By Beth Newman
Both Springwood and Palm Beach have solid defensive line ups, and their performance on Saturday will likely make the difference between winning and losing.
Springwood’s defence is not flooded with stars, but it has laid the foundations for their turnaround this season. The Pumas are a relatively offensively-minded side, but their defence has improved as the year has gone on and the back six had their best performances of the season in their major semi-final against the Magpies.
The big name
The Pumas don’t really have a big-name star in their back six, but Nick Tronc has been the standout in the side this season. Tronc has played all but one game this season and has impressed plenty.
Under the radar
Andrew Sponneck is probably not really under the radar anymore, after his brilliant job on Anthony Corrie a fortnight ago. Sponneck rolled his ankle in that game but with a week off he should be right this week and will have a tough job on one of the Lions’ keys.
Preston-Smith has played every game for the Pumas this season in their charge to the 2013 grand final. The 21 year-old has been super consistent and has been a key part of the side’s defence.
The Lions’ defence has been pretty stingy this year, but it’s their ability to punish oppositions with their run that has been their major strength. They’ve got a bit of height in their back line and a strong marking ability, cutting off their opponents’ attacking charges. One they get their hands on it, they’re not afraid to take the game on, with players like Jackson Emblem, Angus Munro and Matt Dillon all equipped with some handy pace.
The Big Name
Jackson Emblem has led the way for the Lions’ defence, playing at full back and centre half-back for most of the year. The hulking defender epitomises the strengths of the Lions’ back line army and plays with plenty of poise. He is close to the side’s most important player, with his ruthless counter-attack meaning he is doubly punishing for oppositions.
Under the radar
Derrick had a slow start to the season, but over the last six weeks, he has been among the side’s best. He was instrumental in last weekend’s preliminary final, playing on Anthony Corrie. The Lions stalwart plays in the shadow of some of the bigger names in his side, but he is one of their most reliable.
Thomas Thynne has been one of the rising stars of the Allied Pickfords Cup competition this year, playing mainly off the half-back flank. Thynne plays with plenty of composure for someone so young and was a rare high point in the Lions’ qualifying final loss three weeks ago. The kid can play.
Which back line is better?
I reckon Palm Beach has the best defence in the competition, with its ridiculous ability to counter attack as well as stop opposition forwards.