MATCH OF THE ROUND
UQ VS WILSTON GRANGE
Saturday April 18, 2:00pm, Oval 7 – St Lucia
Footy is finally back in 2015 for Queensland’s female footballer’s, with the QWAFL competition kicking off this Saturday.
The great thing about round 1 is everyone starts with a clean slate. All teams begin the year with the same record, nothing from last season matters and there is plenty of opportunity for new contenders to emerge and stake their claim as top dog.
And if the predictions of the seven QWAFL coaches are anything to go by, the 2015 season is shaping up to be the closest in the competitions history.
UQ and Wilston Grange take the honours for the season opener, with the Red Lionesses playing host to the Gorillas at St Lucia this Saturday. It was a tough year for UQ in 2014, recording just three wins to finish sixth on the table, well out of finals contention.
However, now in their third season of the QWAFL, Red Lionesses head coach, Michael Swann, believes the UQ girls are ready to ruffle some feathers in 2015.
“I think we are seen as underrated and the other teams see us as the developing club,” Swann said.
“I don’t think many teams have payed attention to what we have been doing in the offseason, but I think we might surprise a few people this year.
“The main goal is to improve and obviously enjoy the game, but I think finals is a realistic goal and I think this week against Grange is a good opportunity to gauge where we are at.”
After finishing in four place last year with a mediocre 6-8 record, Wilston Grange coach, Ron Kemp, believes the Gorillas will be more of a force in 2015 after a strong pre-season.
“We didn’t get a good pre-season in last year and that probably hurt us, but this year we are much more settled,” Kemp said.
“We put some good work in prior to Christmas with our fitness and defence, and I expect that to pay dividends.”
When asked about this weekends clash with UQ, Kemp didn’t shy away from what he expected his playing group to achieve.
“My expectation is to win,” he said.
“UQ are a very good developing side with some very skilful, tall and tough girls so we are expecting a tough contest but I believe we can get over the top of them.”
COOLANGATTA vs. COORPAROO
Saturday April 18, 4:45pm, Peak Oval
The reigning QWAFL champs will travel to Peak Oval to face a revamped Coolangatta outfit this Saturday in what is sure to be a very interesting contest.
The Navy Roos tore through the competition last season, dropping just one game in the regular season to Zillmere on their way to a dominant QWAFL Premiership.
Coolangatta on the other hand won just four games and finished a disappointing fifth in 2014, missing out on finals football.
On paper, even on the road, you would mark this down as a win for the defending champs. But football games aren’t won on paper.
There have been big changes at both clubs throughout the offseason that will potentially see the top dogs become the underdogs this Saturday.
Coorparoo’s list is nearly unrecognisable from last year, welcoming 11 new faces and losing five key premiership players from 2014.
Newly appointed Coorparoo coach, Bernie Cantrell, admitted he is hoping for the best come Saturday after a slew of list changes at the club.
“I’ve had to strip back training due to the huge influx of girls we’ve had come to the club,” Cantrell said.
“A lot of our new girls are still learning the game, we played the majority of them in the gala and they are slowly learning, but there are still ways to go.
“We have our eyes and minds set on finals footy later on, but for now it’s more about the development of the newer girls and gelling the playing group.
“I’ve had about 7 girls pull out this week for various reasons, so I’m just hoping we are competitive, Cooly are going to be really tough.”
Cantrell isn’t the only QWAFL coach who believes the Bluebirds are going to be stiff competition this season, the collective agreement between QWAFL coaches is that Coolangatta are the team to beat in 2015.
New Coolangatta coach, Aaron Russell, was frank in his assessment of Coorparoo, believing his group has what it takes to shutdown the defending premiers.
“We respect Coorparoo as a team but we definitely aren’t afraid of them,” Russell said.
“We are playing a team that realistically weren’t challenged last year, they really did coast through the whole season.
“We are really excited to be playing at home and we are confident that our preparation and really, really good depth will be the difference.
“It’s definitely a focus that we are playing to win this year, we want to bring that winning culture to the club.”
GRIFFITH MOOROOKA vs. ZILLMERE
Saturday April 18, 4:45pm, Alexander Park
Griffith Moorooka will be looking to improve on last season’s wooden spoon effort when they take on Zillmere this Saturday at Alexander Park.
It was a rough year for the Roosters in 2014, who nabbed just two victories in an otherwise forgetful season.
The addition of Rebecca McInnes from the South Toowoomba Bombers will help bolster the Roosters stocks, however the focus is still on improving talent and bridging the gap according to new coach, Glen Hoggets.
“We are just looking for the effort and improvement from the girls as we try to bridge the gap between the top teams,” Hoggets said.
“We will see where we are at this week against Zillmere and then I would like to see that gap closed next time we play them, that is the goal for me.
“You never know what might happen on the day, but I’m not going into the game with wild expectations, I just want to see the girls implement what we have been teaching and put in four solid quarters.”
Although the Roosters will have the home ground advantage on the weekend, Zillmere will start the game favourites after a cracking 2014 and solid offseason.
The Eagles nearly went all the way in 2014, just getting edged out by Coorparoo in the decider by 33-points.
Zillmere have stepped up their game during pre-season however, focusing heavily on a new high-performance program to have the best chance at taking all the marbles in 2015.
Eagles coach, Jacob Simmons-Bliss, didn’t beat around the bush about the club’s goal this year, believing all the hard work off the field will pay dividends throughout the season.
“We definitely aren’t going to shy away from the fact that we are gunning for a premiership,” Simmons-Bliss said.
“We have bolstered our coaching stocks, invested heavily in a high performance program and put specific focus on physical performance and remaining compliant to the game plan.
“We firmly believe that if we continue to work the way we have and remain dedicated to our strategies, the scoreboard will sort itself out and we will be in for a very good year.”
BYE – YERONGA
By Grant Hitzman – @granthitzman