Norths Tigers are preparing for another battle with Valleys in Saturday’s Volunteers Cup semi-final at the North Ipswich Reserve. Picture: Nev Madsen
Norths Tigers are preparing for another battle with Valleys in Saturday’s Volunteers Cup semi-final at the North Ipswich Reserve. Picture: Nev Madsen

Time to put Volunteers Cup top four to final test

BOMBER'S BLAST

Anthony Breeze

THE final four are preparing for battle as the Rugby League Ipswich Volunteers Cup series reaches the semi-final stage.

Two great clashes are in store at the North Ipswich Reserve on Saturday afternoon.

Here is how they shape up.

3pm: Valleys v Norths

Valleys will go into this clash as favourites after defeating a gallant Gatton outfit last week.

Norths will be taking losing form into the semi-final after a defeat by West End.

Valleys have managed a strong season, which has been ravaged by injuries to key players and some costly suspensions. They had a tough contest last week which showed when the game is in the balance they have some experienced players to guide them through.

The forward pack has been brilliantly led all season by Jacob Mouatt and Curtly Hammond who have done a ton of work in the middle of the field, which has helped their halves get some quick service to their speedy backline especially Alexander Hinch who is right up there in the try scoring stakes.

When they lost star half Gerome Burns a few weeks back, a few judges thought they may struggle but Josh Chappell has stepped up and delivered for the Roosters in his absence.

Other players who have had great seasons include fullback Dylan Chown, winger Aaron Hooper and centres Brock Diment and Dwayne Duncan. They will be called on again to lead the charge.

Norths go into this game on the back of two recent losses with some patchy form. They will need to pick up in most areas if they are to be winning this game.

The Norths pack, which likes to get down and dirty, will need to work for each other and contain the middle of the field which will give their halves more time to organise their attacking raids.

Half Richie Lowe has been strong for the Tigers this year and another good game by him will allow Luke Self to pick his moments when to inject himself in attack.

The Tigers go in underdogs. But if they can get back to doing the little things right then they can get the win.

Remember they are the only team to defeat Goodna.

For Valleys to win: Must start fast and win the rucks which will allow for Duncan to reap havoc outwide. If Burns plays then their odds shorten as Chappell becomes a danger in another area. Look for Hinch to get more involved and score at least one try.

For Norths to win: Get back to doing what they normally do best and play tough. Get their discipline back in check and play to the whistle. Fesolai needs to step up and get more involved.

Valleys player Zac Stevens tackles Norths ball carrier Lopi Folau in their earlier Volunteers Cup clash this season. Picture: Nev Madsen
Valleys player Zac Stevens tackles Norths ball carrier Lopi Folau in their earlier Volunteers Cup clash this season. Picture: Nev Madsen

5pm: Goodna v West End

Goodna are the team to beat and rounded off their campaign with a strong win again Souths.

West End won a tough contest against rivals Norths.

Goodna showed from round one they were the team to beat. They have cruised through the competition with some easy victories and a minor hiccup losing to Norths.

This Eagles outfit has it all - big forwards, speedy backs and experienced players in the right areas.

Besse Aufaga-Toomaga has been the standout player in the competition and has

shown his class in attack and defence.

Aufaga-Toomaga is also a sharpshooter when kicking for goal which nearly always has turned a four-pointer into six, giving the Eagles a huge advantage.

Goodna's forward pack is feared and has been superbly led by experienced players Ramon Filipine and Rez Phillips. They have shown some of the newcomers the ropes in the middle. This Eagles outfit, while having players that have done it all, have also seen the rise of some youngsters who have adapted to the top grade especially centre Elone Taufa who has been brilliant all year.

West End have been a team that stays in games but switches off on occasions, which has seen them lose several games by small margins.

If they can put it together in attack and defence, they are more than capable of defeating Goodna, a team they had beaten in round one until a last gasp try got the Eagles home.

The West End forwards will need to match it with their opponents and will require strong contributions from Teutau, Foueti and Nonoa-Hansell.

If the Bulldog forwards can start strong, this will give more time for Oti to guide his team around the park.

The Mosby brothers will be dangers outwide but must get some clean ball to be able to showcase their skills.

For Goodna to win: Just do what their have been doing all season and win the centre before throwing the ball out to their backs. Stay disciplined and listen to their experienced players.

For West End to win: Turn up with the right mindset and work for each other. Captilise on any chances they get and complete at a high level. Bring the goal kicking boots along.

Quick thoughts

POSITIVES: 1. If you are a fan of the Panthers or Storm (NRL) or Port or Lions (AFL) then you are one step closer to a grand final berth.

2. The LA Lakers were once regarded as the best in the land but have endured some rough recent years. That is all about to change with Lebron's men only one win away from winning this year's NBA title.

3. The Australian women's cricket team for equalling the world record (21) for most successive wins in ODI. They have beaten New Zealand (6), Sri Lanka (3), West Indies (3), England (3), Pakistan (3) and India (3) along the way.

NEGATIVES: 1. Melbourne Storm's blatant time wasting in last week's semi-final. They coped a $10,000 fine but maybe add another zero to the end to make sure clubs don't do it again.

2. Essendon fans endured a tough AFL season and now they are watching their club implode with star players Joe Daniher and Adam Saad requesting trades.

Sporting birthdays

1. 1864: Maud Watson - British tennis player who became the first female Wimbledon champion.

2. 1955: Steve Ovett - One of the greatest athletes to come out of England. He won gold in the 800m and bronze in the 1500m at the Moscow Olympics.

3. 1975: Mark Viduka - regraded as one of Australia's greatest soccer players. He captained his country and was inducted into the FFA Hall of Fame in 2014.

On this day

1. 1976: Pakistan cricketing great Javed Miandad makes his Test debut and scores 163 on day one.

2. 1976: New Zealand cricketer Peter Petherick makes his debut and takes a hat-trick, including the wicket of Miandad.

3. 2011: German Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel finishes third in Japan, which clinches his second consecutive World Drivers Championship.