Premiership a toss-up as contenders all a chance
I THINK this is the first time in my six years covering rugby league in Ipswich that all four semi-finalists have a chance of winning the title.
Brothers' season might indicate otherwise but whoever they play in the finals can beat them.
This is not to say they will, which is why Brothers remain near unbackable favourites to take out their sixth title in eight years.
Goodna is the only team to beat them this year but they have been troubled by Swifts and Norths.
Norths have their best shot in years with none of the usual injury concerns at this time of the season.
BROTHERS: Strengths - Discipline (no team sticks to its game plan better and gives the opposition less to work with), tough, hard working forwards, multiple play-makers, experienced heads in key positions and skill, pace and finishing skills out wide. Left side attack of Jason Connors, Liu Faamate, Broke Alofipo and Ben Seve the most dangerous attacking threat in the competition. Weaknesses - Not much. Possibly carrying a few out-of-condition forwards. This can be shown up only if the opposition makes fewer errors than Brothers and forces them to tackle more.
SWIFTS: Strengths - Under-rated forward pack. If Swifts' ball control is good, their forwards can dominate most teams. Props Tele Salesa and Connie Pearson are hard to control if they get a head of steam while back rowers Zeb Nuuola and Josh Seage provide the balance of impact and hard work in defence. Weaknesses - Don't have the depth of Goodna and Brothers, especially with John Umaga missing. If teams can match it with them in the middle, there will be times the Bluebirds have fewer than 13 A grade semi-final quality players on the field. Swifts' right-sided defence has been a headache all year while combinations in the backline are still coming together.
GOODNA: Strengths - Biggest, meanest forward pack in the competition, three ex-internationals and pace to burn out wide. Goodna is playing a more structured game this year, making them harder to beat. But when the structure breaks down, they have the experience and ability to hurt the opposition from anywhere. Weaknesses -Biggest, meanest forwards pack in the competition means when the emotion wears off and stamina is tested, Goodna can be found wanting against teams that make them work hard.
NORTHS: Strengths - Committed, hard-working forward pack, skilful playmakers and an unshakeable team spirit throughout. Weaknesses - Concede size to all other forward packs so can't afford any ill-discipline.
Brothers will be too clinical for Swifts and qualify first for the grand final. Norths will beat Goodna after they frustrate the Eagles into indiscipline.