While the 2018 #NRL Pre-Season is still a few weeks away, there's a bunch of warm-up clashes happeni...
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ROUND 22 PREVIEW
NORTHERN PRIDE v TWEED HEADS
Barlow Park, Friday, September 2 - 7pm
The Northern Pride are aiming to become the first and the only team to defeat the minor premiership-winning Tweed Heads Seagulls during the regular season when they host the minor premiers in a Friday night blockbuster. There is a lot riding on the result of the game, as a win here would see the Pride finish in second position on the ladder.
This week's game at Barlow Park signals another tough outing for Tweed Heads, who last weekend battled not only the Redcliffe Dolphins, but atrocious conditions at Piggabeen on their way to their 20th win of the season. The Seagulls are likely to be without injured pair Cody Nelson and Selasi Berdie but will still field a formidable outfit. For the Pride, Aidan Day makes his Intrust Super Cup debut, but the hosts look set to lose Cory Paterson who has been added to an extended Cowboys bench.
Like he has done many times before this season, the Pride's Chey Bird is closing in on another point scoring milestone, and only needs 10 more points to make it 200 for the season. His skipper, Ty Williams, will play his 50th Cup game (he has also played for Young Guns and Cairns), while Seagulls forward Jake Leary is also playing his 50th, all for Tweed Heads.
IPSWICH JETS v WYNNUM MANLY
North Ipswich Reserve, Saturday, September 3 - 2pm
Live on ABC 1
Both of these teams may have secured their finals berth last weekend, but there is still plenty riding on this final round match of the regular season. The two teams are set to face two challenging teams in the semi-finals, with Wynnum Manly having the unenviable task of playing the Tweed Heads Seagulls, while the Jets will be forced to play either the Northern Pride or the Souths Logan Magpies.
Victory in this round 22 game will not only provide a boost to the confidence, but it will also give the winner valuable momentum going into the finals series. The Seagulls look the more settled team at this point, given that the Jets have made a host of changes from the team that beat the Central Comets 16-10 due to injuries.
There are a number of Ipswich Jets players reaching milestones this week, with Brendon Lindsay (Logan/Gold Coast/Ipswich) set to play in his 200th Queensland Cup game, making him only the ninth player to achieve this, while Luke Walker will take to the field for his 100th game in the competition, all for Ipswich.
Star centre Donald Malone will also play a special game, running out for his 50th Cup match for the Jets and his 110th overall, having also played for Toowoomba, Easts and Mackay.
REDCLIFFE DOLPHINS v CENTRAL COMETS
Dolphin Oval, Saturday, September 3 - 2pm
Adding another layer of intrigue to this final round of the Intrust Super Cup, a win here for the Dolphins could see them end the year in third position. A top three spot will see them host a home semi-final, and any advantage gained during the finals series is a welcome one.
Last weekend, the Dolphins were unable to overcome the Tweed Heads Seagulls in horrible conditions, with the heavy rain and mud playing havoc with the best laid plans of both sides. The Comets too have much to play for, with coach Wayne Barnett set to depart at the end of the season. This week's Redcliffe team changes sees the recall of Alwyn Simpson to the wing for Mitch Rivett, while Mike Afioga is on the bench for Derrick Watkins.
The Comets too will feature a different 17 from last weekend, with Nat Bowman, Mat Templeman and Dallas Williams not named. Daniel Palavi and Mick Esdale move into the side, while Alan Rothery has again been named on the bench after making a successful return last weekend.
Rothery was involved in a horror truck crash earlier this year and has worked hard to fight his way back into the side. In milestone news, Redcliffe representative winger Liam Georgetown needs only eight more points to score 200 for the season.
EASTS TIGERS v SUNSHINE COAST
Langlands Park, Saturday, September 3 - 3pm
The Easts Tigers may have left their good run until late in the season, but their current form will see them go in as favourites for this game. The last home game of the season for the Tigers, there is bound to be a healthy crowd on hand - especially given the fact they have won their past three games in a row and will be looking to end the season with a bang.
Last week, the Tigers ended the Burleigh Bears' hopes of making the finals with a 10-6 win at a waterlogged Langlands Park. The late inclusion of Kevin Stephensen and Isaac Kaufmann strengthened their side, and the two key players have again been named to take to the field in an unchanged side this weekend.
This week's opponents the Sunshine Coast have shown plenty of spark this season, and have some firepower in their side to cause opposition team's plenty of headaches. Despite having the home ground advantage, Easts have not beaten Sunshine Coast at Langlands Park.
For the Sea Eagles, livewire fullback Hughie Stanley has not been named in a blow to the side. Chris McGill has been listed in his place, while outgoing coach Adam Mogg has named an extended bench featuring Jye Ballinger and Campbell Stewart.
BURLEIGH BEARS v MACKAY CUTTERS
Pizzey Park, Saturday, September 3 - 5.30pm
These teams will be ruing an opportunity lost, with both the Bears and the Cutters missing out on finals football by only a handful of wins. In recent times, it has become a familiar story for the Bears to finish just outside finals contention, and a win here would see them finish seventh and miss the semi-finals by one place - making it the fourth season in a row (and five of the last six) that they have done this.
However, the Bears have much to play for this Saturday, as it will be the last game for retiring stalwart Nick Parfitt. The outside back will exit the game as the leading all time try scorer in the Queensland Cup having scored 113 in his time in the competition. The club will be making a special presentation to Parfitt - who has played 92 games for Burleigh and 81 games for Toowoomba.
The Cutters have a perfect record at Pizzey Park and Anthony Seibold's team will be confident they can finish the season on a high despite not having the services of Leeson Ah Mau and Bureta Faraimo from last weekend. A Mackay win would provide outgoing Cutters CEO Jamie McDonald with the perfect send off. A former North Queensland player, McDonald has been the backbone of the Cutters' rise.
SOUTHS LOGAN v NORTHS DEVILS
Davies Park, Sunday, September 4 - 3pm
The final game to be played of the 2011 regular season, and the two Brisbane rivals always put on a good show. Although focused on the Devils clash, the finals-bound Magpies will be sweating on the result from the Pride's clash with Tweed. If the Tweed beats the Pride, then the Magpies can secure second spot with a victory over the young Devils.
Last time these two teams met, the Magpies were 40-0 victors and it was the only time Norths have failed to score in a Queensland Cup match in their history, and given the Devils' end-of-season improvement, that scoreline is unlikely to happen again. Souths Logan will field an unchanged side for the match, while the Devils will start Brisbane Bronco Dunamis Lui in the back-row for the match with Cody Herrington also coming into the side.
Devils forward Troyden Watene will play in his 50th Queensland Cup game for Norths this weekend and his 66th overall having played for Aspley in the past. Following his two-try effort in last week's loss to Northern Pride, last year's Intrust Super Cup leading try scorer Daniel Ogden has now drawn level with Steven Bell and Kevin Carmichael as Norths' highest Cup try-scorer with 45.