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FULL match reports attached for Round 19 of the QLD Wizard Cup.
REDCLIFFE 32 d SOUTHS LOGAN 28
AN INCH-PERFECT kick from Michael Roberts delivered Greg Bourke a match-stealing try with two minutes remaining as Redcliffe overpowered Souths Logan 32-28 at Dolphin Oval on Sunday.
After trailing for the whole game, the Dolphins turned the result around in the nick of time, gifting Troy Lindsay victory in his record-equalling 261st first grade game for the club.
Earlier Lindsay had featured in a special presentation with Peter Leis, the long-time record-holder for most games in a Dolphins jersey.
?We had a really good build-up because of that (Lindsay?s milestone),? Redcliffe coach Anthony Griffin said.
?It probably got us home, because if we?d been any lighter on we would have been beaten.
?Everyone has tremendous respect for Troy?s ethic and wanted to do well for him. There was an extra will to win.?
At the same time however, Griffin conceded that the special occasion may have led to certain players being a ?bit funny? and ?trying too hard? for the victory.
Souths Logan led 22-12 at halftime and 26-12 shortly after the break, with Brandon Costin in the type of form which has made him a front-runner for this year?s QANTAS Player of the Year.
The veteran playmaker was named in jersey 13, but was a general in all departments, despite carrying a painful shoulder injury.
?Costin caused us a world of trouble with his decision-making and passing,? assessed Griffin.
?He was sensational. When he?s playing that sort of footy you have to say he?s still on the top of his game.?
Costin?s one-two punch with Chris Sandow in attack caused the Dolphins plenty of headaches, although the big red-and-white pack made the slight Sandow work extra hard in defence.
Souths Logan returned the favour by running their biggest men at Redcliffe hooker Michael Roberts, another genuine game-breaker. The ploy looked to have reaped dividends until just before fulltime when Roberts was stranded with the ball on the last tackle, as the defence stampeded down on him.
Although sensing an overlap out wide Roberts was unable to pass through the Souths Logan umbrella and instead chose to lob a kick just above head height to Bourke. Completing the movement, Bourke snatched the ball and scored his 10th try of the season.
The win for Redcliffe keeps the Dolphins narrowly ahead of Toowoomba in second place, although the for-and-against record for both teams is separated by a hair?s breadth.
Next Saturday, Redcliffe faces North Queensland in Townsville at 5.30pm and Souths Logan hosts Wynnum Manly at Brandon Park at 3pm.
REDCLIFFE 32 (Nick Emmett, Greg Bourke, Troy Lindsay, Chris Giumelli, Danny Green, Kaine Manihera tries; Greg Bourke 4 goals) d SOUTHS LOGAN 28 (Michael Anschau 2, Jerry Ahern, Mase Laulu-Togagae, Derek Fletcher tries; Brandon Costin 4 goals) at Dolphin Oval.
NORTHS 38 d IPSWICH 26
A ?NIGHTMARE? outing against Ipswich has seen Norths stretched to the limit and left skipper Aaron Bulow?s career at the crossroads after a season-ending knee injury.
Playing against his former club, 24-year-old Bulow ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament in the opening half and was a forlorn figure as the Devils trailed the Jets 26-12 early in the second half.
Bulow, an OP1 student who started the season late due to business interests, had been in the peak of form and was said to have attracted NRL interest with his tireless and robust play.
Now he faces the long road to recovery, becoming the seventh Norths player to require a full knee reconstruction in 2006.
If there was a silver lining to the game for the Devils it was the spirited revival at the death, featuring two slick pieces of play by Chris Walker, scoring a long-range try himself and setting up another for Ryan Shortland.
Shortland also pocketed a fortuitous try from a loose ball on the ground to lift the Nundah club clear of this season?s likely wooden spooners.
?It was a massive fight?a nightmare to be quite honest,? said Norths coach Wayne Treleaven.
?Ipswich played real good footy I thought. They were aggressive defensively and we had to work very hard to beat them.
?If it wasn?t for a bit of brilliance and a bit of luck we would have been in trouble.?
The match started with a try to Norths in the opening minute. However, Treleaven suggested this was the worst possible scenario, as he feared his team was already lacking the mental intensity to compete for the full 80 minutes.
Ipswich had beaten Norths 38-36 in a lacklustre Round 10 display and when the Jets again took the lead at Bishop Park, it appeared a repeat may be on the cards.
Yet Walker seized the game, just as he had a week earlier against Wynnum Manly, making inroads on the back of strong play up front by Jeff Lima and Jamie Feeney.
?Chris Walker can play footy, there?s no doubt about that,? said Treleaven, the man who coached Wests on the day that Walker scored seven tries against them while playing for Toowoomba.
?He?s been great for us. He copped a bit of concussion out there today, but battled on and had an impact.?
