Norths player Lopi Folau and Junior Chong-Nee from Valleys exchange some pleasantries during last weekend’s Volunteers Cup clash in Toowoomba. Picture: Nev Madsen
Norths player Lopi Folau and Junior Chong-Nee from Valleys exchange some pleasantries during last weekend’s Volunteers Cup clash in Toowoomba. Picture: Nev Madsen

Crunch time at Goodna for sides in hunt for semi-final spots

BOMBER'S BLAST

Anthony Breeze

GOODNA returned to the winner's circle, Gatton kept their slim semi-final hopes alive and Valleys signalled they will be there when the whips start cracking after Round 8 of the Volunteers Cup.

Round 9 kicks off on Saturday at Woogaroo Field, Goodna.

Here is how the games shape up.

1.30pm: West End v Valleys

West End were coming home fast last week against Goodna before eventually losing by 12.

Valleys put in a good home ground performance to consolidate a top two spot.

West End, minus captain Aiden Boyce, were always going to do it a little tough against the

competition leaders and by halftime that's exactly how it looked with the Eagles having the best of the first half.

The Bulldogs, who often do not put in a full 80 minute performance. really stepped up in the second period and came home hard with two tries to give them a slim chance of victory. However they eventually ran out of time.

Valleys, who are favoured be playing on grand final day, faced a Norths outfit coming off a great victory over competition leaders Goodna. They got off to a great start on their home turf, scoring in the second minute.

The Roosters looked good for the remainder of the first half and took a 12 point lead into the break after having a huge possession advantage.

The second half, with an even amount of ball, was a much closer affair but the Roosters always looked in control.

West End will have to contain a Valleys side that has speed to burn but the Bulldogs have a forward pack that is starting to hit some form. They will be a dangerous side towards the end of the competition.

The Bulldogs must get more out of their halves who on the back of a rampaging forward pack are lacking some last play options or a good last play kick.

If they get this right, they are a big chance to win this game.

The Roosters are doing most of the little things right and if they put in a more complete performance they will be very hard to beat.

Valleys have a forward pack that work tirelessly and a backline that is probably the fastest in the competition being led by speedster Alexander Hinch. He was back to his best after serving his suspension scoring three tries.

Hinch is scoring the tries but he has been getting great ball from two in-form centres in Diment and Duncan.

This promises to be a tough close contest with the team that holds the ball and gets better field position winning this one.

3.30pm: Norths v Souths

Norths, coming over a super win over Goodna the previous week, again put in a good performance but it wasn't enough to defeat Valleys on their home ground.

Souths had a golden opportunity to sit in outright fourth but couldn't get the job done against a more committed Gatton team.

Norths had little possession against the Roosters last week in the first half and basically had themselves to blame with some sloppy handling.

Norths showed some glimpses of form in the second half and showed when they held the ball that they can attack with the best teams in the competition.

They have an unheralded forward pack but have a pack that work together and are not scared to get down and dirty when required.

Kyle Blackman is having an exceptional competition running out wide while Dylan Martin is at his annoying best in the middle of the field.

Luke Self had a quiet game by his standards last week and will be looking to inject himself more into the backline, which will only benefit Anava Fesolai who knows how to find the tryline.

Souths have shown indifferent form so far this season, being good one week then below average the next. They must get back to basics and just do the little things to win this game. That includes completing their sets and kicking for field position.

Luke Maidan and Jacob Whittaker have been strong upfront but they need the rest of the pack to follow their lead and muscle up when required. If they do, star half Matt Duggan can weave his magic and they might be able come away with a win.

One thing for certain in this game is a Tigers victory. But will it be the Ipswich Tigers or the Toowoomba variety?

Form says Norths will win this game and that's where I am leading.

Souths footballer Wade Austin tackles Gatton’s Jayden Williams in last weekend’s Volunteers Cup encounter in Toowoomba. Picture: Nev Madsen
Souths footballer Wade Austin tackles Gatton’s Jayden Williams in last weekend’s Volunteers Cup encounter in Toowoomba. Picture: Nev Madsen

5.30pm: Goodna v Gatton

After suffering their first loss against Norths Goodna returned to some form last week against West End.

Gatton also tasted victory against rivals Souths in a thrilling match.

The Eagles don't often lose two matches in a row and came out firing with a first half that matched their form so far this season.

The forward pack went forward and their backline clicked to basically have the game in hand by the break. When they are in this mood then it takes a great team to defeat them and the

Bulldogs found this out last week.

The only blemish on their win was some complacency in the second half which enabled West End to score some easy tries.

The Eagles have been superbly led upfront by props Afoa and Phillips but backrower Malaesailia has been a standout with some awesome performances.

The return of Seumanutafa also gave Goodna some more attacking options and this bloke knows how to sniff a try out.

While the forwards seen to get most of the credit, the backline has been super with Taufa, Schwalger and Naidu tearing holes in opposition defences.

Gatton, who sit on the bottom of the ladder and copped a thrashing from the Bulldogs the previous week, were a different side against Souths.

The Hawks always have fiery games against the Tigers and this one didn't disappoint with several flare-ups.

Gatton however settled down to play football first and after being behind for the majority of the game were able to convert their chances into points and snatch victory.

Gatton's pack doesn't get enough credit for the effort their put in but no-one can deny the effort that Hicks, Frohloff and Powell seem to put in each week.

Tyson White has been great at either centre or fullback but Oliver Bichel has been absolutely sensational with his knack to break a tackle. If they are to make the semis, this bloke will play a big part.

Most judges will see a big victory to the Eagles because of a bigger pack and playing in front of their passionate fans for the first time.

If Gatton are to cause a huge upset, everything must go right for them from completing their sets, gaining field position and converting all their chances into points.

Gatton will go down trying but I see a solid Eagles victory.

Quick thoughts

POSITIVES: 1. What a performance from US golfer Bryson DeChambeau as he claimed his 1st major - the US Open. DeChambeau dismantled the tough Winged Foot Course winning by an incredible six shots.

2. The regular season is over in the AFL and all eyes now turn to the semi-finals. If you are a Power, Lion, Tiger, Cat, Eagle, Saint, Bulldog or Magpies fan then you are still a chance for the flag.

3. Hancock Brothers Hockey Club can rightfully claim to be the best club in the Ipswich competition this year with two stirring victories in the men's and women's grand finals.

Negatives: 1. The season from hell is finishing for the Broncos and it couldn't have come quick enough for the fans. Some serious soul-searching from the players is required in the off-season or more heartache will return next year.

2. The NRL is hellbent on changing the way rugby league is played with another four rule changes to be trialled. It's the "greatest game of all'' for a reason so leave it alone with some minor changes only.

Sporting birthdays

1. 1946 - Bishan Bedi - Champion Indian left arm spinner who took 266 wickets from 67 Tests.

2. 1955 - Karl-Heinz Rummenigge - German soccer player regarded as one of his country's finest.

3. 1965 - Scottie Pippen - NBA Hall of Famer who starred for the Chicago Bulls.

On this day

1. 1926: The NHL grants franchises to the Chicago Black Hawks and Detroit Red Wings.

2. 1934: Lou Gehrig plays his 1500th consecutive game.

3. 1962: Sonny Liston KO's Champion Floyd Patterson in Rd 1 to claim the heavyweight title.

4. 1982: Keke Rosberg becomes the first Finnish Driver to win the Formula 1 Drivers Championship.