IF THERE is any truth to the adage that “defence wins premierships”, the Sunshine Coast Sea Eagles are the team to beat in this year’s Queensland Cup premiership race.
Sunshine Coast skipper Daly Cherry-Evans.
The Brandon Costin-coached side goes into tomorrow’s semi-final against Mackay at Stockland Park on an eight-game winning streak, on the back of an air-tight defensive effort over the past two months.
The Sea Eagles have conceded just 96 points over the past eight rounds at an astounding average of only 12 points per game.
Sea Eagles captain Daly Cherry-Evans believes it no accident the side’s recent hot streak has coincided with a newfound, steely defensive resolve.
He said the side was determined not to rest on its laurels going into the do-or-die clash against the Cutters, with the squad squarely concentrating on securing back-to-back premierships.
“We have put a lot of emphasis on defence lately – it certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed,” he said.
“It’s been a strong team goal. A lot of our game has really evolved around our defence over the last few weeks.”
If Mackay is able to spring an upset win over the Sunshine Coast, it will likely be the 21-year-old’s final game for the Sunshine Coast.
Cherry-Evans, is in line to replace Bulldogs-bound Trent Hodkinson as Manly’s first choice No.7 for the 2011 NRL season.
The Sunshine Coast’s feeder relationship with Manly is also likely to end, due to the ARL kyboshing dual registration, meaning that even if Cherry-Evans remains on the fringes of first grade, there is no guarantee he will be plying his trade at Stockland Park next year.
Cherry-Evans said there was no time for reflection on such matters with the side’s season on the line.
“At the moment, I’m not sure what the feeling is with the guys up there (on the Sunshine Coast), the players that are coming from down here (in Sydney), we really want to play finals football,” he said.
“It’s going to be a whole new game this week. Both sides are going to lift in intensity. In saying that, we’re not looking too far ahead.
“We’re taking it as it comes. I’m just concentrating on winning a premiership with a good bunch of blokes.”
Meanwhile, the Sunshine Coast Sea Eagles are in talks with the Sydney Roosters in regards to a possible arrangement next season.
The Bondi-based club and Sunshine Coast are negotiating a deal that would help boost the Coast’s playing roster and develop Roosters juniors.
With dual-registration laws likely to heavily affect Manly’s arrangement with Sunshine Coast, the club is looking at other avenues.
Sea Eagles chief Justin Veivers said Manly was Sunshine Coast’s priority, but the club was in talks with Sydney about a possible deal.
“We’ve had a couple of meetings with the Roosters that have been quite positive,” he said. “At the moment we’re waiting to hear from them about some sort of official approach.”
– Additional reporting by Travis Meyn