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AN amazing six State of Origin players will contest rugby league?s Queensland Cup this weekend, as round two kicks off across the state.
Beginning with Saturday?s match of the round between Burleigh and North Queensland, nippy playmakers Matthew Bowen and Nathan Fien will both line up for the Young Guns.
That same afternoon on top of the Great Dividing Range, Toowoomba is set to field Maroon trio Ben Ikin, Carl Webb and Adrian Vowles as they take on arch rival Ipswich.
On Sunday, former Test and state utility Darren Smith throws his weight behind the Easts pack as they clash with Brothers-Valleys at Langlands Park.
Around the league a host of other NRL players and internationals - such as New Zealand?s Brian Jellick (Redcliffe) - will be present, as will familiar Queensland surnames such as Lockyer, Leis and Payne.
SATURDAY MARCH 20 Burleigh Bears v North Queensland Young Guns, 2.10pm, Pizzey Park Televised match of the round...Both teams enter the match winless, Burleigh having drawn their opening game to Wynnum, while NQ lost at the death to Central?The Young Guns have Matty Bowen, but are still without Brenton Bowen, known for terrorising the Bears in past seasons. There are three players from NQ returning to the Gold Coast ? Mark Dalle Cort, Dean Amos (Both past students at Palm Beach-Currumbin) and Jamie McDonald (Tweed junior)?Burleigh are without their 2003 Player of the Year Adam Cook (eye) and centre Adam Hutchinson (shoulder)?Former NQ favourite Reggie Creesbrook aka the ``Woorabinda Whiz?? named at centre for Burleigh.
Toowoomba Clydesdales v Ipswich Jets, 4pm, Stadium Toowoomba Another two teams looking for a win after Toowoomba were beaten on the buzzer against Tweed and Ipswich drew with Brothers-Valleys thanks to a completion rate of 25 per cent? The Bulimba Cup Memorial Trophy will go on the line, a link to the rich history of clashes between the two western cities?Ipswich comprehensively won both encounters last year?Ipswich?s Kyle Warren is ironically the last player still in the Queensland Cup from the Toowoomba premiership team of 1996?1996 was the first year the competition was held in current format.
Central Comets v Tweed Heads Seagulls, 7pm, Browne Park Upset merchants of the first round?Wade Rothery scored for Central in the last 30 seconds to beat North Queensland, while half Steve Packer slotted a conversion from the sideline to down Toowoomba on the hooter?Tweed has lost inspirational prop Matt Ross (hand), leaving Matt Chadburn to start and Reece Vincent and James Woods to move onto a five-man bench?Tweed CEO Peter Donkin has left the club for a fortnight to compete in Ecuador with the Surf Australia team?Comets captain Stu Cheffirs not named, despite predicted return from injury?First Queensland Cup game t revamped Browne Park, Rockhampton.
SUNDAY MARCH 21 Redcliffe Dolphins v Wynnum Seagulls, 3pm, Dolphin Oval Can Wynnum amend their poor history at Dolphin Oval?...The Seagulls lost 46-18 on the peninsula last year and were beaten by Redcliffe in all three match-ups during 2003? Fullback Jimmy Ahmat has been a shining light for the Seagulls thus far, much like David Seage was before he left to join Newcastle. Of course Seage starred for the Knights in his NRL debut last Friday?Redcliffe coach Neil Wharton has named an unchanged team to that which beat Norths 34-22 last week?Shane Perry kicked two field goals against the Devils.
Easts Tigers v Brothers-Valleys, 3pm, Langlands Park After finishing ninth in a 12 team race last year, Easts are early leaders of the 2004 competition?Their 14-point win over Souths-Logan was the biggest margin in an exciting first round of the Queensland Cup?This match has been relocated from O?Callaghan Park due to unsuitability of the ground, meaning the Tigers start the year with three home games?At this point in time Brothers-Valleys are the only team undefeated in the history of the Queensland Cup?They have one appearance for one draw?Their first home game will hopefully come against another merged team, Souths-Logan, on April 4 pending changes to their Zillmere field.
Souths-Logan Magpies v Norths Devils, 3pm, Davies Park Positioned last and second-last after the first round, the two historic clubs will look to open their 2004 accounts on the banks of the Brisbane River?Josh Dillon in as starting prop for Souths-Logan after losing Zeb Dewson to a dislocated knee (4-6 weeks), while Paul Peterson comes onto the bench?Norths had three players named Turner in their team against Redcliffe last week, Glen, Marty and Steve?Steve and Glen Turner have been named on a six-man bench for Melbourne along with Queensland Cup mainstay Nathan Friend?Giant Storm hopeful Sione Finefeuiaki has been named in Norths? second-string team.