EASTS TIGERS v IPSWICH JETS Langlands Park, Saturday 2pm, June 18.
Grand finalists in recent seasons, both Easts and Ipswich have discovered the drawbacks of losing close battles this year.
The Tigers are eighth following their 22-16 defeat by North Queensland last week. Steve Beattie and Matt Lockyer both failed to grasp chances in the final moments, fumbling with the line open.
Similarly Ipswich has figured in seven matches this season decided by six points or less. Unfortunately for the ninth-placed Jets, their last two appearances have been a touch more brutal, losing 40-16 to Toowoomba and 40-14 against Norths.
Easts would have been buoyed after three players ? Lockyer, Leigh Coghill and Brandon Costin ? were named in the City side to meet Country at Kougari Oval on June 25. No Jets were selected to star in the annual showpiece.
Costin is just eight points away from another accomplishment, 100 points for the season.
Ipswich hooker Adam Boettcher could be facing several weeks on the sideline after being charged with a grade two dangerous throw. Already boasting 75 carry-over points for a previous offence, Boettcher will be out for three weeks with an early guilty plea and four if he contests and is subsequently found in the wrong.
Easts hasn?t named Darren Smith, although if things go accordingly for the Brisbane Broncos, the veteran lock may be free to play Wizard Cup. Meanwhile, for the second week in a row Ipswich has kept prop Grant Young on the sidelines, recuperating from a number of niggling ailments.
Brett Suttor will officiate in the televised match.
EASTS: Matt Lockyer, Steve Beattie, Nigel Roy, Rob Maller, Walter Imo, Brandon Costin ?, Jason Connors, Dallas Hood, Steve Goodhew, Leigh Coghill, Scott Sipple, Marty Allen, Mark Cantoni. Interchange: Ben Bourke, Trevor Exton, Phil Dennis, Scott Young.
IPSWICH: Andy Poynter, Steve West, Geoff Chalk, Jonathon Muir, Luke Walker, Brendon Lindsay, Ricky Bird, Walter Mackie, Adam Boettcher, Mat Cameron, Steele Retchless, Matt McPhee, Danny Coburn ?. Interchange: Bevan Heuir, Aaron Davey, Shannon Cameron, Cody Fullarton. ____________________________________________
TOOWOOMBA CLYDESDALES v CENTRAL COMETS Clive Berghofer Stadium, Saturday 4.45pm, June 18.
Less than a year after exploding onto the NRL scene with the Brisbane Broncos, Tame Tupou may be remodeled via the interchange for Toowoomba.
Signs suggest the giant winger could be converted to a bench forward at least for this week. Tupou switched to the pack after 25 minutes against Tweed Heads last week and appeared to be more effective around the ruck than on kick returns.
Despite benefiting from the returns of Stuart Kelly, Berrick Barnes, Steve Michaels and Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, Clydesdales coach John Dixon has called upon local forwards Darren Ingram and Eugene Seddon. Ingram (Gatton) and Seddon (Pittsworth) were members of the South West Mustangs side which last week took out the QRL Divisional Championship for the third straight year. Seddon consequently won a place in the Queensland Rangers team.
One player missing for an extended period will be utility Ben Vaeau, who cracked his kneecap trying to execute a monster tackle from the second half kick-off against Tweed.
Fresh from the bye, Central returns amid much interest surrounding the applicants for next year?s Comets head coaching role. With Neale Crow stepping aside, a full-time position has been created, attracting applications from a European Super League coach and a coach associated with an NRL premiership-winning side.
Comets chief executive Jamie Boon says former State of Origin hardman Jason Hetherington is yet to apply, despite his stated interest in local media. Cut-off for official applications is June 27.
Referee for the Toowoomba v Central battle will be Clayton Sharpe.
TOOWOOMBA: Nick Parfitt, Steve Michaels, Greg Eastwood, Michael Bond, Tony Duggan, Stuart Kelly, Berrick Barnes, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, Michael Ryan, Anthony Seibold ?, Nick Kenny, Darren Ingram, Neale Wyatt. Interchange: Tame Tupou, Aaron Barba, Eugene Seddon, Issak Ah Mau.
CENTRAL: Mark Henry ?, James Radloff, Matt Hill, Dallas Williams, Clint Rothery, Mitch Wyatte, Aoterangi Herangi, Kurt Cawdron, Jade Wogand, Grant Broadhurst, Todd Brandon, Herewini Rangi, Tyron Haynes. Interchange: Fili Sofa, Toby Wallace, Andrew Dale, Mick Esdale. ____________________________________________
BURLEIGH BEARS v NORTH QLD YOUNG GUNS Pizzey Park, Satuday 6.30pm, June 18.
North Queensland has given competition leader Burleigh a promotional dream and a tactical nightmare at the same time, naming State of Origin players Travis Norton and Josh Hannay in a five-star line-up.
While Bears forwards Ali Brown and Shane O?Flanagan must beat the judiciary, the Young Guns will field 12 NRL players in their starting 13 at Pizzey Park. Returning from injury, Norton is at lock and Hannay is at centre, while usual captain Daniel Strickland has been relegated to the bench. Rob Alexander has the whistle for the big match.
The clash will be seen by Burleigh as a chance to test itself after winning 21 of its last 23 matches, while leading this year?s competition by five points. At present North Queensland is ranked second and is the only team this season to have beaten the Bears.
Keen followers of the State League will remember that North Queensland also used the NRL bye to their advantage against Burleigh last year. In Round Two, 2004, the Young Guns fielded Matt Bowen, Nathan Fien, Aaron Payne, Shane Tronc and Rod Jensen.
