Waves Tigers and Past Brothers will relish the extra spotlight when they meet in the semi-final in the curtain-raiser to the Bulldogs v Cowboys showdown on Sunday.
The local teams will play in the Bundaberg Broadcasters A Grade Premiership Major Semi-final at 11 am at Salter Oval before the historic Canterbury Bulldogs v North Queensland Cowboys NRL match kicks off at 2 pm.
Waves were minor premiers and coach Antonio Kaufusi said having last week off “was a good thing” as they come up against a Brothers side which accounted for a depleted Hervey Bay Seagulls 42-22 in the Qualifying Final last Saturday.
“We had a really tough game against Hervey Bay down there a week before (winning 12-6) and we had some really sore bodies, but we are fit and will be full strength, and I’m really happy with how the boys trained (yesterday) afternoon and we are looking in good shape to be fair,” Kaufusi said.
“But I’m thinking it will be a really, really tight game – I watched Brothers in the first half against Hervey Bay – it was the first time I’ve been to footy in a while (after travelling to Les Angeles at the start of July to be with his gravely ill father), and they looked like a really different team to last time I saw them, and they are peaking at the right time, and are balanced around the whole team, and Pat Templeman is a really good inclusion for them.
“I’ve got no illusions – Kevin Sherriff and Tyla Hodge will lead them from the front, and I think it’s going to be won in the forwards, and if can hold them up, it will give us a good shot.
“But the carrot is there with the opportunity to go straight through to the final – I got a good eye on players I had not seen play before – I obviously missed the game when Brothers beat us 40-18 (three weeks ago) but I’ve watched a bit of footage, and they beat us up the middle, and we have to match that and try to keep Pat Templeman and Jake Thompson a bit quiet if we can.”
Waves have triumphed in 10 of their last 11 matches and won 11 games to Brothers’ eight during the regular season.
“We are lucky to have Jacob O’Shea back for three weeks now and he has been awesome all year, along with co-captains Daniel McLennan and Reece Maughan, and young Brendan Grills and Jensen Deamer in their first years at club, and it’s a bit special this week too, playing before the NRL boys, but it doesn’t mean anything if we don’t play like we have been training,” Kaufusi said.
The Brethren are the two-times defending champions and their coach Andrew Hamilton has them primed in their quest for a hat-trick of titles.
Meanwhile, Hervey Bay Seagulls will take on Wests Panthers in the Minor Semi-final at Brothers Sports Club tomorrow at 3.30pm.
Seagulls coach Jacob Blanke is hoping to have a string of their stars back, but he is also expecting a tough battle with the Panthers, who came back from a 20-6 deficit in the first half of the Elimination Final against Easts Magpies, and also came from behind in extra-time to clinch an upset 34-26 victory.
The Reserve Grade play-offs are also at Brothers tomorrow, with Easts to meet Waves in the Minor Semi at 12 noon, before the Major Semi shoot-out between minor premiers Wests and Hervey Bay at 1.45pm.
Meanwhile in the Northern Districts Men’s Premiership, South Kolan Sharks’ title defence will go on the line when they suit up against hosts Avondale Tigers in the Preliminary Final at Tegege at 2.45pm tomorrow.
The Sharks’ recent form has been poor, being thrashed by Miriam Vale 60-8, drawing with Gin Gin Hawks 42-all, going down to Avondale 34-22, forfeiting to Miriam Vale, and being upstaged by Gin Gin 44-38, before a 54-10 Major Semi thrashing by their hosts and minor premiers Miriam Vale Magpies last Sunday, but at full strength, they have still got a very good team.
The Tigers have struck form at the right time and are fresh from a clinical 28-4 Minor Semi-final dispatch of the Hawks.
An epic duel is also expected in the Women’s League Tag Preliminary Final at 1.30pm between Agnes Water Marlins and Avondale Tigerettes.
Bryce Hibberd bagged three goals in a superb all-round performance as Across The Waves moved to the top of the Football Queensland Premier League Wide Bay Men’s table, with two games in hand, with a 6-0 whitewash of United Park Eagles last night.
Approaching the business end of the season, Waves are away to second placed KSS Jets tomorrow, while fourth placed Bingera will host third seeds Fraser Flames at 6pm, and at Martens Oval at 6pm, last-start winners SC Corinthians take on Sunbury Blues.
Granville will do battle with Doon Villa to complete the round on Sunday.
There are two matches in the WB Women’s League tonight, with Diggers taking on Sunbury at Martens Oval at 6.30pm, and Tinana to meet United Warriors.
Tomorrow, Bingera host the Flames at 2pm, while Waves venture to Hervey Bay for their match-up with the Jets.
There will be double-headers in the Bundaberg Hockey Division 1 Women this weekend, with leaders Raiders/Rovers to square off with Waves Cities at 7.40pm tonight, before backing up against Arrows/Athletics at 7.20pm tomorrow.
Arrows will aim up against All Blacks at 6.20pm tonight, while All Blacks will clash sticks with old foes Cities at 4.40pm tomorrow.
In the Men’s Division, All Blacks and Cities’ No. 2 teams will take to the field at 2pm tomorrow, with Cities I to joust with Arrows at 3.20pm, and All Blacks I opposed to Raiders/Rovers at 6pm.
Reigning champions Waves Gold look set to clinch another Bundaberg Warren Family Homes Division 1 Premiership Minor title with a win over their last placed Waves Blue club-mates in the penultimate round at the Superpark at 5pm tomorrow.
Then at 6.30pm, Alloway Blue will lock horns with Natives Aim Hearing Magpies in what will also be a dress rehearsal for the Minor Semi-final in a fortnight’s time.