LAST year?s Premiers Redcliffe secured second spot with an impressive 42-26 win over Easts in the ABC Television match at Dolphin Oval. Big front rower Adam Starr scored the Dolphins first try off a Shane Perry pass after only three minutes for a 6-0 lead. The Tigers although out of finals contention were enthusiastic and winger Steve Beattie crossed out wide after 20 minutes of the match to level the scores. Redcliffe?s try scoring machine Aaron Barba, moving to Penrith in 2004, then snatched a 90 metre intercept to break the deadlock and take his tally to 28 tries this season. Five eight Perry scored to extend the lead and then was again involved in the lead up for Daniel Green?s try for a 22-6 lead at half-time.
A depleted Toowoomba outfit put in a valiant effort before going down to Burleigh 30-6 in the ABC Television match at Pizzey Park. The Bears suffered their own injury woes losing big front rower Ali Brown after only two minutes with a broken arm. Five eight Ryan Gundry regathered his own kick in goal to score an early try and give Burleigh a 6-0 lead and this was increased soon after when second row Chris Nahi crossed for a strong try. Nearing the 30 minute mark in the match the Bears again put on back to back tries to virtually seal the Clydesdales fate. Nahi?s second row partner Stan Berryman scored first and then centre Adam Hutchinson strolled over to give Burleigh a handy 24-0 scoreline.
FOUR teams ? Burleigh, Redcliffe, Ipswich and Wynnum are on 29 points on top of the Queensland Cup ladder with two rounds remaining before the final five play off system begins.
A fortnight ago Ipswich were alone at the top.
Tweed Heads Seagulls are in fifth spot on 26 points three points clear of Toowoomba and it seems certain the Tweed will clinch a final berth because they play lowly Souths Logan at Piggabeen this Sunday.
A win at home would keep Tweed three points ahead of Toowoomba and out of reach even if the Clydesdales beat Burleigh in this weekend?s ABC Televised clash.
The bottom appears to have fallen out of the Clydesdales season and without inspirational hooker, Barry Berrigan (suspended) there appears little chance of a win against the Bears.
Redcliffe and Wynnum clash in the battle of the bayside at Kougari Oval on Sunday and Wynnum should attract the season?s biggest crowd at a suburban football field in Brisbane.
Injury hit Ipswich meanwhile face a tough task against Easts at Langlands Park on Saturday with Easts looking to finish the season on a positive note. The Jets must win this game and secure the two premiership points to stay in the race for a top 3 spot.
In matches with no bearing on the finals Central host North Queensland at Browne Park, Rockhampton on Saturday night and Norths host Wests at Bishop Park on Sunday. The Young Guns and the Devils are expected to win but an upset is always on the cards.
Next weekend the minor premiership will be decided with the current ?big four? facing a mixed bag of games.
Wynnum have the easiest task ? against Wests at Purtell Park on Sunday.
Redcliffe and Ipswich have games against Easts and Toowoomba respectively which have the potential for upset results but really the Dolphins and Jets should prevail.
Burleigh have the toughest task because they face Tweed Heads Seagulls at Piggabeen.
If Tweed get over Souths Magpies this weekend as everyone expects and they beat Burleigh the Seagulls could even leapfrog three of the ?big four? into second spot on the ladder.
It makes for a fascinating finish to the premiership rounds with the finals to kick off on the weekend of August 30-31 with team two playing team three and team four playing team five in the knockout clash.
The minor premiers will have a bye and play the following weekend against the winners of the team 2 v 3 clash. The loser of team 4 v 5 will be eliminated with the winner playing the loser of 2 v 3.
THE 2003 Queensland Cup finals series promises to be one of the most open on record with all five sides a genuine chance of claiming the title.
WITH only four rounds of the 2003 Queensland Cup season to be conducted 6 teams remain in contention for a semi-final spot but arguably the ?form? team, Norths lies out of contention on 17 points. The Devils late season surge, after an injury plagued early part of the year, has produced six wins and a draw in 8 rounds.
The three feature games of round 19 will be played on the Sunday with big crowds expected at all three venues as teams look to cement finals positions.
Competition leaders, Ipswich will play Norths at Bishop Park with Norths keen to continue their giant killing frame of mind, most notably last weekend?s defeat of Burleigh Bears in the ABC TV Game.
At Piggabeen, Tweed Heads Seagulls host the North Queensland Young Guns and this match could go either way even though the Young Guns are out of finals contention.
