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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REDCLIFFE DOLPHINS v NORTH QUEENSLAND YOUNG GUNS Dolphin Oval, Saturday 2pm, July 9.
Brett Firman will go straight under the microscope for his first game in North Queensland colours, appearing in this week?s ABC televised match against Redcliffe.
Returning from a thumb injury, 23-year-old Firman finds himself on the bench behind Queensland Country half Brent McConnell, scorer of two tries last week against Souths Logan. For the former Sydney Roosters, St George Illawarra and Cronulla player it will be his first game in Brisbane this season.
Redcliffe has been somewhat reserved in naming its team, excluding Queensland Residents players Ryan Cullen, Jamie Russo and Shane Perry despite them more than likely being available.
Oddly enough Mount Isa-born Cullen was selected for New South Wales Under 19s in 2001, while Firman was overlooked for the honour.
This weekend?s match holds importance for both clubs. Redcliffe will leapfrog Norths into third with a win, while the Young Guns could assume first spot if Burleigh loses to Tweed.
Injury to Reggie Cressbrook means Redcliffe?s Greg Bourke is back in with a chance of beating him to the all-time Queensland Cup record for points scored. Bourke needs 138 points to equal ex-Dolphin Damien Richters? mark of 1030, but needs just eight points to become the third player in the history of the competition to reach 900 points.
Rob Alexander has being given the referee?s duties for the big match at Dolphin Oval.
REDCLIFFE: Liam Georgetown, Phil Shilvock, Greg Bourke, Nick Emmett, Matt Gruszka, Daniel Green, Wayne Bond, Adam Starr, Mick Roberts, Troy Lindsay ?, Matt Mapes, Danny Burke, Grant Flugge. Interchange: Nick Walker, Shannon Fish, Duane O?Grady, Damien Jentz.
NORTH QUEENSLAND: Jason Barsley, Neil Sweeney, David Myles, Dean Payne, Drew Campbell, Shane Muspratt, Brent McConnell, Ben Lowe, Leigh McWilliams, Jaiman Lowe, Mark Dalle Cort, Daniel Strickland ?. Interchange: Brett Firman, Clint Amos, Scott Bolton, Gavin Cooper, Charles Vis. ___________________________________________
EASTS TIGERS v CENTRAL COMETS Langlands Park, Saturday 3pm, July 9.
With the Tigers? season resting on a knife-edge his replacement in the number six jersey is Matt Lockyer. Put bluntly, Easts has the toughest assignment of all finals contenders, three points out of the five and with one less game in hand than Toowoomba, Tweed Heads and Wynnum.
In a further sign it is crunch time, Easts has recalled halfback Aaron Lewis from the wilderness. The former Queensland underage captain and Sydney Roosters player has been in and out of State League the past two seasons.
Lewis was once winner of the Peter Sterling Medal as the best player in the national schoolboy competition and made his Queensland Cup debut while still at high school.
One of his former teammates at the Logan City Scorpions was Clint Rothery, now a veteran of the Central Comets team.
Central will go into this match celebrating 200 games in the Queensland Cup. One of the founding clubs of the competition, the team formerly known as the Capras has 65 wins, nine draws and 125 losses thus far.
In judiciary news, Comets forward Andrew Dale will escape suspension for a grade one dangerous throw should he enter an early guilty plea, attracting 93 demerits.
Justin Eastwood will hold the whistle for the afternoon game at Langlands Park.
EASTS: Michael Pearce, Steve Beattie, Nigel Roy, Nathan Forde, Walter Imo, Matt Lockyer, Aaron Lewis, Dallas Hood ?, Rowan Graham, Leigh Coghill, Matt Elley, Marty Allen, Mark Cantoni. Interchange: Scott Alo, Trevor Exton, Brandon Costin, Steve Goodhew.
CENTRAL: Mark Henry ?, James Radloff, Matt Hill, Mitch Wyatte, Clint Rothery, Adam Geddes, Aoterangi Herangi, Kurt Cawdron, Herewini Rangi, Fili Sofa, Todd Brandon, Andrew Dale, Tyron Haynes. Interchange: Toby Wallace, John Bidgood, Mick Esdale, TBA. ___________________________________________
SOUTHS LOGAN MAGPIES v IPSWICH JETS Brandon Park, Saturday 3pm, July 9.
Souths Logan will acknowledge its grassroots this weekend when it takes the clash against Ipswich to the ground of Souths Juniors at Acacia Ridge.
Both Stan Fau and Tee Levu are fully-fledged products of the Mortimer Rd club, while Craig Chapman and Grant Lewis are Logan Juniors. Eddie Dodd, Jacob Christie, Darren Glase, Daniel Joyce and Marvin Alo all played colts for Souths Logan.
One player figuring for the Magpies this weekend that isn?t a local junior, but carries an interesting story nonetheless is lock Jerry Ahern.
Formerly of the Augathella Meat Ants, Ahern scored a double on the wing in his Queensland Cup debut for Wests in 2003. Legend has it that while growing up, Ahern?s father advised him to regularly run long distances in horse-riding boots to ?toughen up?.
