Intrust Super Cup Round 26 preview
The business end of the season has arrived early for the Ipswich Jets and Tweed Heads Seagulls as both sides face must-win Round 26 games in order to make the Intrust Super Cup finals series.
The final round of Queensland's premier rugby league competition will see three crucial clashes take place that will ultimately decide the makeup of the true premiership contenders.
The finals fate of five teams still remains undecided with the Easts Tigers, Wynnum Manly, PNG Hunters, Tweed Heads and Ipswich still battling it out to improve their chances of seeing September action.
Northern Pride (first, 44 points) were able to wrap up the minor premiership at the beginning of August, but there's still plenty at stake for the remaining sides still in contention.
Undoubtedly the match of the round will see Easts (second, 37 points) take on third-placed Wynnum Manly (36 points) with the winner of that match at Langlands Park in Channel Nine's Sunday TV game qualifying for a home final.
Easts Tigers have been dealt a blow with Melbourne Storm youngster Cameron Munster suspended for the clash with his place at fullback taken by Eddie Tautali. Wynnum Manly will head into the match fresh from their Round 25 bye knowing that a win will seal a home final against the Tigers at Kougari Oval.
The second fixture of importance sees the Jets (fifth, 32 points) host the struggling Redcliffe Dolphins at North Ipswich Reserve in Saturday's only ISC match. A win for the Jets guarantees them a place in the top five but a loss would see the PNG Hunters (sixth, 31 points) sneak into the finals at their expense by virtue of having a final round bye.
Ipswich will head into their match against Redcliffe warm favourites meaning the likely path PNG have to scrape into the top five is by hoping Tweed Heads Seagulls fall to Mackay Cutters.
The Seagulls (fourth, 33 points) will host last year's premiers at Piggabeen Sports knowing that a win will seal fourth spot on the ladder and hosting rights for the minor semi-final. Mackay are out of finals contention but if they manage to beat Tweed by 12 points or more the Seagulls will surrender their place in the finals to the Hunters.
Both the Dolphins and Cutters have nothing but pride left to play for, although they can provide nuisance value for their opponents and dictate the shape of the finals series.
The remaining games of Round 26 see the Burleigh Bears host Northern Pride, the Sunshine Coast Falcons travel to Brisbane's West End to take on Souths Logan Magpies and the Norths Devils are at home to the Central Queensland Capras.