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PREVIEW: QRL ISC Round 26
Ipswich received a massive boost last night when skipper Keiron Lander was found not guilty of Grade 1 Contrary Conduct at the QRL judiciary. The result paves the way for Lander to play in tomorrow's must-win match against the Redcliffe Dolphins at the North Ipswich Reserve. An Ipswich victory would confirm a fourth-straight finals appearance for the Jets under the guidance of co-coaches Shane and Ben Walker. However, a loss would see them miss the top five with competition newcomers the PNG Hunters the beneficiaries. Eleventh-placed Redcliffe have endured a frustrating season but with the likes of Adrian Davis, Aaron Whitchurch, Zach Strasser, Cameron Cullen, Dave Hala and Jon Green in the line-up, the Phins have the talent to upstage the Jets. The match will be Hala's 50th game for the Dolphins in the Intrust Super Cup. A big crowd is expected at the Reserve for Ipswich's annual Old Boys Day, and local fans will rally behind popular 150-game club stalwart Brendon Marshall who announced his retirement last night.
EASTS TIGERS v WYNNUM MANLY SEAGULLS
Langlands Park on Sunday, August 31 - 2pm* (Live on Channel 9/WIN/NBN)
Referee: Clayton Sharpe
Head to Head: Easts 18 Wynnum 17 Drawn 1
Twitter: #intrustsupercup #TIGESvWYN
Live call: Tiger on Air
In an interesting twist - these two sides will meet again next week in the qualifying semi-final. However, the result of this match will decide where it will be played, with both teams keen to claim the right to host that match in front of their parochial home crowd. One of the Tigers key weapons will be missing this weekend with Cameron Munster to be sidelined (with a one-match ban) for a shoulder charge offence. Eddie Tautali has been named as his replacement at fullback, while other changes to the Tigers line-up sees Liam McDonald to return for John Puna. Wynnum Manly are coming off the bye and will field three changes to their round 24 side that defeated PNG. Tanu Wulf starts for Billy Solah at prop, John Te Reo comes onto the bench for Lachlan Bristow and Alehana Mara into the hooking role for Jake Granville. However, Granville has not been named for the Broncos, and is likely to feature. This weekend is also the Turn to Me round supportingbeyondblue, with the initiative to feature prominently in Sunday's Channel 9 telecast. In milestone news, Shane Neumann will play his 100th Cup game for Easts and his 119th overall, having previously played for the Sunshine Coast.
Tweed Heads are throwing open the gates for their crucial final home match of the regular season. Tweed will automatically qualify for the finals if the Jets losetomorrow. However, an Ipswich victory would keep the heat on the Seagulls, as they would be bundled out of the top five if they lose by 12 points or more. Piggabeen is the place to be on Sunday with face painting, jumping castles, pass the ball and goal kicking tips from Seagulls players for the kids. The club will also be raising money for the children's ward of the Tweed Hospital and the Bush Fire Brigade with a raffle. On the field - it is set to be a great game, with the two sides having a history of close encounters. Nine of their 13 games have been decided by a converted try or less, including four draws. Gulls coach Aaron Zimmerle has named an unchanged side to the one that got their season back on track with a strong 26-4 win over the Falcons at a sodden Sunshine Coast Stadium last weekend. They will come up against a committed Cutters group who have found their rhythm in the second half of the season and are in good form. Mackay forward Kelvin Nielsen has been named to play after serving a one-match suspension, with prop Dan Beasley also named to return to the side. Rohan Ahern and Pulou Vaituutuu are the players to make way.
After last week's disappointing loss to the Easts Tigers, the Bears are back home for their final match of the season against the Northern Pride on Sunday. The Bears have won only one of their past nine matches against the Pride, and with nothing but respect to play for, will look to improve on their 26-10 loss in round 12. After a convincing victory over finals rivals the Ipswich Jets last weekend, the Pride are priming themselves for September football. The minor premiers have made just one change to last week's side, adding young half Jared Allen to an extended bench. The Bears will welcome back Kyle McConnell, James Dunley and current leading points scorer Khan Ahwang onto the bench, with Francis Veukiso, Chris Kitching and Shaun Maloney making way. Cowboys forward Ricky Thorby will play his 50th Cup game for the Pride this weekend (and his 55th overall), and will look to make an impact up front in the absence of injured regulars Ben Spina and Alex Starmer.
The Falcons will fly into Magpie territory on Sunday - hoping to add one more win to their season tally. The Sunshine Coast went down to a determined Tweed Heads last week; while Souths Logan also struggled against another side who were playing for their finals chances in the Hunters. The Magpies tried hard throughout - but couldn't contain PNG who have proven they can score tries from anywhere, including from deep within their own half. For this final match of the season, coach Josh Hannay has recalled Tim Brooks to the centres, with Brandon Khuu returning to the Colts side, while Mitch Cronin moves from hooker to fullback. Unfortunately, the Magpies will be without lock Leon Panapa, who suffered a neck injury last weekend. His place will be taken by Aotealofa Tuimavave. For the Falcons, Mboya Adams has been named to replace Liam Anlezark at prop. Positional changes see Kyle van Klaveren move from five-eighth to fullback, Tom Murphy to five-eighth from lock and Callum Klein into the centres after holding the custodian role against the Seagulls.
The Norths Devils lit up Bishop Park last weekend in a nine-try romp against the Dolphins, and will look to finish the season in similar fashion when they return to their home ground this Sunday. They will be hosting the CQ Capras - who were unable to stop the Cutters from posting a 40-20 win last weekend. The Devils however were back to their early-season best last weekend; and having won the past five encounters between the two sides, they will enter this contest confident of another victory. However, the Central Queensland side have left the Nundah venue victorious on the past two occasions they played there, in 2008 and 2011. The Devils have named Mark Vaiao to replace Byron Creighton, while the Capras have made four changes from last weekend. Mitch Hallinan, Smith Samau and Shannon Rupapere return to the starting side for Sam Doherty, Hayden Buckman and Reece Baker respectively; Brody Mayne drops off the bench to be replaced by Sam Madden. The Capras started strongly against Mackay last week before dropping away in the second half. If Jason Hetherington's men can keep that intensity for 80 minutes on Sunday, expect a closer score line to the 38-8 result to the Devils in round 7.