THERE could be an unprecedented situation of four points separating the top five teams as the race for the Pineapple Hotel Cup hots up this weekend.
Round 16 kicks off on Friday night with a Gold Coast derby between Coolangatta and Burleigh at Len Peak Oval, but the spotlight then focuses on the 2010 grand final rematch between Sandgate and Noosa at Lemke Road Oval on Saturday.
This is a clash which could really tighten things up at the top of the points ladder.
Should Sandgate (44 points) lose, they will be joined by Noosa (currently 40 points), Western Magpies (44) and Wilston-Grange (40), should the Gorillas get over Springwood in their clash at Hickey Park.
The Western Magpies have the weekend bye, as do sixth-placed Surfers Paradise (36 points), so these two sides do not get any points for the weekend.
Palm Beach-Currumbin (36) are away to Maroochy-Northshore in the only other match of round 16 when the Magpies, Surfers and Mayne have the bye.

By Terry Wilson

THE Pineapple Hotel Cup minor premiership is not the only thing on the minds of Sandgate when they host Noosa in a rematch of season 2010 grand finalists at Lemke Road Oval on Saturday.
The Hawks should have a thirst for revenge, not only because of their loss to the Tigers in last season’s grand final, but also because of a horror trip to the Sunshine Coast in round 11 this year.
That trip resulted in a 20.21 (141) to 8.6 (54) win to Noosa, a result that should surely have the Hawks fired up this weekend when the Tigers go for a third successive win over their rivals.
This website’s report of that match said: “Noosa led 3.8 to 2.0 at quarter-time, that score indicating what was to come if the Tigers found some accuracy.
“They did and put on 17.13 to 6.6 for the remainder of the game, a dominance built around a crackerjack midfield led by Lucas Matthews and Tom McKittrick, spark from centre half-back Brett Duke and outstanding firepower up front from full-forward Denny Brewster (eight goals) and half-forward Chris McGuigan (five goals).
“This was certainly the most dominant performance we’ve had this year,” said coach Wayne Fletcher.
That drubbing, and subsequent comments, should be fuel for the Sandgate fire in terms of reversing the result.
It has to be pointed the Hawks did not have top-liners in Danny Dickfos, Ben Drew, Will Bradley, Tom Overington and Damien Garton available that day.
Drew (knee) and Bradley (shoulder) are still not available for the Hawks, but the other three keys are back in action.
But the Hawks have had further injuries, losing central defender Aaron Fabian (broken arm), centre half-back Shane Etherton and Drew from the side that downed Western Magpies last weekend.
The Hawks brought back Garton, Jason Anthonisz and defender/ruckman Luke Reynolds for the big clash.
Captain-coach Ben Long refuses to look at past results, obviously erasing the round-11 drubbing from his memory bank.
“Footy’s a strange beast,” said Long. “If  you live on past results you never end up going forward.
“Bu we learnt a lot from that day. We saw a couple of Noosa players for the first time.
“Yet we need to carry on our form of last week rather than in round 11. We got back on track against the Magpies.”
Long said it is a massive game for both clubs, considering a loss could consign the loser to a knockout final.
The minor premiership could also be the prize for the winner, with Noosa’s healthy percentage (180.4) set to carry them to top spot and eventually the minor premiership with matches against Coolangatta and Mayne to follow.
Noosa skipper, half-back flanker Adam Bovalino, knows the Tigers have a hand on the minor premiership should the Tigers crack a modern-day bogy at Lemke Road.
“It’s always tough there because Sandgate always play their best footy at home – it’s a big challenge,” said the inspirational skipper.
In sobering news for Sandgate, Noosa head down the Bruce Highway with an absolute full-strength side following the inclusions of ruckman Peter Trompf,  small forward Travis Mills, centre half-back Dayne Frew, full-back Jason Boydle and wing Riley Buntaine.
Five changes would normally disrupt a side, but in this instance it should be the opposite, because all inclusions are highly-rated at the club.
Their returns forced Nathan Winter, Troy Duke, Rowan Sawers, Jack Tickner and Jack Hendrie out of the side.
“That was tough because no one was in bad form, really,” said Bovalino. “Everyone’s fit and raring to go.”

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