Beer bet raises stakes as Dogs seek redemption
THE Redbank Plains Bears and West End Bulldogs will rekindle what has developed into one of the great rivalries in Ipswich rugby league on Sunday afternoon.
Last season, as the Bulldogs retreated to the sheds and licked their wounds, the Bears were next door enjoying winners' beers at the expense of West End coach Jae Woodward.
A debt paid after he and Redbank Plains mentor John Leota wagered a carton on the outcome of the fixture.
"He just called me up and asked me if I wanted to have a bet," Woodward said.
"I obliged. He won the bet. I paid up after the game.
"Unfortunately, I didn't get the beers but he assured me that they tasted good."
After the Bears savoured the rewards of that bet between mates, the Bulldogs are sure to be determined to get one back for their trusted mentor.
Woodward said he would welcome another call from Leota.
"He hasn't called me again," he said. "But sure, we will probably have the phone call."
If it is to earn redemption on Woodward's behalf, the West End pack will need to dust itself off from last weekend's hammering in the wet and match the sizeable Bears up front.
"They're big and strong through the middle," he said.
"We need to stop their momentum and limit the impact of their big outside backs."
Games are always physical when the Bears come out to play. The Bulldogs are expecting another brutal encounter.
In round two when the teams met, the Bears prevailed 26-18 at Redbank Plains.
Woodward recognised Redbank Plains had since improved and he said his outfit would need to show up to Daniel's Park with the right attitude.
But he declared the league open and backed his pups to show plenty of mongrel.
"Anyone can beat anyone in this competition," he said.
Though only mid-way through the season, the contest looms as an important one in the context of the top four aspirations of both teams.
The sixth-placed Bulldogs (13) need to register a win to stay in touch with the the top four.
"We need to start winning games," Woodward said.
"Being competitive is not going to be good enough to make finals. It is important that we get our season back on track as fast as possible."
Meanwhile, if Swifts (19) fall to Goodna (22), fourth placed Redbank Plains (18) could leapfrog them and move into third.
The Bears like their chances against West End. But a confident Leota said his troops knew very well the Bulldogs would be ravenous and they would need to bring their A-game.
"If we turn up to play, we will go away with the win," he said.
"West End will be hungry for the win. It is not guaranteed at all. We've got to show up and play or else we will get done."
Leota said the Bears made a statement last week by knocking off Swifts 22-6 but needed to prove it was not a fluke.
"We can't get carried away with beating Swifts," he said.
"This week is a new challenge and I hope our players are up for it. I believe they are."
West End will be without influential halfback Ray Garrett, second rower Chris Newman and Jets' forward Blake Lenehen. The Bulldogs welcome back on-field leader Kelepi Faukafa and Bryson O'Sullivan slots into the five-eighth position.
Missing for the Bears are prop Ambrose Fenn and second rower Benjamin Apelu. Albert Talipeau has been named 18th man as he nurses a niggling injury.
Dangerous fullback Godfrey Okot is back in action.
RLI Rd 9: Saturday (6.15pm) - Norths v Brothers at Keith Sternberg Oval.
Sunday (3pm): West End v Redbank Plains at Daniel's Park; Swifts v Goodna at Purga.