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2016 Intrust Super Cup draw: Pride to take on PNG Hunters at home

THE Hunters and their hordes of Far North fans will return to Barlow Park in 2016 in a major win for the Northern Pride.
The QRL’s release of next year’s Intrust Super Cup draw confirmed the competition would stay in its 25-round, two-bye format with only the composition of the six-team finals format yet to be locked in.
For the second time in three years, the Pride will open their season away to Sunshine Coast on March 5 or 6 before a round 2 derby in Cairns against Mackay.
The showdown with the Cutters is the club’s only home game in the opening five weeks of the campaign, bookended by a trip to champions Ipswich.
The first northern derby against the Blackhawks will be in Townsville (round 8) on April 23 or 24. After meeting PNG in round 13, the biggest plus for the Pride arrives when the Hunters return in round 24 (August 20 or 21).
In a move that drew the ire of Pride officials, the crowd-pulling entertainers sensationally didn’t play a regular season fixture in Cairns this year despite the huge PNG population in the Far North.
With the Blackhawks heading north in round 24, the Pride – who will play all five fellow finalists from this year twice – will be forced to earn a playoff berth.
“We pushed to get this PNG game here – they are one of the biggest crowds we get,” Pride CEO Rod Jensen said. “It’s a really strong finish to the back end of the year for us.
“It was intentional that we play home games against Mackay, Townsville and PNG because they are all pretty much derbys for us.”
QRL competitions manager Dave Maiden said it was not feasible for all clubs to play each other twice.
“After consultation with our clubs, we have endeavoured to place a priority on local derbys to ensure the competition’s biggest rivals meet twice,” he said. “This will help generate further excitement and will allow clubs to attract more fans through the gates.”
A string of away games between round 13 and 17 coincides with popular community events in Cairns, a move likely to boost crowds that fell badly in 2015. There were other big wins. There will also be an Easter bye for the Pride, a timeslot that has traditionally dragged the players away from home during the holiday.
Ravenshoe remains a frontrunner to land up to three games the Pride are likely to take into the Far North, though no fixtures have been set in stone.
The likelihood that the returning NRL fixture will be played on a weekend the Pride play outside of Cairns essentially bolsters the club’s number of home games to 11. Previously, the Pride would play the curtain-raiser fixture in which a large slice of gate takings would count as a home game for South Sydney.

Source: Cairns Post
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