So strong was the squad on that day that the final interchange spot went to Steve Southern, who impressed in a 34-24 win ? the largest defeat handed to Burleigh in their premiership campaign. This season neither the Bears nor Young Guns have been beaten on home soil. Together they provide 13 of the 17 players in the XXXX Country team.
Described as a ?youngster? and ?unknown? in various reports last week, 27-year-old Young Guns fullback Jason Barsley is in his sixth season of the Queensland Cup. He has scored 52 tries in 90 appearances and represented Queensland Residents. Player of the Year for grand finalists Easts in 2004, he also represented Country in his rookie year for Cairns, despite the club running dead last.
BURLEIGH: Reggie Cressbrook, Trent Purdon, Balin Cupples, Trent Leis, Aseri Laing, Adam Hayden, David Hicks, Ali Brown ?, Ryan Gundry, Shane O?Flanagan, Martin Griese, Adam Hutchinson, Adrian Vowles. Interchange: James Griffiths, Scott Cooke, Nick Shaw, Robert Apanui.
NORTH QUEENSLAND: Jason Barsley, Neil Sweeney, David Myles, Josh Hannay, Dean Payne, Shane Muspratt, Chris Sheppard, Jaiman Lowe, Leigh McWilliams, Mitchell Sargent, Micheal Luck, Jacob Lillyman, Travis Norton. Interchange: Scott Bolton, Daniel Strickland, Mark Dalle Cort, Matthew Scott. ____________________________________________
SOUTHS LOGAN v REDCLIFFE DOLPHINS Davies Park, Sunday 3pm, June 19.
Souths Logan may be without strike weapon Bob Blair after the three-quarter was given a grade one striking charge from last week?s match against Wynnum.
Named for City earlier this week, Blair already has 93 carry-over points and will attract 75 more with an early guilty plea. Being proven guilty will tack on 25 extra points.
Fellow Magpie Cameron Joyce has also run afoul of the judiciary after being sin binned for tripping against the Seagulls. However, the young half will incur less than 100 demerit points for his alleged wrongdoing and therefore avoid suspension.
Redcliffe is licking its wounds after its worst defeat in Queensland Cup history ? a 56-6 pasting by Burleigh last Sunday at Dolphin Oval. The loss has given the red-and-whites a negative points differential, although they still occupy fifth on the ladder.
Redcliffe players selected for City are Ryan Cullen, Jamie Russo and Shane Perry. Aside from Blair, Souths Logan?s other representative will be hooker Scott Smith.
In 16 games between Redcliffe and the Magpies since 1996, the Dolphins have won 15. Redcliffe is of course coached this season by Anthony Griffin, formerly of the Magpies.
After beating Norths in its last home game, South Logan has experienced two convincing losses to Burleigh and Wynnum. Forwards Matt Bell and Stan Fau impressed against the Seagulls however and face a good test of ability against the strong Dolphins pack.
Redcliffe centre Greg Bourke is just one conversion away from 100 points this season. Michael Wise will be the referee for Sunday?s match at Davies Park.
SOUTHS LOGAN: Craig Chapman, Nathaniel Bowman, Bob Blair, Grant Lewis, Matt Templeman, Cameron Joyce, Nathan Roe, Stan Fau, Scott Smith, Ashley Lanfranchi, Darren Glase ?, Matt Bell, Graham Levu. Interchange: Eddie Dodd, Marvin Alo, Tanu Wulf, Adrian Maloney.
REDCLIFFE: Ryan Cullen, Phil Shilvock, Greg Bourke, Jamie Russo, Chris Giumelli, Shane Perry ?, Michael Roberts, Adam Starr, Shannon Fish, Nick Walker, Matt Mapes, Danny Burke, Grant Flugge. Interchange: Matt Anderton, Danny Green, Duane O?Grady, Damien Jentz. ____________________________________________
NORTHS DEVILS v TWEED HEADS SEAGULLS Bishop Park, Sunday 3pm, June 19.
Having ended the club?s three-match losing streak, Norths coach Wayne Treleaven has left little doubt about where he sees the Devils figuring come late August.
While a major focus for Norths, Toowoomba and North Queensland is developing players for their NRL affiliates, Treleaven has rubbished the notion that they don?t care about making the finals.
?Norths is a very proud club in its own right,? Treleaven said.
?As much as Norths prepares Melbourne Storm players for the NRL, it has a lot of history and its own identity. The people here want to win too.?
At present the Devils are third on the table, while this week?s opponent Tweed Heads is equal sixth.
Seagulls prop Tom Prichard clinched a welcome spot on the interchange for Country with a non-stop display against Toowoomba, compensating for the missed opportunity of injured skipper Andrew Moroney.
Meanwhile five Norths forwards have made the City squad after their win over Ipswich, along with Devils centre Josh Graham.
Michael Inman has been called upon to referee the battle between the two finals hopefuls at Bishop Park.
NORTHS: Quentin Laulu-Togagae, Josh Tatupu, Aaron Morgan, Ryan Shortland, Chad Leach, Marc Brentnall, Luke Millwood, Pat Gardner, Nathan Friend, Scott Anderson, Aaron Bulow, Jeremy Smith, Anthony Boyd ?. Interchange: Jeremiah Pai, Rob Tanielu, Adam Blair, Peter Robinson.
TWEED HEADS: Ryan O?Connell, Nat Barnes, David Strachan, James Wood, Nathan Small, Brad Davis, Tim Maccan, Tom Prichard, Matt King ?, Eddie Harrison, Ben Quinlan, Selasi Berdie, Ben Hill. Interchange: Jeff Moate, Jay Hampson, Josh Vaughan, Cory Bond ____________________________________________
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