By Beth Newman
Whoever takes the chocolates at Sir Bruce Small Oval tomorrow will go a long way to sewing up a top-three spot and a double chance in finals.
So, it’s only fitting that both Surfers and Grange welcome some of their heavyweights back for one of their biggest games of the year.
Jason Torney and Jake Ryan will add invaluable experience to the Demons side, while Grange welcomes back star midfielder, Steve Brittain, and ruckman Ben Haire.
With two straight losses, to Maroochydore and Palm Beach, Grange has plenty at stake going into the match.
A third loss would make their longest losing run this year and put them back in the mid-ladder logjam with Mayne and the Magpies, their two next opponents.
Gorillas coach, Matt Trewhella, put it simply when discussing the significance of tomorrow’s match.
“We have to win, we don’t’ have a choice,” he said.
“The top-three chance is really important. But if we lose, it’s not going to make or break us for finals.”
The injection of Haire back into the Gorillas’ line up takes some pressure off Dan Collins up forward and provides a big forward target for the visitors tomorrow.
The addition of Haire’s size could be crucial for Grange, whose bigger bodies were crucial in their Rd 5 win over Surfers.
Trewhella said that win gave his side confidence heading into this weekend’s match, with a relatively similar side.
“Knowing that we can beat hem and knowing some of their weaknesses (helps),” he said.
We just need to work on our Inside 50s and our scoreboard pressure.
“We’ve held most goals to under goals, so we need kick more than 12 to win.”
Shutting down Demons spearhead, Trent McIntyre, will be high on the Gorillas’ priority list tomorrow, along with stopping the run of classy midfielders Ryan and Ryan Dienjes.
While the Gorillas have a lot to lose going into the Rd 13 clash, Surfers is certainly not lacking in motivation.
Demons coach, Beau Zorko, said the side had more than enough to play for in the match.
“We owe it to Noisy (Fenton) to win,” he said.
“It might sound cliché but for the loyalty he’s shown over the past few years, I really think a victory would be a fitting result.
“If that’s not motivation enough, then to really have a hold on third spot is very important for us.”
Zorko was frustrated with his side’s performance in their last match against Grange, which was one of their more disappointing efforts of the season, but said an increased focus on the defensive side of their game would make them a different proposition this time around.
“To be blunt we were very poor against Grange last time,” he said.
“We played far too much one way football and we weren’t our physical, aggressive selves and as a result, they put scoreboard pressure on that we weren’t able to peg back.
“We have certainly made a big focus on that two-way running and defensive element of our game since then.”
Surfers and Grange kicks off at 2:15pm at Sir Bruce Small Oval.
There’s plenty of other big-game action in the Allied Pickfords Cup, starting down at Coolangatta.
Maroochydore has a chance to keep their finals hopes alight with third straight win, over the Blues.
With wins against Sandgate and Grange in the past fortnight, the Roos will have plenty of confidence against Coolangatta, but the South coasters will be a tough proposition at Peak Oval.
On the Sunshine Coast, Mayne will be looking for its first win at Weyba Rd in recent memory.
A victory against Noosa and Mayne are well and truly in top five calculations, with matches against Palm Beach, Grange and the Magpies to round out their season.
It’s a grand final rematch at Salk Oval, when Palm Beach take on the Magpies.
The Lions have already bested the defending premiers once this season and will be desperate to do it again and maintain their standing on top of the Allied Pickfords Cup ladder.
The Magpies will have key stopper, Hayden Thick, back in their line-up, while the Lions welcome back Dean Shegog and Shane Hutchinson back into their side for the clash.
Sandgate takes on Burleigh at Lemke Rd and will look to claw back some respect after disappointing results in the last fortnight.
Renowned for their fight early this season, the Hawks have been inconsistent in recent outing s and will need to be on their toes against a Burleigh side that will be desperate for its first win.
One of the most intriguing matches of the weekend could be at Lowe Oval, where Springwood takes on UQ.
While the Pumas would be warm favourites, they will be missing big guns like Albert Proud for the match.
On the other hand, UQ will field one of their strongest sides in a while, with state U18 player, Lewis Radford, returning from injury and in-form midfielder, Michael Stewart, also lining up for the Red Lions for the first time since the bye.
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