Tweed on the other hand are in fifth spot, one clear of Toowoomba and desperate to keep their foot in the door for the finals which start on August 30. The Seagulls are coming off a good win over Easts at Langlands Park.
TOOWOOMBA started the match strongly against Easts at Langlands Park before fading to a 42-24 loss in the ABC Television clash. Young Kiwi centre Jason Tiatia, trialling for a contract with the Broncos, made a break before linking with winger Nathan Stains to score the Clydesdales first try. Matt Lockyer found winger Steve Beattie with a good pass and then only minutes later Lockyer again put Beattie over for his second try and the Tigers led 10 ? 6. Easts hooker Mike Hobbs crossed under the posts to extend the margin before centre Ashley Alberts snared an intercept and raced 80 metres to score for the Clydesdales and the scores were 16 ? 12 at half-time. Only minutes after the break Lockyer scored to increase the lead but halfback Isaac Kaufmann crossed for Toowoomba to keep the Clydesdales in reach of a win and also their finals aspirations alive. The Tigers however had other ideas and they raced in a further four tries, winger Justin Loomans collecting a double, to record a convincing win. Easts second rower Mark Leafa, a former Sydney Roosters player, was named QRL man of the Match after a powerhouse performance.
NORTHS continued their recent hot form with an entertaining 28-26 win over Burleigh at Pizzey Park in the ABC Television match. The first 15 minutes had a ?semi-final? feel before a break to Devils centre Michael Crockett sent Derek Fletcher on a long dash for a try. Bears halfback Brent McConnell crossed for a good solo try to level the scores 6 all after 25 minutes. A try to second row Aaron Bulow gave Norths a 12-6 advantage but McConnell then grounded his own grubber in-goal for a smart try to again tie the scores. A pass from veteran centre Reggie Cressbrook saw Jeremy Lateo cross in the corner and Burleigh hit the front 16-12 on half-time.
THE garden city of Toowoomba is the centre of attention this weekend with the home side the Clydesdales? season on the line.
WYNNUM has staged a number of ?escape acts? in Queensland Cup matches this season but Easts held on to win 36-32 in an entertaining ABC Television clash at Kougari Oval. An off-load from prop Jason Wrigley led to a try for Ross Sammut and then a strong try to five eight Grant Dutton gave the Tigers an early 10-0 lead. Three quick tries through skipper Scott Thorburn, an intercept to Matt Lockyer and winger Justin Loomans increased Easts lead to 26-0 at the 32 minute mark. A 40/20 kick from Denny Lambert saw Wynnum benefit when winger Herman Lafaele scored and fullback David Seage then crossed for a good team try to narrow the margin to 26-10 at half-time.
THE Queensland Cup?s ?Super Six? have a chance to consolidate their positions on the top half of the premiership ladder when they play bottom ranked sides this weekend.
Competition leaders, Wynnum Seagulls play Easts at Kougari Oval in Saturday?s ABC televised clash with Easts officials admitting they are already looking to next year.
Easts? big loss to Norths last weekend kept them on 14 points, six points behind the sixth placed Tweed Seagulls.
Tweed play bottom side Wests at Piggabeen on Sunday and the boys from south of the border should record a big win.
Burleigh, Toowoomba and Ipswich share second spot on the premiership ladder on 23 points, two behind Wynnum.
Burleigh face a tough task against Central Comets in Rockhampton on Saturday night and Toowoomba will not have things all their own way against Norths Devils at Bishop Park on Sunday.
But Ipswich Jets should record a comfortable win over Souths Logan Magpies at Davies Park on Sunday so the pressure is on Burleigh and Toowoomba.
Toowoomba and Norths are the feeder clubs for NRL outfits Brisbane and Melbourne respectively who play in Melbourne on the same day.
If either club can win both ?grades? it will be great cause for celebration.
Fifth placed Redcliffe (21) will also not have things easy against the North Queensland Young Guns in Townsville on Saturday night in the curtain-raiser to the Cowboys ? St George Illawarra clash.
A loss here by Redcliffe and a win to the Tweed would see the Seagulls leapfrog the Dolphins into fifth spot.
If the ?Super Six? all record wins the gap between the top six and bottom six will grow even wider and we may not be able to talk about sides having a ?mathematical chance? of making the finals. Not while keeping a straight face anyway.