Tuesday, June 6, 2023

The Mendi Blackhawks are at this stage unchanged from their loss to Wynnum for Saturday’s showdown against the Falcons, though alterations are anticipated closer to the clash. Townsville will look to draw inspiration from winning the reverse fixture in the opening round of the season, with Aaron Payne’s side in need of a victory, on the Sunshine Coast.

“It’s easy to say it was one of our better performances so far because we won and we haven’t had too many wins, but the boys remained in the arm wrestle and managed to get the upper hand, that’s something we haven’t done enough of this season.”

There’ll be no sibling showdown between brothers Zac and Kyle Laybutt. The latter, who left the Mendi Blackhawks earlier this year, but remains the club’s most capped player, suffered a hamstring injury against Mackay, and won’t face his former team for the first time. Payne has mixed feelings on the five eighth’s absence.

“I know he’ll be devastated because he would have loved trying to get one over us and the boys would have loved him being out there in the battle but on the other hand, he’s a terrific player so that fact he can’t cause us any harm, helps our chances.”

The hosts blew a double digit lead last weekend in their shock loss to the Cutters, producing a second half not too dissimilar to Townsville’s shocker at home, when the Seagulls scored 26 unanswered points. Payne’s put plenty of emphasis on Saturday’s second forty and he won’t be surprised if it’s also the Falcons’ focus.

“Second halves have been our achilles heal, it’s something we’ve tried to improve in recent weeks and haven’t yet so we have to keep working towards getting that right. They’ll also want a better output after the break, I’m sure of that.”

Our under 21s will also face Sunshine Coast in the Hastings Deering Colts competition. Check out the team below.