ICYMI, on Thursday the @NRL - National Rugby League released the 2018 #NRLDraw.
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SEMI FINAL PREVIEW
SOUTHS LOGAN v REDCLIFFE DOLPHINS
Brandon Park, Saturday, September 10 - 2pm* Live on ABC 1
The battle of the Brisbane big guns kicks off this year's Intrust Super Cup finals series and things could hardly be more even. The Souths Logan Magpies recorded one more win this season than the Redcliffe Dolphins, recording 15 wins to clinch third spot on the ladder, while the Dolphins with 14 finished fourth.
The clubs also battled it out for the Spotless Services Club Championship, with the Dolphins taking the honours with 297 points, ahead of the Magpies with 269. The last time these two teams played was in round 19, and there, they could not be separated, with the game ending in a thrilling 16-16 draw. However, recent history has the odds stacked in favour of the Magpies, with the records showing Redcliffe has not beaten Souths Logan since 2008 (in seven games - they have recorded six losses and a draw).
In their aim to break their recent drought, the Dolphins have been dealt a bitter blow with livewire Joe Bond set to take no further part in their finals campaign. Bond was struck down with a hamstring injury in the Dolphins' 38-24 win over the Central Comets in the final round of the competition, and Delroy Berryman has been named to take his place at fullback for the match.
Mitch Rivett will join him in the backline at the expense of Alwyn Simpson while Troy Giess is the other change to the team after being named in the back-row. Souths Logan have kept the same 17 who were made to work the entire game by the Norths Devils during their 30-28 win last weekend. Tall centre Paul Ivan will play his 50th Queensland Cup game for Redcliffe and his 56th overall, having played six games for Norths.
* Head-to-Head: Redcliffe 21 Souths-Logan 8 Drawn 1
* Head-to-Head Finals: Souths-Logan 1 Redcliffe 0
TWEED HEADS v WYNNUM MANLY
Piggabeen Sports, Saturday, September 10 - 3pm *Live call on BayFM 100.3
Statistically, it is set to be one of the bigger mismatches in the history of the Queensland Cup semi-finals. The Tweed Heads Seagulls equalled the highest ever points recorded in a season (41, equal with Toowoomba in 2001) on their way to the minor premiership, while Wynnum have made history for being the first team to make the semi finals having recorded more losses than wins in the regular season.
However, they say that finals football is a whole different ball game and prior form doesn't count for much when the referee blows the whistle. Both teams will be looking for that maxim to ring true - with the sides coming off final-round losses. Wynnum Manly perhaps have the most to worry about, having been outclassed 40-10 by an under strength Ipswich Jets - while Tweed suffered their first loss of the season going down 16-10 to the Northern Pride.
Wynnum Manly have made a raft of changes for this do-or-die match, bringing in five players for the game. Tim Natusch will join Brisbane Broncos Dane Carlaw and Mitchell Dodds in the forwards, while Matt Grieve and Sam Te'o have been included in the backline. Charlie Gubb and Jon Grieve have been moved to the bench, with Chris Birch and Steve Darby the players to miss the semi-final.
Tweed Heads however, have only made the one change, with Will Matthews coming in at lock after playing the later stages of the season with the Gold Coast Titans. Selasi Berdie will start in the back-row, while Dean Murphy is the player to drop off the bench.
In milestone news, it will be hooker John Te Reo's 50th Queensland Cup game for Wynnum Manly and his 85th overall, having previously played for Toowoomba and Aspley. Join Mike Higgison and Troy Robbins for the preview and call on BayFM 100.3
Head-to-Head: Tweed 11 Wynnum 8
Head-to-Head Finals: Wynnum 1 Tweed 0
NORTHERN PRIDE v IPSWICH JETS
Barlow Park, Saturday, September 10 - 5.30pm * streamed live at www.northernpride.com.au
Under-strength Ipswich faces a massive challenge to avoid an early execution against the defending premiers in the third semi-final to be played on Saturday. Without fearless skipper Keiron Lander and the anticipated absence of several front-liners, the Jets face a daunting assignment against a Northern Pride outfit which became the first team to beat the minor premiership-winning Tweed Heads Seagulls last Friday night.
The Jets have endured a disrupted preparation and the 17 for the trip to Cairns won't be finalised until several players undergo fitness tests at training tonight. To avoid a season-ending loss, Ipswich will have to somehow find the grunt in the middle to match motors with a much bigger and more experienced Pride forward pack led by representative players Luke Harlen and Joel Riethmuller.
The Jets, drifting $17 outsiders to win a maiden Queensland Cup premiership, will also have to overcome a horror record against the Pride. In their four previous visits to Cairns, the Jets have returned home with just one victory - way back in 2008. In fact, Ipswich has only beaten the Pride once in their past six meetings since their 08' semi-final win over the northerners at Briggs Road.
But despite that record and the injury setbacks, Ipswich co-coaches Shane and Ben Walker will ensure the Jets won't die wondering. Led by in-form five-eighth Brendon Lindsay, the patched up Jets beat Wynnum Manly 40-10 last weekend to give their supporters some hope.
The settled Pride outfit enjoyed a few days off after the win over Tweed and have made just the one change it its line-up with Noel Underwood making his way on to the bench in the place of Aidan Day.
Pride players Harlen and Brett Anderson are both set to achieve career milestones this weekend, with Harlen playing his 50th Queensland Cup game overall (Pride and North Queensland) and Anderson his 50th game for the Pride (and 64th overall, having also played for North Queensland). Following a successful trial last weekend, the game will be streamed live and is available by visiting www.northernpride.com.au.
Head-to-Head: Pride 5 Ipswich 3 Drawn 1
Head-to-Head Finals: Ipswich 1 Pride 0