SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 07: Rhyse Martin of the Bulldogs converts a try during the round 17 NRL match between the Canterbury Bulldogs and the Canberra Raiders at Belmore Sports Ground on July 7, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

While most of the focus this Sunday will be on the NRL Grand Final, the NSW and Queensland Intrust Cup grand final winners will be battling it out in the main games curtain raiser to claim the Intrust Super State Championship.

2018 will be the fifth year the State Championship has been held with the states even on two wins apiece.

This year the 4th place finishing Canterbury Bulldogs will be up against the minor premiership winning Redcliffe Dolphins.

The Bulldogs defeated the Newtown Jets in a tightly contested grand final, 18-12 while the Dolphins knocked over the Easts Tigers in a higher scoring game, 32-22.

Former South Sydney lower grade back rower Toby Rudolf, won the Duncan Hall Medal for Redcliff with his Man Of The Match display and the State Championship will be a good chance for Cronulla Sharks fans to have a look at the second rower who will join their NRL team in 2019.

Former Canberra lower grade hooker, Zac Woolford, won Man Of The Match honours for the Bulldogs with a sharp display from dummy half, setting up a crucial try to winger Josh Bergamin.

Both teams will have a smattering of NRL experience with centre John Olive, half-back Fa’amanu Brown, props Renouf To’omaga and Francis Tuala, back rowers Ofahiki Ogden, Rhyse Martin and Greg Eastwood, along with bench forwards Lachlan Burr and Chris Smith lining up for the Bulldogs.

The Dolphins will have Broncos centres Kotoni Staggs and Tom Opacic, former Canberra, Melbourne and Warriors winger, Jeremy Hawkins, clever former Gold Coast and Many half-back Cameron Cullen, Broncos and former Melbourne lower grade hooker Jake Turpin and former Penrith prop Sam Anderson in their starting line up along with former Broncos and Cowboys forward Nick Slyney and former Bronco utility Aaron Whitechurch on the bench.

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Redcliff’s leading try scorer, Jonas Pearson will miss the match however they are well served for try scoring power with NSW born Staggs who will line up in the centres. His centres partner, Opacic, who is in talks with the North Queensland Cowboys for 2019, will also add experience out wide.

Talented half-back Cullen will be the general on the field for the Dolphins with his smart organising game and darting running. Former Manly lower grader Jamil Hopoate, brother of Canterbury’s Will Hopoate, will lock the Dolphins pack.

Talent scouts will no doubt be checking out the talented but troubled forward to see if he is worthy of another chance to become an NRL player. Hopoate’s on field ability has never been in question, it’s his off field antics that lead to a nine-month jail term for assault in 2014 that have prevented the forward from going onto higher honours in his rugby league journey.

Turpin should be at his scheming best and look out for his darts from dummy half along with his smart passing game.

Former Warriors and Newcastle Knights lower grade prop, James Taylor, will add size and impact from the bench.

For the Bulldogs’ fullback Mason Cerruto, he has had success wherever he has played over the past few years, be it with the Tigers, the Eels, Panthers and now the Bulldogs, Cerruto is a no nonsense reliable player who brings stability to the team.

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Talented young Kiwi centre Morgan Harper is one to watch and 2019 could easily see him push into the Bulldogs NRL side.

Five-eight Josh Cleeland won a premiership in the Queensland Cup back in 2015 with the Walker brothers coached Ispwich and his dangerous running and kicking game could cause endless headaches for the Dolphins defence.

Then there is the bulldogs pack, lead by NSW State Cup prop of the year, To’omaga and comprising talented back rowers Martin, Ogden along with the veteran Eastwood who will be playing his last game in Bulldogs colours. The Dolphins forwards will be in for a tough afternoon.

Former Canterbury and Gold Coast NRL player Lachlan Burr and former Roosters and Panthers back rower, Chris Smith, will both add impact from the bench.

So there you have it, a game well worth tuning into to get you in the mood for the NRL Grand Final. This should be a great contest with both clubs fighting to be crowned the Intrust Super State Champions for 2018 and bring the trophy home to their state.

The game kicks off at 3.30pm on Sunday and will be shown live on both Channel 9 and FOX League.


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