25 rounds, 192 games, #Origin on a Sunday, and a September Grand Final.
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ROUND 21 PREVIEW
TWEED HEADS v REDCLIFFE DOLPHINS
Piggabeen Sports, Saturday, August 27 - 2pm* Live on ABC 1
With only two more games remaining, the Tweed Heads Seagulls are aiming to become the first team in the history of the competition to go an entire Cup season undefeated. In fact, no team has won 20 games in a regular season, an achievement that the Seagulls could reach as soon as this weekend.
However, they face two challenging games, starting with this Saturday's ABC1 TV game against the always dangerous Redcliffe Dolphins. While the Seagulls showed their trademark defensive grit in the hard-fought 11-4 win against the Ipswich Jets, they were less cohesive in their attack and will be looking to improve this weekend.
The Dolphins however, were not so hindered in attack, scoring five tries in their 24-12 win over the Norths Devils in a game they controlled from the outset. The same 17 will run out this weekend for Tweed Heads and Redcliffe too have made minimal adjustments with James Ackerman named to return in place of Nick Read.
This home game for the Seagulls will also see them play in pink and black jerseys to help raise awareness for the Breast Cancer Foundation, with free entry to the ground for all women who attend the game. Head to head, Redcliffe have won 14 games to the Tweed's five.
EASTS TIGERS v BURLEIGH BEARS
Langlands Park, Saturday, August 27 - 3pm
The Easts Tigers are aiming to end the season on a high note, having now won their past two games. Last week, the Tigers gate-crashed the stadium opening party of the Mackay Cutters and coach Troy McCarthy is set to go in with the same 17 that upset the Cutters 16-14.
Adam Breen - who scored a try in last weekend's win - has again been named at fullback but there is a chance of regular custodian Kevin Stephensen returning to the field if he passes a fitness test in the final training session on Friday. Stephensen, the Tigers' leading try scorer with 13, has been battling a hamstring injury in recent weeks.
The match represents Burleigh's last throw of the dice and the Bears will have a new leader for the must-win encounter with prop Liam McDonald taking over the captaincy. Burleigh would need to win its last two games and hope other results fall their way to be any hope of sneaking into sixth position.
But coach Paul Bramley's immediate focus will be on producing a consistent 80 minute performance against the dangerous Tigers. Burleigh's losing run of five matches is their worst in the Queensland Cup and they have now gone eight games without a win.
MACKAY CUTTERS v SOUTHS LOGAN
Virgin Australia Stadium - Mackay, Saturday, August 27 - 6.30pm
The Cutters will again be playing at their impressive new facility in a match that holds the key to their finals prospects. A huge crowd was on hand last weekend for their first match at the eye-catching venue, but they were disappointed to watch their team go down to a committed Easts Tigers outfit.
The Anthony Seibold-coached team faces a difficult task to bring down the Souths Logan Magpies, impressive 40-22 winners over the Northern Pride last weekend in an important clash at Bamaga. Magpies coach Mark Beaumont has named an unchanged team for this clash that could see them climb the ladder to sit in second position in what would be a remarkable achievement for a side that has flown under the radar this season.
The Cutters will be without Chad Grintell who suffered a season-ending groin injury, while Bureta Faraimo is also under a cloud with an ankle problem. However, the experienced Clint Amos will play at hooker and rugby-bound centre Will Tupou is set to return after injury kept him on the sideline last week. Interestingly, the Cutters won the first clash between these teams in 2008 but Souths Logan have answered with six straight victories.
CENTRAL COMETS v IPSWICH JETS
Browne Park, Saturday, August 27 - 6pm
Key playmaker Ian Lacey is expected to make a surprise appearance for the Jets in Saturday's clash against the Central Comets. Lacey left the field early in the second half of Ipswich's tight loss to Tweed Heads last weekend and medical staff were concerned that the former Bronco had torn a hamstring.
However, Lacey was only feeling the effects of a pinched nerve and he emerged through Tuesday's training session unscathed in a positive sign for the Ipswich outfit. A win over the Comets would secure fifth spot for the Jets, meaning they would avoid a near impossible assignment against unbeaten Tweed in the opening week of the finals.
Although out of finals contention, the Comets loom as a difficult opponent, particularly as they won their last two matches at Browne Park before last week's loss to the Sunshine Coast. In the head to head stakes, Ipswich enjoys the advantage with 17 wins to Central's 10. One match has been drawn. On the milestone front, Ipswich centre Donald Malone plays his 50th Cup match for the Jets and his 110th overall game.
NORTHS DEVILS v NORTHERN PRIDE
Bishop Park, Sunday, August 28 - 3pm
The Northern Pride took part in a historic match in Queensland's Cape region last weekend, and while the game itself was a success, the defending premiers were less than happy about the result. The local favourites were outplayed by the Souths Logan Magpies 40-22 in a performance that irked coach David Maiden.
However, Maiden is confident his side can bounce back, despite the expected loss of Cowboys forward Scott Bolton who is poised to return to the NRL. In a major boost, skipper Ty Williams will return to the team at five-eighth, with Chey Bird switching back to his preferred fullback position.
They will also welcome back Joel Riethmuller in the back-row as well as Rod Jensen to the bench. Norths too suffered a disappointing loss against the Redcliffe Dolphins, and their 24-12 result put paid to their valiant effort to nab an unlikely finals place. Young guns Joel Bailey, Zach Koitka, Dylan Galloway and Trent Richardson have been named for the Devils' final home game of the season at Bishop Park.
WYNNUM MANLY v SUNSHINE COAST
BMD Kougari Oval, Sunday, August 28 - 3pm
The Wynnum Manly Seagulls put in a disciplined performance last weekend to hold out the Burleigh Bears. They also firmed their chances of taking the remaining spot in the finals, and a win here in their last home game at BMD Kougari Oval would almost certainly guarantee them a semi-final berth next month.
While things were tight in the first half last weekend, they managed to pull away in the second to score a 32-12 win at Pizzey Park, the first time they have done so since 2007. Although they will no doubt be buoyed by that performance, this week's challengers the Sunshine Coast Sea Eagles are coming off an impressive win of their own.
The underdogs ran in eight tries to three in their victory over the Central Comets, with youngsters Mitchell Buckett and Hughie Stanley both scoring hat-tricks in the morale-boosting win that showcased the club's enormous potential.
Stanley now only needs one try to equal the Sea Eagles' single season try-scoring record of 15 set by Shane Neumann in the Sunshine Coast's 2009 premiership year.