All- Qld fi­nale on the cards

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - CHRIS­TIAN NICOLUSSI

NSW fans still reel­ing from the record 52- 6 State of Ori­gin loss to Queens­land on Wed­nes­day night should look away now, be­cause it could be about to get even worse.

As the NRL heads into the fi­nal nine rounds of the sea­son, there is the very real prospect of the first- ever all- Queens­land grand fi­nal.

Hav­ing ne­go­ti­ated an eightweek Ori­gin pe­riod that’s been tra­di­tion­ally bru­tal for Queens­land teams, lad­der lead­ers Bris­bane and sec­ond­placed North Queens­land are clear at the top of the ta­ble.

Now sta­tis­tics show they are primed to book a spot in the Oc­to­ber 4 de­cider at Syd­ney’s ANZ Sta­dium.

Teams who are run­ning first and sec­ond at this time of the sea­son have a strong record of reach­ing the de­cider.

Ac­cord­ing to Fox Sports Stats, in the past 10 years sides who have been placed one- two af­ter Ori­gin III have gone on to play each other in the grand fi­nal on three oc­ca­sions.

And at least one of those teams has pushed all the way to the de­cider seven times.

So if Wed­nes­day night’s view­ing wasn’t painful enough, imag­ine hav­ing to sit down on the first Sun­day in Oc­to­ber and choose be­tween the Bron­cos or Cowboys.

The Syd­ney Roost­ers are third and re­main NSW’s best hope to spoil the banana ben­ders’ party.

They’re $ 4 TAB premier­ship favourites ahead of the Queens­land duo ( both $ 5).

Pre­miers South Syd­ney ($ 8) are fourth, but will need to re­dis­cover their form of last sea­son soon if they’re to chal­lenge again, St Ge­orge Illawarra ($ 26) are in free fall, while Can­ter­bury ($ 6) and Pen­rith ($ 26) ap­pear to be the only other Syd­ney teams ca­pa­ble of fir­ing.

The thought of watch­ing Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott, Corey Parker, Justin Hodges, Sam Thai­day – all proud Ma­roons – po­ten­tially celebrate in Syd­ney could en­tice a few NSW fans to pack the bags and es­cape for an early hol­i­day.

JCU Saints play­ers Apa Sents and Danny Handupi are a long way from the high­lands of Pa­pua New Guinea, but they have be­come key cogs in their new club’s sport­ing cul­ture.

Sents and Handupi are two of six PNG en­gi­neer­ing stu­dents who have played se­nior Townsville and Dis­tricts Rugby League with the Saints this year, bring­ing their tough brand of footy along with a hum­ble off- field at­ti­tude that has im­pressed team­mates and club ad­mi­nis-

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