In the most extreme of scenarios Norths can still make the final five. However this relies on both Tweed Heads and Easts losing all their remaining games. At the same time the Devils would need to beat Toowoomba, Central and Souths Logan in the last three rounds.
Treleaven?s men feature in next Saturday?s match of the round against the Clydesdales at Clive Berghofer Stadium at 3pm. That night at 7.30pm Ipswich plays Central in Rockhampton.
NORTHS 38 (Ryan Shortland 2, Chris Walker, Smith Samau, Steve Franciscus, Michael Bond, Jamie Feeney tries; Chris Walker 5 goals) d IPSWICH 26 (Ben McFadgean, Rickie Dodd, Chris Scanlan, Joel Reithmuller tries; Travis Baker 5 goals) at Bishop Park.
TOOWOOMBA 40 d WYNNUM MANLY 16
THE plaudits may have flowed thick and fast for schoolboy sensation David Taylor, but Toowoomba teammate Denan Kemp also continued to knock on the NRL door, posting three tries in a 40-16 win against Wynnum Manly.
In a fitting and spectacular end to a game which the Clydesdales led for all but a few minutes, prop Taylor steamrolled through a tackle and then offered a perfectly weighted kick to Kemp, completing a hat-trick for the winger on the siren.
St Brendan?s Yeppoon student Taylor had enjoyed a wow of a game, monstering much older opposition and instigating numerous breaks.
?This kid is a superstar in the making,? offered Bay FM commentator Steve Hawkins, drawing comparisons to the rise of Greg Inglis.
?The (Brisbane) Broncos should have him signed for the next decade. He will play for Australia.?
It was not the first time that Taylor had been mentioned for higher honours down the track, however Hawkins words resonated in the aftermath of another mature and dominant display.
Among those that Taylor continued to lock horns with throughout the game was Gary Winter, the former Manly Sea Eagles forward who carries a reputation as a hardman of the game.
It was a pity then that speedster Kemp was denied the opportunity to face off against Simon Phillips, another match-up between experience and youth which whetted the appetite.
With Phillips out injured, Kemp grabbed three stunning tries in the second stanza, helping the Clydesdales recover after Wynnum Manly got as close as 16-12.
The first try to the Gold Coast product came with a screaming mark of a Pat Dall kick, displaying both the athleticism and hunger which have become his hallmarks.
He followed up with a blistering try along the sideline, set up by a pin-point pass from Brett Seymour, himself enjoying a great game.
Kemp?s final try, from the ad-lib kick of Taylor, took his season tally to 17 tries, making him second only to Tweed Heads? Nat Barnes (21 tries) on the try-scoring list this year. Across all seasons, the 19-year-old boasts one of the best try-per-game ratios in competition history.
Wynnum?s capitulation belied the club?s recent competitive form. It also bucked the usual winning trend which follows the announcement of a new coach.
On Friday the Seagulls revealed that former Super League Coach of the Year Shane McNally would take the reins from Neil Wharton in 2007. McNally is currently a development officer for the bayside outfit.
Next weekend the Seagulls travel to Brandon Park to face Souths Logan at 3pm Saturday. Toowoomba hosts Norths at 2pm Saturday in the match of the round at Clive Berghofer Stadium.
TOOWOOMBA 40 (Denan Kemp 3, Derricke Watkins 2, Steve Michaels, Ben Vaeau tries; Brett Seymour 6 goals) d WYNNUM MANLY 16 (Brian Jellick, Chris Currie, Jimmy Ahmat tries; Steve Irwin 2 goals) at BMD Kougari Oval.
TWEED HEADS 24 d EASTS 16
THE STAGE has been set for a cracking local derby between Tweed Heads and Burleigh at the Piggabeen Complex next Sunday, 3pm, in a game which could decide both teams? finals chances.
With the Seagulls beating Easts 24-16 and Burleigh slipping past North Queensland 24-22, both teams will have cause for confidence heading into the big clash.
Tweed?s major aim is to maintain a grip on fourth spot, a distinct possibility now that the Seagulls have more wins and a greater for-and-against than fifth-placed Easts.
Finishing fourth entitles to Seagulls to home-ground advantage in the elimination final.
There is even a long-shot possibility that Tweed Heads could climb into third, though that would require large wins in remaining games against Burleigh, Redcliffe and Wynnum Manly and other results falling its way.
For its part, Burleigh still has a faint hope of sneaking into fifth place and contesting its eighth successive finals series.
The Bears have only two games remaining and need wins against Tweed Heads and Ipswich, while simultaneously hoping that either Tweed or Easts loses all remaining matches.
It would be hard to see Tweed being the team to miss out after an inspired performance at Langlands Park on the weekend. The Seagulls led the Tigers 24-0 in a little over 50 minutes and displayed some beautiful combinations.
