The most eagerly-anticipated clash of Round 7 of the Intrust Super Cup has been postponed due to the threat of Cyclone Ita that is currently bearing down on North Queensland.
The only undefeated team left after six weeks, the Northern Pride, were due to host 2013 grand finalists Easts Tigers at Barlow Park in Cairns but the severity of the approaching storm forced Queensland Rugby League officials to postpone the match until Sunday, July 6, a weekend that is a general bye for all other teams.
There was consideration given to transferring the game to Brisbane this weekend but QRL competitions manager Jamie O'Connor said a decision was made to keep players with their families at this anxious time.
“These decisions are never easy, we always try to consider all options with the safety and welfare of the clubs our first priority," O'Connor said.
Despite the postponement of the Pride-Tigers clash, there remain a host of tantalising encounters across Round 7, none more so than the showdown between Redcliffe and Souths Logan. With a sprinkling of NRL-contracted talent against both sides and with just a solitary competition point separating them on the ISC ladder, the winner of this game on Sunday will receive a significant boost to their standing.
After serving a one match suspension, livewire Redcliffe halfback Adrian Davis comes back into the Dolphins line-up with the return of experienced winger Liam Georgetown, who has notched up 137 first grade games in the red and white, the only other change for the home side. The try-scoring whiz replaces Brett Coutts on the wing.
Coach Josh Hannay has reshuffled the Souths Logan line-up, with Grant Cooke and Shane Duck coming into the starting side for David Faamita and Sam Mataora.
The Magpies last week held a good early lead over the Wynnum Manly, only to be run down late in the game by the Seagulls. While the competition is still in its early days, this is a crucial match for both sides with the Magpies (eight points) in fifth and the Dolphins eighth (seven points).
Redcliffe are undefeated in their last six games against Souths Logan (five wins, one draw) but interestingly Souths Logan won six in a row before that.
The other key clash of the round will see the PNG Hunters return to home soil after two weeks away to tackle Tweed Heads Seagulls at Kokopo.
The Hunters were defeated by the Northern Pride in their last game at home in Round 4 and after a loss and draw on the road, will be eager to get back to the winning ways they displayed in the first three rounds.
Tweed Heads will be keen to snare an important away victory – and will also aim to record back-to-back wins for the first time this season. Thompson Teteh returns to a re-shuffled PNG line-up, along with Gonzela Urakusie, Noel Zemming and Adam Korave. Noel Joel, Joe Bruno and Esau Siune have all not been named while the Hunters will also be without forward Mark Mexico who has signed with the Cronulla Sharks.
The Hunters will miss the hard running of 'Mark the Shark' but will again re-group as they have previously when another NRL club came knocking – that time taking Wellington Albert to the Panthers.
The Seagulls have made multiple changes with five-eighth Beau Henry sitting out the week with a one-match suspension for striking. Josh Harvey and Chris Piper have also not been named, with Tom Merritt, Cody Nelson and Zac Friend returning to the side.
Interestingly, prop Damien Sironen – who scored Tweed’s first try in last weekend’s 12-8 win over Mackay – is the club’s leading try-scorer so far this season, having crossed for four tries in six games.
The other games in Round 7 see the CQ Capras host Norths Devils, Sunshine Coast face a tough task to end their losing streak when they travel to Wynnum, and defending premiers Mackay are entering 'must-win' territory when they play Burleigh Bears at Pizzey Park in the Channel Nine match of the round on Sunday.
For full previews of all Round 7 fixtures click here.