Meninga/Connell Cups: Best players, premiers tip
The Tweed Seagulls yesterday assumed favouritism for the Meninga Cup according to a coach who should know - Souths Logan Magpies mentor Billy Vine.
In a round which saw Tweed, the Wynnum Manly Seagulls, Townsville Blackhawks and Central Capras close in on a finals' berth, Tweed emerged as competition favourites in the eyes of Vine who watched them inflict a 38-14 loss on his side.
"I think it will be very difficult for someone to beat them,'' Vine said. "They are good all over the park.''
With halfback Tom Weaver and dummy half Oskar Bryant pulling the strings, Tweed emerged from an even start to blast three tries in six minutes before halftime, and another three in 14 minutes into the second half.
Still, coach Tim Maccan wants perfection around ruck defence while praising his defensive line.
"We are still working on ruck defence,'' he said, weary that Burleigh Heads will be eager to finish the season on a high in the local derby next weekend.
Maccan said centres Kaleb Ngamanu and Deine Mariner were outstanding in attack and defence, while Brock Priestly played strongly in his first game in the second row.
Vine said Tweed's fast brand of football caused even more problems because "we made too many errors to compete and gave away too many penalties''.
"When it got into a grind we looked good, but did not sustain it,'' he said.
Vine said his No. 13 Chris Faagutu was rock solid while halfback Ezra Mam was tenacious in defence.
At Burleigh Heads, the home side inflicted a 44-36 loss on the Ipswich Jets in a high scoring affair.
Ipswich started like a house on fire with tries to Noah Lewis, Zachery Alley, Ethan Tronc and Alley again to lead 20-nil.
But when the Bears got into their groove, the Jets could not halt the momentum.
Burleigh got the score back to 20-18 by halftime and went on with the job, with Hunter Ploegsma scoring a double either side of Tuvalli Pereira and Caleb Gould-Waiariki scoring.
Bears coach Michael Witt said dummy half Gould-Waiariki and his front rower Vaa Semu were best for his side in a match which saw "very little defence but plenty of attack from both sides''.
Ipswich coach Michael Armstrong said it remained a goal for his side to complete a match.
"We have gone toe-to-toe and could have beaten everyone, but we won't do that until we have a complete performance. We have to put a whole game together,'' Armstrong said.
Armstrong said his best player was second rower Jed Bignell.
The Central Queensland Capras moved closer to a semi-final position with a 54-10 win over Mustangs.
Capras coach Kane Hardy said his team adapted well to having five players out.
Asked what impressed him most, Hardy said: "Our start, our completions and patience. It all came together which is something we have been working on.''
Hardy said "Coby Williamson by a mile'' was Capras best, while middle forwards Tyler Keogh-Paladin, Tom Powell and Tane Kiriona shone brightest.
Williamson scored a hat trick of tries while Kalani Sing was again on the score sheet, finishing with another two tries. Peyton Jenkins also had a day out with two tries and seven conversions.
Mustangs coach Brendan Wilson said Tyson Stevens was his best player on the day.
There was another try festival at Bishop Park where Norths and Brisbane Tigers played out a 32-all draw.
The scene was set early when Tigers Tea-Rani Woodman Tuhoro crossed after just two minutes while Tyrell Waaka Rhind returned serve for Norths six minutes later.
Norths finished the try shoot out better, scoring the last three of the match to snatch the draw, with Isaiah Longi scoring twice for the Devils.
Easts coach Isaac Kauufman praised his goalkicking halfback Zac Lamont while front Jackson Barling also raised eyebrows with an excellent performance.
Norths coach Kevin Neighbour said it was a "typical under 18s game'' in the way both teams traded tries and in the end his side snuck a draw against a Tigers outfit which "had a good dig''.
Neighbour said the best for the Devils were middle forward Damascus Neemia, centre Iongi and Darcy Turner who started in the backrow but who had to finish the match in the centres.
At Dolphin Oval, Wynnum Manly remained unbeaten courtesy of a 28-18 win over Redcliffe.
The Seagulls started strongly to post tries in the fifth (Ryan Jackson), 10th (Blake Moore) and 14th minutes (Kienan Tempest), while Luke Philp added another in the 23rd minute.
But Redcliffe rallied before a home crowd with Iselin-Jansen, Caleb Pfingst and Jonathan Maller raising the pulse rate of Seagulls coaching staff.
"We were very slow to get started and leaked a few early tries,'' said Redcliffe coach Wade Hadley.
"We said a few different things at halftime and came out and worked our way back into the game to get to 22-18 with some really good team efforts.
"We had them on the ropes but made some incorrect decisions and poor errors and let them off the hook.''
In the end a try in the 61st minute to Haizyn Mellars put the game to rest - but not by much.
Wynnum assistant coach Blake Trace said the hard working Tempest, dummy half Shaun Packer and fullback Jayden Elder were given 3-2-1 points.
