By John Devine – QRL Media
The Redcliffe Dolphins await the winner of this Saturday afternoon’s In Safe Hands Cup preliminary final between the BMD Wynnum Manly Seagulls and the Wests Brisbane Panthers.
The last time these two clubs played was in Round 16 and on that day, the Seagulls were too strong from the Panthers winning 40-8. However, the Panthers had won the previous three meetings (Round 1, Round 6 and Round 11).
To make their way to the preliminary final; Seagulls held on to progress through their elimination final against Easts, but while the Panthers outscored the Dolphins in the second half, they were unable to go straight through to the grand final after falling victim to a late Tony Tumusa double.
Seagulls coach Ron Troutman’s flock were outstanding last week against the Tigers. Despite fan favourite Peter Gubb being sent to the sin bin just before half time, the Seagulls put three tries on while Gubb watched the clock.
Troutman was relieved that no further action during the week will be taken against Gubb, meaning he is free to play in the important match.
The Seagulls have named an extended bench as he awaits fitness tests on Corey Davis (concussion) and Semisi Ahoafi (hamstring).
Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard was praised by his coach during the week and the big backrower will be looking to take the rest of the pack up the middle while Jacob Paulo and Josh Hoffman have been in damaging form of late and will test the Panthers defence.
The Seagulls have not played a grand final since 2015 while the Panthers have played in the last two preliminary finals, but have yet to get to the big show.
The Panthers have reshuffled their squad with the talented Mikaere Beattie returning to pair up with Zach Strasser in the halves, moving Kyle Van Klaveren back to fullback.
The big unit Josh Afoa has been named to start in the front row with the metre-eater Michael Molo and the unpredictable Adam Harris at hooker.
Drae Aiono drops to a bench that will need extra support with Simona Vavega and the return of Henry Togiasua putting pressure on the lanks.
Panthers coach Wayne Weekes also has the elusive Gavin Causer to let off the leash as the opposition pack begins to tire.
Panthers v Seagulls – WJ Scott Park, Saturday, September 8 at 3.15pm
Watch the live stream by clicking this link
BMD Wynnum Manly Seagulls
1. Matthew Milson 2. Peter Gubb 3. Harlan Collins 4. Tumoana Halkyard 5. Jack Goodsell 6. John Te Reo 7. Mitchell Moore 8. Ngarima Pita 9. Kalolo Saitaua 10. Billy Solah 11. Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard 12. Semisi Ahoafi 13. Joshua Hoffman 14. Corey Davis 15. Jacob Paulo 16. Bradley Mana 17. Kelly Tate 18. Jaz Nahu-Main 19. Adrian Elder (two to be omitted)
Coach: Ron Troutman
West Brisbane Panthers
1. Kyle Van Klaveren 2. Namila Davui 3. Kennedy Pettyborne 4. Sam Collins 5. James Olds 6. Mikaere Beattie 7. Zach Strasser 8. Michael Molo 9. Adam Harris 10. Josh Afoa 11. Troy Swift 12. Billy Rogers 13. Dominic Biondi 16. Henry Togiasua 17. Gavin Causer 18. Simona Vavega 19. Drae Aiono
Coach: Wayne Weekes
* John Devine is a QRL correspondent covering the BRL A Grade competition