AFL Cairns preliminary finals preview

Last Saturday’s Semi Finals saw Cairns Saints and North Cairns proceed to the 2012 Grand Finals in the Seniors and Reserves respectively – North Cairns in somewhat of different circumstances. 

Port Douglas Reserves finals campaign remains alive after they defeated South Cairns relatively easily in the 1st Semi Final.  The 59 point victory sees Port now meet with Cairns Saints in the Preliminary Final.

2012 Reserve grade leading goal kicker Jason Wilkie was again exceptional in front of goal, adding 7 to his 100 for the home and away season.  Charlie Williams kicked 3 and Jack Lowe and Chaseley Nandy 2 each.  Hayden Bogicevic was named Crocs best, along with Jacob Pearce and Kaine Freyling. 

The 8 goal first term undoubtedly set up the win for the Crocs.  They lead by 43 points at quarter time and despite South Cairns ability to almost match the Crocs in every other quarter, they just couldn’t peg the margin back to get themselves back into the game.

The Seniors 1st Semi Final between Manunda Hawks and South Cairns again saw South Cairns bow out of finals contention, the reigning Premiers defeating the Cutters by 77 points in hot conditions. 

Melbourne based fly-in, fly-out player Tim Churchin earned his airfare for the Hawks, kicking 9 and looking unstoppable up forward.  Michael D’Arcy kicked 3 and Phil Driese, along with taking an absolute ‘speckie’ of a mark that saw him hang in the air for what seemed like minutes, kicked 2.  Along with Churchin, Lincoln Withers was among Hawks best, along with Willy Aisi and Nathan Bradbury. 

While the northerly breeze at Cazalys Stadium didn’t have the impact it can be known for in September, Manunda Hawks were still able to establish a solid first half lead that Souths, similarly to in the Reserves, were just unable to peg back. 

South Cairns did however finish strongly and actually won the final term on the scoreboard but the victory was already in the bag for the Hawks, who would have already had Preliminary Final on their minds. 

Cutter Adam Jones kicked 4 goals, while Caleb Howell kicked 2.  Billy English was named Cutters best, along with Tristain Keilar and David Downes.

In the 2nd Semi Final, Cairns Saints were too strong for North Cairns Tigers, despite a close first quarter and Saints proceeded to the Grand Final with ease.

  The Tigers couldn’t match the pace, intensity or skill level of Saints after the first term and were restricted to just one goal in the second quarter, two in the third term and none in the final term, allowing them just 6 majors for the day. 

They need to score more than that to be competitive in finals footy, particularly given Nick Gill and Matthew Walsh are kicking 10 and 8 off their own boots respectively for Saints. 

Congratulations to Nick Gill on reaching his 100 goals for the season and whilst it wasn’t within the home and away season it is a massive feat for any footballers and an even bigger feat for a Club to have 2 players achieve the accolade in the one season. 

Ricky Allan kicked 5 goals and Alex Macqueen 2.  Along with Walsh and Gill, Jesse Dixon was Saints best, with his centre clearance work brilliant all match and included a sensational goal in the final term from being at the base of a ruck tap. 

North Cairns shared the goal kicking duties with no multiple goal kickers, while coach Kane Richter, Josh Marriott and Adam Mueller for named Tigers best.

In the final Semi Finals match, Cairns Saints met with North Cairns in the Reserves 2nd Semi Final.  From the outset Saints appeared in control and it looked clinical that they would progress to the Grand Final in both grades. 

Saints held a 28 point lead at the main break, which they extended to 39 points at the last change.  So to lose by 2 points in the end was a complete shock and the result of 19 players on the field at the commencement of the final term. 

As per the Laws of Australian Football, too many players on the field results in the teams score being annulled to 0, which occurred.  Saints still managed 6 majors in the final quarter and almost won the match anyway but the clock was against them in the end. 

Undoubtedly a difficult way to lose a game and full credit to Cairns Saint for acknowledging the error and moving on.  They will certainly look to bounce back in today’s Preliminary Final and secure their spot in the Grand Final.  However, Port Douglas will obviously have differing ideas.

Onto today’s matches and hopefully some closer results than the Semi Finals produced.  After the Reserves match between Cairns Saints and Port Douglas, the Senior Preliminary Final sees North Cairns meet with Manunda Hawks.  Will it be the Tigers that roar or the Hawks that fly?  Two close matches should unfold. 

In the seniors Preliminary Final, North Cairns will be looking to bounce back after a comprehensive defeat against the all-conquering Cairns Saints.

In this elimination final, North Cairns will be hoping for a display in which got them over the line convincingly against Hawks back in round 20 a few weeks back. Key players for North Cairns will include; Adam Mueller, Playing Coach Kane Richter, attacking on-baller Tom Clough with veteran Chris Jorgensen to create an imposing figure up forward.

Coming off a strong win against South Cairns, Manunda Hawks are buoyed with confidence and remain positive about going back to back. Hawks will need to jump out of the block early if they are any chance. Big games are needed by regular performers; Churchin, Withers, Driese and Martin if they are to progress to the final weekend in season 2012.

In the Reserve grade Preliminary Final, Cairns Saints enter this match with a point to prove after going down to North Cairns in a narrow victory. Saints still have the confidence knowing their game plan and structures didn’t let them down last week. Key players for Saints include, forward Ben Swards, hard at it on baller Ben Sullivan, Cameron Byrne and Nathan Ryan.

For Port Douglas, goal kicking machine Wilkie is key for Port Douglas, with pace setters Kerrod Andrews and Chaseley Nandy important in moving the footy past the experienced campaigners in Saints. Teen sensation Charlie Williams is vital for linking Ports midfielders with key forwards. Down back Port will rely on Max Petrack and lasts weeks standout Hayden Bogicevic.

Live score updates for all these games can be followed on Twitter @AFLNorthQld

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