Rivals Seagulls and Dolphins to dig deep to stay in the race

By Jorja Brinums (QRL Media)

Long-time rivals Wynnum Manly Seagulls and Redcliffe Dolphins will fight to remain in the race to the Intrust Super Cup grand final on Sunday.

Wynnum finished third but lost to Burleigh Bears by only two points during the first week of finals and must step up to keep in the running.

The Dolphins finished sixth on the ladder but beat Tweed Seagulls last week, thanks to a Tyson Gamble field goal in the dying moments of the game, to earn their spot in the clash.

The two sides have faced off twice this season; Wynnum won the first clash 18-10 and Dolphins won the second 32-20.

Wynnum CEO Hanan Laban said for Wynnum, it was “the most important game for the club in almost five years and our entire community is buzzing”.

“A ‘do or die’ elimination final just takes one of the biggest and oldest rivalries in rugby league to another level,” Laban said.

“There have been many epic matches between us and I have no doubt that the Gulls will be up for this one  – the Chook Pen will be rocking!”

Wynnum skipper Mitch Cronin, who is a gun, said everyone was excited for Sunday’s game.

“It’s two of the biggest rivals in Intrust Super Cup going head-to-head, so there should be a big crowd and entertaining game,” Cronin said.

“Last week we started too slow and let the game get away from us, so we’ll be looking to fix that and make sure we start well.

“We still have the belief that we can go all the way… we just need to get ourselves right and make sure we’re at our best starting this Sunday.”

Dolphins football operations general manager Grant Cleal said the game at BMD Kougari Oval, in front of what is sure to be a boisterous Chook Pen, was sure to be a cracker.

“(The rivalry) is something that’s always there without talking about it,” Cleal said.

“The big overriding factor this week for both sides is the fact it could be the last game of the year and no one wants that.”

Redcliffe, the reigning premiers, experienced a tough start to the season, winning only three of their first 10 games. But Gamble re-joined the club before June 30 and helped turn their season around.

“Tyson Gamble has been a really big inclusion for us,” Cleal said.

“Tyson was a local junior here – he came through our development programs, so he wasn’t a stranger to the club, and that stigma of the other players thinking ‘who is this bloke coming in before June 30?’ – he didn’t have that. He was well known around the place before he came back.

“He’s added a lot of confidence to our squad and a lot of physical attributes go along with him as well – he’s got a really good kicking game and he’s a good organiser on the field as well. He’s been the main reason for our turn around.

“You’ve got to hand it to the rest of the players as well after the start they had. And the coaching staff, to keep working hard.”

Cleal said the team would dig deep for fan favourite and all-round nice guy Aaron Whitchurch, who will retire from the game at the end of this season.

“He’s the ultimate professional. He’s been studying a mathematics degree since he left school and he’s got two young daughters – a great little family,” Cleal said.

“In the time it takes to compete in this competition, I can’t imagine how he’s done it. The work load that has been involved for him over the last four of five years in particular, since he’s been doing uni – I can’t believe he’s still doing it.

“He finishes university at the end of this year, so he’s got to go and find a job. Then the workload goes up again for him, so something had to give at some point and it’s footy. That’s how it should be. He’s got to look after his family and his career. It’s a shame. He’s a big loss.

Cleal said he had no doubt Wynnum would also come out firing.

“We’re all in it to win it. Someone will miss out this weekend and it’ll be disappointing for that team. If that’s us, we’ll be heartbroken, so we want to make sure we do as much as we can to make sure we’re not heartbroken and we’re going on,” Cleal said.

“All the teams and all the clubs in our competition work really hard.

“Aaron Whitchurch is a really small cross section of the type of person that plays our game at this level. All working full time, all got families, and to some degree they’re probably working harder than NRL players. They’ve got more to juggle.

“This time of year is a really good reward for those guys. It’ll be a huge reward for a couple of teams to get to grand final day and we’re hoping we’re one of them.”

Burleigh win nail-biter against Wynnum Manly

By Kevin Braysher (QRL Media)

The Burleigh Bears won a classic Intrust Super Cup semi-final, 34-32, over the Wynnum Manly Seagulls at BMD Kougari Oval today.

In front of a packed house on a perfect Sunday afternoon, the Bears raced to a 22-6 lead and were forced to hold off the Seagulls who came back hard in the second half.

The Bears will now advance to a home preliminary final in two weeks, while Wynnum Manly will host an elimination blockbuster against Redcliffe next week.

Bears coach Jimmy Lenihan was extremely proud post game and praised his side’s ball control throughout a high-scoring game.

“It was one of those games where if you held the ball for big patches it was always going to be hard to hold out the other side,” Lenihan said.

“We still completed nine from nine in that second half, there were just big chunks of possession going against us. It was a high-scoring game, which is unusual for a final, so for us to hold on and defend our way through that was pleasing.

“For big parts of the year you play to hopefully stick to a process, but this time of year it’s all about a win or a loss and however we win or lose is the most important part now.

A large Wynnum crowd turned out to catch a glimpse of finals footy on the Bayside

“We’ll have a week off and then have another tough game and then hopefully one more tough game after that, so there is still a long way to go.”

Will Evans, playing his second Intrust Super Cup game, opened the scoring after some excellent lead up from Sami Sauiluma.

In the 11th minute the Bears extended their lead to 10-0 when Dylan Phythian ran the ball on the last tackle. He created some space for Kurtis Rowe who offloaded to Sauiluma to score the afternoon’s second try.

Wynnum hit back in the 16th minute, after Edene Gebbie took advantage of some broken play on the right side of the field, slicing through to score.

The home side were on the attack again four minutes later, but Anthony Don swooped in for an intercept and ran 90 metres to score for the Bears.

The Bears were riding a wave of early momentum and a try for Pat Politoni out of dummy half gave them a handy 16-point lead, before the Seagulls scored an important try right on halftime.

Mitch Cronin produced some lovely sleight of hand out of dummy half and put Max Elliot over, cutting the margin to just ten points at halftime.

The Seagulls came out fired up in the second half allowing plenty of room for Sam Scarlett to start taking control of the contest.

A Jayden Berrell try in the 45th minute was followed up by a try for Pat Templemen, bringing the scores level at 22-22 with 30 minutes left to play.

Burleigh were back in the lead in the 56th minute, when Josh Rogers put Matt Robinson through a hole then backed up to score under the posts.

Gebbie, who was electric throughout the contest, got early ball in the 62nd minute and stood up the Burleigh defence as he crossed for his second try to bring Wynnum within two points.

The crucial play came in the 69th minute, when Jamal Fogarty went to the line on the last tackle. He turned the ball inside for a charging Api Noema-Matenga who powered his way to the try line giving Burleigh an eight-point lead.

Scarlett would set up a try for Kalolo Saitaua in the 79th minute, but it wouldn’t be enough as the Bears secured a two-point win and a home preliminary final.

Earlier in the day Wynnum defeated Burleigh in a gripping Hastings Deering Colts final, 24-19.