Tempest is a coaches' dream who works hard and mops up and does a lot of dirty work while the slender Elder has been a revelation at the back for Wynnum with his fleet-a-foot attack and positional play in retrieving kicks.
Dolphins coach Wade Hadley said his prop Tuhirangi Ratana, captain Braith Major and Matthew Bennett were his best.
Meanwhile, the Sunhshine Coast had a resounding 76-nil win over Wide Bay in Kingaroy, with Ryan Hargreaves scoring five tries while Harry Dwyer bagged two early for the Falcons.
Elliot Smethills kicked seven goals and also scored a try.
Jack Underhill, Hargreaves and Kahn Sutherland-Chan were best for Falcons.
But there was better news for Wide Bay in the Connell Challenge, with the Falcons reduced to a 42-14 winning margin.
Wide Bay coach Craig Brough highlighted how difficult it was for both the Meninga Cup and Connell Challenge outfits when he said his team had not trained in the lead-up to the match because of distance - while Falcons had trained nine times.
Indeed it was a home game for Wide Bay - yet they still travelled three hours to the match.
But Brough said there was no doubt the "talent is there'' in the Wide Bay.
He said the focus was on the first half which they drew 10-all because he knew the Falcons superior fitness would see them dominate the second half.
"I am proud of them and I am happy with our results,'' Brough praised.
He said winger Adam Khan deserved recognition, as did the spine of Ezekiel Monckton, Joseph Meikle, Ryan Bugeja and Fletch Prendergast.
"They did well steering them around and defending,'' he said.
For Falcons, tries were scored by Brock Thomas, Jayden Smith, Spencer Abbott, Jed Zerk, Tulloch McLellan, Zac Garton and Aneurin Florence.
In other Connell Challenge action, the Tweed Seagulls won 18-14 over Souths Magpies, with Keahn Skipps' goal kicking the difference after both teams scored three tries.
Will Saunders, Sang Nguyen and Taelon Te Whiu-Hopa scored for Wynnum, while Devonte Vaivela, Jacob Tinsley and Corey Nassif scored for Souths.
"For us our defence was tough but we completed at 25 per cent in the second half.'' said Souths Logan coach Ben Trim.
At Dolphin Oval, the Redcliffe Dolphins were in fine form in winning 54-10 over Wynnum Manly.
Coach Chris Little said five-eight Karl Oloapu, lock Amos Tuialii and fullback Josh Callahgan were outstanding for his side.
Oloapu scored three tries while Tuialii managed to cross after just one minute of play.
Siosifa Kava also managed two tries.
The Wynnum Seagulls decided to rest several members of its squad to give some players who had missed earlier selection a taste of a higher standard of football. "It was good for those blokes to taste the next level,'' said Wynnum coach Jarrod Biggs.
Biggs said best for Wynnum were Jack Hudson, Jeremy Trappett, Will Allen, Jack Leo and Dempsey Taylor.
In Townsville, The Mackay Cutters had an impressive 26-8 win over Northern Pride.
A five try first half set up the win with Burnett, Wattas, Jones, Jeffrey and Shears crossing.
Cutters coach John Mulherin said he was reluctant to single players out because it was an excellent team performance.
But the Players Player was Will Shears while captain Henry Thorpe "led from the front as he has all year''.
"Xaiver Kerisk at hooker was outstanding, Kynan Jeffrey scored on debut while off the bench Oscar Filmer added spark.''
The Mustangs versus Carpas clash was described by Capras coach Duane Carpenter as a "cracker'', won 32-28 by Mustangs.
With Harry Eyers bagging a double, Mustangs scored six tries to five and led 20-10 at halftime after tries by Cruz Williamson, De La Salle Va'a, Bailey Nash and Harry Eyers before Capras surged.
Tavita Penaia Te'o, Hoani Harris and Ryder Huth were to the forefront of Capras push for victory, but their efforts were not enough to prevent a narrow loss.
On the Gold Coast, the Burleigh Bears enjoyed a 44-24 win over Ipswich Jets.
The Bears led 26-8 at the break after Jayviah Nomotu, Andrew Brennan, Caleb Te Momo, Nomotu again and Ben Roadnight scored for the home team.
Ipswich coach Jye Tauimau-Gadsdon said his prop Larry Siala and interchange player Lachlan Stuart were best for the Jets.
The Brisbane Tigers had a successful journey across town to Bishop Park where the young cubs beat Norths 38-6.
Tigers coach Damien Pratt said on an extremely hot day, he was pleased with the team effort.
"We were quite strong right across the park, with all players contributing to our game plan with good intent,'' Pratt said.
Pratt said Connor Simpson, PJ Sua, Cameron Bukowski, Jack McCosker and Bailey Neave were his best.
"It was a nice finish for our journey. The boys enjoyed the Connell Challenge experience,'' Pratt said.
Originally published as Meninga/Connell Cups: Best players, premiers tip