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BURLEIGH v REDCLIFFE, Pizzey Park, Saturday 2pm, September 10.
While it will be a tough ask to top the 4100 that Burleigh set in a pre-season match against the Newcastle Knights, officials are confident of testing the 3200 that saw the Bears host Toowoomba in 2001.
Redcliffe traditionally boasts the best ?traveling? fans in the competition and, with 168 wins, is the most dominant team since the Cup?s inception in 1996. Burleigh ranks second on 143 wins, but has played one less season.
With the forecast of a warm afternoon, Burleigh playing sudden death in all grades and the Brisbane Broncos semi final screening in the clubhouse afterwards, there are plenty of attractive facets to the day.
Both teams have indicated they will appear as per programmed, although there are injury concerns for backs Balin Cupples (Burleigh) and Greg Bourke (Redcliffe). Cupples, pictured, has not trained since being hospitalised in the major semi final loss against North Queensland and will undergo a doctor?s examination of his neck on Friday. Bourke will also have to prove his fitness after the continuation of a nagging ankle injury.
It remains to be seen whether either camp will spring a surprise by bringing players back from supposed season-ending injuries. Burleigh hooker Ryan Gundry (quadriceps) and Redcliffe prop Adam Starr (facial fracture) could be two contenders in this category. Queensland Residents representative Jamie Russo (sternum) is not believed to be under consideration by the Dolphins.
Fans of both clubs will be pleased to know the majority of players have been re-signed to play again in 2006. Of Redcliffe?s first grade side this week, only Penrith-bound duo Wayne Bond and Liam Georgetown are set to leave.
Burleigh has a little more going on in its ranks. Veteran centre Nick Shaw is facing retirement, while Robert Apanui is considering a move to France. Cupples announced earlier this year that he would join the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
The Bears have announced the signing of NRL-experienced Matt Riddle, the leading tryscorer at the 2003 World Sevens. Others destined for Miami are former juniors Marty Mitchell, Ben Farrell and Josh Blatsh, all of whom have spent time in NRL development systems.
During regular season fixtures this year Burleigh gained the edge over Redcliffe on both occasions. The Bears won 32-22 at Pizzey Park in Round Three and then followed with an outstanding performance to win 56-6 at Dolphin Oval in Round Thirteen.
Goal-kicking rivals Reggie Cressbrook (206) and Bourke (168) finished as the two highest pointscorers in the Cup after 22 rounds. However neither kicked last weekend, with Trent Leis and Liam Georgetown filling their respective duties.
Cressbrook also has 83 career tries to date, making him equal third on the all-time list with Dolphin winger Phil Shilvock. At present they appear the most likely players to break the magical 100 mark, although Mackay?s interest in rejoining the State League in 2006 could revive the career of Heath Egglestone, stuck on 99 tries.
Saturday?s main game will be controlled by referee Rob Alexander. Hailing from Bundaberg, Alexander was not eligible for the South East Division Referee of the Year Award announced on Monday. Brett Suttor won the nod from judges instead.
The winning team from this match will play the North Queensland Young Guns in the grand final at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday, September 17.
BURLEIGH: Reggie Cressbrook, Balin Cupples, Nick Shaw, Trent Leis, Aseri Laing, Adam Hayden, David Hicks, Ali Brown ?, Matt Doeg, Shane O?Flanagan, Martin Griese, Adam Hutchison, Adrian Vowles. Interchange: James Griffiths, Jeremy Lateo, Chris Barnes, Robert Apanui.
REDCLIFFE: Ryan Cullen, Phil Shilvock, Greg Bourke, Nick Emmett, Liam Georgetown, Wayne Bond, Shane Perry ?, Nick Walker, Mick Roberts, Troy Lindsay, Grant Flugge, Danny Burke, Danny Green. Interchange: Duane O?Grady, Shannon Fish, Matt Mapes, Damien Jentz.
This article is courtesy of the QRL for more Queensland Wizaed Cup information visit www.qrl.com.au