We got away to an 18-0 lead so we certainly ticked that box but then the game turned into back-and-forth type of game. There were a few sin bins and a good team like the Tigers took their opportunities. But in the last 10 minutes we held on and kept turning them away. We started really well and finished really well. However, sometimes when you put a focus on one area, it slips away in another area. We've tried to fix our starts, which we have, but now we need consistency and need our bench coming in and firing like our starting 13. Capras look like a tough outfit, they don't hurt themselves or beat themselves. We know they'll stay in the contest for the full time this Sunday. It will be good quality football but like every week you have to worry about yourself before the opposition. It's about playing for the full 80 minutes and we know Capras will take us all the way.

Central Queensland Capras coach Lionel Harbin: Comments to come.


Western Clydesdales v Northern Pride

Western Clydesdales coach Jason Alchin: We were competitive against PNG last week. That's what we've been striving for. I couldn't be happier with that and we'll keep working for the win and working hard to become better and improve. We know the players the Pride have this week and we have to keep improving. We made some silly errors at the wrong times against the Hunters and it went against us. We didn't take the right options when it was on. We've gone over that and looked at that and we have to be better at that, especially this week. That comes with time and experience and we'll be right.

Northern Pride coach Eric Smith: Coming off a week off where we gave the players a mid-season break, coming up against the Bears last week was just the opposition we needed to kick off the back half of the season for us. It was a tight contest right through, two quality teams that have been able to get in the grind for long periods, both teams giving up little opportunity. It was pretty even Stevens until that last 15 minutes where we pushed out to a lead. We were very happy to win but it was in the balance for 65 minutes or more there. It was the kind of game you'd expect. We've been slowly building our confidence throughout the year with each good performance we have but to play against the team that I personally think is the best and most experienced roster in the competition, it just adds more belief into this group. We know we can challenge and compete with the better teams in the comp. Heading down to Toowoomba this week, it's another obstacle as we haven't been great on the road this yer. It's something we're always working to get better at and to be more consistent. We played against Ipswich earlier in the year and the Clydesdales are in a similar situation and they're desperate to get their second win. When it was the Jets, they came out with nothing to lose and really had us under the pump. Clydesdales are a team not too dissimilar to that and desperate for their next win. They've been able to push teams for long times. They stay in the fight right until the end and teams have struggled to put them away. We're expecting that again. We didn't get on top of Burleigh until the last 10 to 15 minutes so I'm expecting a similar thing this weekend, especially at their home ground. 


Bye: Redcliffe Dolphins

*The Round 14 match between Sunshine Coast Falcons and PNG Hunters will be played on Sunday, July 21.

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