One player who won?t have his toughness in question is Ipswich captain Danny Coburn, who recently passed Graham Cotter and Brian McCarthy to become the fifth-most capped player in Queensland Cup history. With 161 games he trails Troy Lindsay, Brett McPherson, Shane O?Flanagan and teammate Brendon Lindsay.
Jets coach Trevor Gillmeister recently said he was flabbergasted Coburn didn?t make this year?s Country side, calling him the best lock in the State League.
Just past the halfway point in the season only four players have appeared in all of Ipswich?s matches ? Coburn, Lindsay, Shannon Cameron and Luke Walker. Matt McPhee had his run broken last week by a neck injury.
Michael Wise will control the match between the two proud clubs.
SOUTHS LOGAN: Eddie Dodd, Jacob Christie, Bob Blair, Tanu Wulf, Craig Chapman, Nathaniel Bowman, Cameron Joyce, Stan Fau, Scott Smith, Ashley Lanfranchi, Darren Glase ?, Matt Bell, Jerry Ahern. Interchange: Grant Lewis, Tee Levu, Daniel Joyce, Adrian Maloney.
IPSWICH: Luke Walker, Steven West, Andy Poynter, Jonathon Muir, Aaron Davey, Brendon Lindsay, Ricky Bird, Grant Young, Jamie Tomlinson, Mat Cameron, Steele Retchless, Geoff Chalk, Danny Coburn ?. Interchange: Bevan Heuir, Walter Mackie, Shannon Cameron, Cody Fullarton. ___________________________________________
TOOWOOMBA CLYDESDAYLES v WYNNUM SEAGULLS Clive Berghofer Stadium, Saturday 4.45pm, July 9.
The wrestle for fifth spot goes to high altitude this week when two of the most physical teams in the competition stand toe-to-toe.
Fresh from a rugged hit-out against Redcliffe, Wynnum travels to Toowoomba to take on a Clydesdales side boosted by the Brisbane Broncos having the bye this week.
Coinciding with the Big Brother eviction of his spitting image, winger Steve ?Shearer? Michaels will return from several weeks with the Broncos keen to build on his try-scoring tally. Michaels has 10 tries in the Wizard Cup this year and two more in the NRL.
Backrower Nick Kenny comes back after making his debut for the Broncos, while Joe Clarke has been selected on the bench following a battle with ankle injuries.
An intriguing battle looms up front between a former Origin hardman in Craig Greenhill and a strong prospect for the future in Sam Thaiday. Opposing backrowers Neville Costigan and John Bruce are not known for taking a backward step either.
Both clubs will be happy to have their Queensland Residents back, namely Damien Quinn and Jim Ahmat for Wynnum and Tom Learoyd-Lahrs for Toowoomba.
A combined total of 20 players with National Rugby League experience will be on display in match that will decide fifth place this week, provided Tweed Heads also loses to Burleigh.
Clayton Sharpe will control the match at Clive Berghofer Stadium.
TOOWOOMBA: Nick Parfitt, Steve Michaels, Greg Eastwood, Michael Bond, Tony Duggan, Stuart Kelly, Berrick Barnes, Sam Thaiday, Michael Ryan, Anthony Seibold, Nick Kenny, Neville Costigan, Neale Wyatt. Interchange: Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, Ian Lacey, Joe Clarke, Tame Tupou.
WYNNUM: Daniel Sorbello, Simon Phillips, Jimmy Ahmat, Damien Quinn, Michael Rose, Nathan Murphy, Jace Van Dijk ?, Danny McAllister, Royce Simms, Craig Greenhill, Gary Winter, Gareth Turton, John Bruce. Interchange: Peter Penaia, Clayton Maher, Darren Bain, Brett McPherson. ___________________________________________
Burleigh is aiming to attract a record crowd for the local derby against the Seagulls and has announced free entry for all.
Still leading the competition, but coming off successive losses, the Bears will be hoping for better fortunes with the return of their Queensland Residents contingent.
Along with coach Rick Stone, those coming back from representative duties will be star players Ali Brown, Adam Hayden, Balin Cupples, Martin Griese and Trent Purdon. Ryan Gundry and Nick Shaw also slide in after recovering from injury.
Regardless of the influx fullback Phil Ramage will keep his spot, courtesy of an injury to Reggie Cressbrook and a fine individual performance against Ipswich last week.
Tweed has named centre David Strachan despite him suffering a knee injury against Easts last week. However Jay Hampson is definitely out after a suspected broken wrist was confirmed.
Again this match could have wider ramifications on competition standings. Tweed could grab fifth place with a win and allow North Queensland to jump over Burleigh for first place.
Burleigh winger Trent Purdon needs just one try to draw level with Greg Inglis as the most potent player in the Cup this season, while Adam Hayden and Trent Leis are a further two in arrears.
Brett Suttor will referee one of the most anticipated clashes of the season.
BURLEIGH: Phil Ramage, 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.
TWEED HEADS: Ryan O?Connell, Nat Barnes, David Strachan, James Wood, Nathan Small, Brad Davis, Tim Maccan, Tom Prichard, Matt King, Eddie Harrison, Selasi Berdie, Andrew Moroney ?, Ben Hill. Interchange: Jeff Moate, Ben Quinlan, Cory Bond, Josh Vaughan, Damien Moar (one to be omitted). ___________________________________________ Norths Devils have the bye. ___________________________________________