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Easts Tigers vs Ipswich Jets
2018 Queensland Cup, semi-final.Time: fulltime
|Suzuki Stadium, Queensland|
|Easts Tigers||Ipswich Jets|
Following remarkable upset wins in north Queensland last week, both the Easts Tigers and the Ipswich Jets will be glad to return to Brisbane as they fight for a spot in next week’s preliminary final. Join The Roar for live coverage from 1pm (AEST)
Both sides only just made the finals by the skin of their teeth with identical 13-10 win-loss records, beating out defending premiers the PNG Hunters on for and against.
There is some serious firepower in both backlines, headlined by the return of Scott Drinkwater to the halves following a successful NRL debut for the Melbourne Storm.
Drinkwater has been the focal point for the attack this year, but Easts managed to more than compensate for his loss last week in a thumping 32-0 upset of the Northern Pride.
Replacement half and Joshua Ralph bagged a hat-trick in what was just his second game of the year, but the Welsh international has dropped out of the match-day squad completely in this week what has got to rate as one of the harshest selection decisions this year.
Down the road in Townsville, meanwhile, the Jets had a similarly surprising 32-12 win over the Blackhawks, highlighted by big performances from newly-crowned Petero Civoniceva Medallist and captain Nathaniel Neale, along with the electrifying backline combination of Michael Purcell and Marmin Barba.
In the forwards, Easts have a collection of that is one of the most capped in competition history.
Although Kasiano is likely to miss today’s game due to his late-call up to the Storm bench, the Tigers still boast a pack that includes the likes of former South Sydney player Dane Tyrrell, Patrick Kaufusi, skipper James Foster and hooker Tommy Butterfield.
Contrastingly, the Jets have a greater mix of youth and experience. The aforementioned skipper, Nat Neale is having the season of his career, winning four Man of the Match awards, scoring nine tries, leading the competition for offloads and falling just behind teammate Ben Shea in the categories of post-contact metres and metres gained.
At hooker, Jayden Connors has proven a real livewire and has quickly made himself at home in first grade.
Even without Sam Kasiano, the Easts forward pack has a monumental advantage in experience and should have the upper hand in midfield.
In recent years, the Easts Tigers have had the upper-hand in the head to head battle, winning 11 out of the last sixteen clashes. Historically speaking though, the Jets have won all five finals clashes between the two sides (including BRL results).
Both sides are evenly matched and have both shown glimpse of competition-winning form this year, but the overall class of the Tigers and the consistency of their forward pack should prove enough to progress here.
Kick-off: 1:10pm (AEST)
Venue: Suzuki Stadium, Langlands Park (Brisbane)
TV: Live, Nine Network
Online: Live, 9Now
Betting: Tigers $1.56, Jets $2.45
Overall record: Played 46: Tigers 24, Jets 21, Draw 1
Last meeting: Round 16, Tigers 26 defeated Jets 24 at North Ipswich Reserve
Record in finals: Played 3: Jets 3, Tigers 0
Last meeting in finals: 2015 Preliminary Final, Jets 44, defeated Tigers 16, at North Ipswich Reserve
Referees: Liam Kennedy, Belinda Sleeman
Touch Judges: Jacob Whitehouse, Glen Stewart
Video Referees: Bruce Schmidt, Nick Kalpakidis
1. Linc Port, 2. Kea Pere, 4. Marion Seve, 3. Shane Neumann, 5. Leon Ellia-Niukore, 6. Scott Drinkwater, 7. Brayden Torpy, 8. Albert Vete, 9. Tommy Butterfield, 10. Sam Kasiano*, 11. Jake Foster (c), 12. Patrick Kaufusi, 13. Jack Svendsen
Interchange: 14. Matthew Groat, 15. Dave Tyrrell, 16. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, 17. Kelma Tuilagi
Coach: Scott Sipple
*Named in the starting line-up on Tuesday but was called up to play for the Melbourne Storm in last night’s Qualifying Final.
1. Michael Purcell, 2. Marmin Barba, 3. Richie Pandia, 4. Isimeeli Hafoka, 5. Wes Conlon, 6. Chris Ash, 7. Dane Phillips, 8. Tyson Lofipo, 9. Jayden Connors, 10. Nat Neale (c), 17. Billy McConnachie, 12. Ben White, 13. Ben Shea, 11. Rowan Winterfield
Interchange: 15. Kierran Moseley, 16. Huskie Teutau, 19. Mitch Carpenter, 14. Seb Pandia
Coaches: Ben Walker and Shane Walker