The finals have come early for the Seagulls’ Hastings Deering Colts team with a virtual play-off for eighth spot against Northern Pride starting at 2.20pm at Piggabeen Sports Complex on Saturday.
Both teams are locked on 24 competition points with the Seagulls holding a points-differential advantage of 58 points, so the formula is simple for team coached by club stalwart Matt King.
If they win or draw they finished in the finals, if they lose they will repeat last year’s scenario of falling just two points short.
The Seagulls beat the Pride 30-14 in round 11 but King warns that both teams have had considerable line-up changes since then.
The Colts’ form has been similar to first grade’s in recent weeks, up and down: heavy defeats against second-placed Burleigh Bears and third-placed Wynnum Manly, a one-point loss to seventh-placed Easts Tigers and a draw against last-placed Ipswich Jets.
However the 40-12 victory against Souths Logan last Sunday may prove a turning point.
“We would have only nine or 10 players left in the 17 and they’ve had about seven changes but our core group is still there and we can take confidence from that result earlier in the season,” said King, who has his own team for the first time after spending a couple of seasons as Intrust Super Cup assistant coach under Aaron Zimmerle and Ben Woolf.
“We’ve been patchy the last month but we have slowly been getting better after losing a few games quite heavily.
“The win against Souths last week was the best we have played for a long while so we are hoping to continue that on Saturday.
“We just have to come up and play to our full potential this weekend and control our destiny I suppose.
“When we stick to our processes and our get through our sets, we look really good and score points but when we get lost at times and get frantic and push the passes our footy gets a bit ugly and we seem to suffer.
“We often have a 20-minute window and play ugly, so it’s about sticking to our processes for 70 minutes we’re okay.”
King is hoping halfback and skipper Tahne Robinson will be fit to return to the side after missing the last two games with injury, An assessment will be made at Friday night’s training session.
Queensland under-18s representatives Ben Liyou and Juwan Compain are two young players who have progressed from the champion Mal Meninga Cup side who will take their place on Saturday and will be key players.
An interesting team member is winger Nash Geyer, who is the son of former Melbourne Storm premiership-winger winger and NSW State of Origin rep Matt Geyer.
The Seagulls have had two draws this season – against the Jets in round 20 and Wynnum Manly in round 5 – games King thought his side should have won.
Ironically, a draw will land them a finals place on Sunday – but a victory will be sweeter and give them momentum going into a clash against Norths Devils or Mackay Cutters in an elimination semi-final.
They have a club-first in their hands too. Never before have Tweed’s three senior grades – Intrust Super Cup, Colts (under-20s) and Mal Meninga Cup (under-18s) played finals football in the same season. A draw or win on Saturday will achieve that.