THE Palmwoods Hotel Cup is only one week in, but Caloundra coach Brad Tronc has already rated Noosa as the team to beat.
Caloundra and Noosa both enjoyed comfortable season-opening wins last weekend, but Tronc was quick to label the Dolphins the competition heavyweight ahead of their clash tomorrow at Sunshine Beach.
"I think Noosa are going to be the benchmark," he said after the Dolphins thumped reigning premier Caboolture 28-13 in round one.
"That game could have been closer than the scoreboard suggested, but it was played down there (Morayfield) and if you go by the scoreboard you would think Noosa is the team to beat," Tronc said.
"While the three key players from last year's Caboolture side are now with the (Sunshine Coast) Stingrays, Noosa hasn't lost much from the team which made the grand final last year."
So Tronc expects tomorrow's clash to provide him with a good gauge of how Caloundra is shaping for the season.
"It will give us an indication of where we sit in the competition and it will let us know what we have to improve on," he said.
"I think Noosa will test us in all facets of the game, so it's up to us to turn up there ready to go."
Caloundra should be fired up for the occasion after losing to Noosa 21-20 in last year's preliminary final, the Dolphins scoring at the death.
"It seemed to go forever that game," Tronc said.
"It seemed to go for about 100 minutes. I think they lost their clock."
The defeat has lingered in the minds of the Caloundra players.
"There are still memories of that," Tronc said.
"None of them are happy with how we went out last year.
"We're not looking for redemption of anything like that this weekend, but we want to get our campaign rolling."
Caloundra will go into the match without key players Ben and Luke Trenerry and Jethro Tedman.
"We've got three out of the forward pack," Tronc said.
"Going to Noosa, that's probably not an ideal situation."
Outside centre Marty Brown (knee) is also set to miss the game, but the Lighthouses will boast inside centre Grant Litt - a star in the 33-19 win over Maroochydore last weekend.
"He gave us a lot of guidance and direction on the paddock," Tronc said.
>> GAME DAY
NOOSA v CALOUNDRA
Tomorrow, Dolphin Oval, Sunshine Beach, 3.15pm
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