Before taking the foot off the accelerator, Tweed ran in five tries, many of them started via the attacking brilliance of centre James Wood. Having secured a spot in recent weeks through injuries to teammates, Wood has now made it hard for coach Steve Murphy to omit him.
As has been the case for most of this season Nat Barnes was again among the tries, grabbing two more to move to 21 from 17 games. The Cup record for any player in a 20-game season was 22 tries by Brent Webb, playing for Wests back in 2001.
As far as Easts is concerned, much of the power in the closing rounds rests with the three lowest-ranked clubs ? Ipswich, Central and Wynnum Manly.
Although their seasons are effectively over, both Ipswich and Central could turn the Tigers? season on its head. Easts has the bye in Round 20 and then faces the Jets, followed by the Comets. A loss to either side could destroy any chance of a home final. Defeats to both teams could mean missing the finals altogether.
Wynnum Manly also threatens to change the make-up of the finals, particularly with a Round 21 clash against North Queensland and a Round 22 fixture against Tweed Heads.
If Neil Wharton?s men can spring an upset in either game it could mean the Young Guns losing a hold of the minor premiership or Tweed Heads forfeiting a home final.
TWEED HEADS 24 (Nat Barnes 2, Ryan Milligan, Matt King, Andrew Moroney tries; Brad Davis 2 goals) d EASTS 16 (David Tyrrell, Mark Cantoni, Luke Branighan tries; Luke Branighan 2 goals) at Langlands Park.
BURLEIGH 24 d NORTH QUEENSLAND 22
BURLEIGH simply let the football do the talking on Saturday as the Bears maintained the slimmest of finals hopes with a come-from-behind 24-22 win against North Queensland at Pizzey Park.
A week after being sin-binned for dissent, Bears five-eighth Jamie Russo scored a freak try with two minutes left on the clock to level the scores 22-all. Fullback Reggie Cressbrook then potted the conversion under pressure, sending the Burleigh faithful into raptures.
The ending to the match could not have been more starkly opposed to the first 15 minutes, when listless Burleigh conceded three tries to trail the Young Guns 16-0.
Indeed the opening stages of the match suggested a bloodbath was on the cards, with North Queensland running rampant.and proving brutal in defence.
The visitors posted first points via winger Brenton Bowen, who capitalised on an effortless Brett Firman break to cross in the lefthand corner. Not long after, another Firman break and flick pass saw centre Jamie Frizzo crashing over on the other side of the field.
A Burleigh kick out on the full and an embarrassingly easy try to dummy-half Clint Amos had the Bears back-peddling even further. In many ways the Young Guns were unlucky not to lead by more when Sam Faust, Bowen and Dean Payne narrowly missed out on proceeding opportunities.
Almost from nothing, man-of-the-match Cressbrook conjured a try for Burleigh in the 35th minute, skipping past a hanging arm from Leigh Coghill and sending the ball wide for Trent Purdon to score.
It proved the spark for a remarkable comeback after the aggressive line speed of the Young Guns had all but sapped Burleigh?s attack of confidence.
On resumption of the second half a great intercept by Trent Leis almost laid the platform for a second try to Purdon. The very next play of the game Coghill was sin-binned for a professional foul and North Queensland was reduced to 12 men. Burleigh pivot Russo tried to explore the overlap several times and finally in the 48th minute found Aseri Laing out wide with a looping pass, shortening the score to 16-12.
The Young Guns then had another period when they were unlucky not to seal the game. In successive video referee decisions, centre Frizzo was ruled short of the tryline and Jimmy Andersen was adjudged offside from a Firman kick.
A shift in momentum was noticeable and the frustrated and distracted northerners then conceded a soft try to Ryan Gundry in the 65th minute. The subsequent conversion put Burleigh in front for the first time at 18-16.
The setbacks kept coming for the Young Guns, as Firman failed to find touch on a penalty and Ben Lowe was denied a try for a shepherding movement. However State of Origin hero Ty Williams looked to break the game open with a superb long-range try in the 74th minute, following good lead-up by backrower Mark Dalle Cort.
Against all odds Burleigh summoned up a try in response, with Russo following through his own high kick, before wrestling with defenders and smashing the ball down on the line. A wait on the video official?s decision and the goal-kick from Cressbrook kept the Bears momentarily on tenterhooks before jubilation at the fulltime siren.
BURLEIGH 24 (Jamie Russo, Trent Purdon, Aseri Laing, Ryan Gundry tries; Reggie Cressbrook 4 goals) d NORTH QUEENSLAND 22 (Brenton Bowen, Jamie Frizzo, Clint Amos, Ty Williams tries; Brenton Bowen 3 goals) at Pizzey Park.