Cazaly’s Stadium will play host to the AFL clash between the Western Bulldogs and the Gold Coast SUNS on Saturday, but before that happens, a rivalry between North and South Queensland needs to be sorted out.
At 1.40pm the ball will be bounced and North Queensland will crack in against South Queensland in a battle set to determine who holds supremacy in Queensland local footy for 2017.
Each lineup is packed with Queensland talent, leaving no shortage of electric matchups to watch closely, but one man in particular stands in the way of the South claiming this year’s throne and needs some extra scrutiny.
Port Douglas Croc, Kye Chapple, has bagged an astonishing 82 goals so far this season for the Crocs, including hauls of 11 and 7 in the past two weeks. In short, the big Croc has been snapping up goals at a considerable rate and looks like doing some serious damage for the boys from the North. So who goes to him from South Queensland?
South coach Danny Craven was keeping his cards held closely to his chest, but could reveal the strategy would involve a team defense with running players dropping back to ‘cut-off’ the big Croc’s supply.
“He’ll be a handful, so we’ve got to keep an eye out for him,” said Craven.
“We’ve got a few defensive options. Same as last year, our team defense was really good so he didn’t get as much supply as he normally would. I think that will be our objective this year again.”
Chapple may be the main target, but lurking around his feet fresh from a strong Under 17 state carnival, will be exciting goal sneak Fitzroy Greenwool. Should the South defense focus too much on the big North Queensland full forward, ‘Fitzy’ is more than capable of kicking a few snags.
Down South, youngsters Tommy Templeton and Jai Fitzpatrick offer plenty of ex-factor, while old campaigners Ben Merrett and Daniel Dzufer will offer some composure early on in the contest.
Craven is expecting a tight, hotly contested game in the first few minutes, breaking up into a free running fast paced contest as it goes on.
“I think it’ll be a free flowing game, I think they’ve picked a running side. Probably so have we in that sense,” said Craven.
“It’ll be a quick game of footy.”
This time around the team lists look completely different and as Saturday approaches, both sides are dealing with the prospect of squaring off against a host of new faces.
“I think they’ve only got 6 of the 22 that played last year, so they’ve got a whole bunch of new faces. To a lesser degree so do we, we’ve got nine out of our 22,” said Craven.
“So there’ll be challenges as there is every year in rep programs from that point of view.”
Since 2014 when this series began, NQ hold a 2-1 lead, so it’s up to South Queensland to see whether they can travel to Cairns and square the ledger in the tropics.
The contest will be live streamed via the below link:
By Sean Melrose