By Beth Newman
Coolangatta will be focusing on an often overlooked ‘f’ word tomorrow.
While they may be out of finals, the Blues will be looking to maximise the fun of footy, in their clash against UQ at Oval 7.
With an up and down season so far, Hawkins said his focus had firmly shifted to the long-term and the enjoyment factor of footy.
“We want everyone to be having fun,” he said.
“There’s no point ranting and raving at this time of the year and we try and make it as fun now and keep involved with all the footy.”
That being said, Hawkins said he was well aware of the significance of a win for his side in boosting morale.
“[Winning] is probably more important now than it has been,” he said.
“We need a few wins to keep the guys interested over the off-season.
“We’re out of the finals race, so all we’re playing for is wins at the moment.”
The Blues had to rely on a final quarter flourish in a come-from-behind win in the sides’ last match-up, but Hawkins said they wouldn’t be waiting until the last quarter to stamp their authority on the game tomorrow.
“We’ve got to shut them out early. If we give them a sniff, they’ll be in it all day, which is what happened last time.”
“With a young side like that, if we let them in they’ll be hanging in there all afternoon.”
Meanwhile, the Red Lions are taking all their lessons out of that clash to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
With their final quarter fade-out from that clash in the back of their minds, the Red Lions are eager to prove themselves against the Blues at Oval 7.
Fielding a vastly different side to their last meeting, UQ coach, Matt Stewart, said his side would be keen to get an idea of how much they’ve improved since early in the season.
“It’s a really good chance to see how we’ve improved and where we’re at,” he said.
“We learnt a good lesson the last time we played and we know we will have to play four quarters to win.”
The Red Lions welcome Louis Straker back into their side, while Will Kiel is unavailable.
With conditions shaping up to be decidedly average for footy tomorrow, both sides will be focused on winning contested possessions in the match.
Stewart said his side had been focusing on that contested side of the game, knowing that Coolangatta were strong in that area last time.
“Last time they played Cooly, they were hard at it contested ball so it’s been a focus this week,” he said.
“In the wet weather, you’re going to have to win contested football.
“Bottom line is the ball is going to be on the ground a fair bit.”
With all sides having played each other once, this weekend sees some mouth-watering match ups, based on the sides’ last meetings.
Heading the list is the blockbuster between Wilston Grange and Palm Beach.
The Gorillas are the only team to have bested the Lions this season, and the Gold Coasters are not likely to have forgotten that in the intervening weeks.
Wilston Grange will need to repeat that effort this weekend, to keep their hold on a top three spot, ahead of Surfers by an incredibly narrow percentage.
The Lions welcome ruckman Dean Shegog back into their side, after he was a late withdrawal against Sandgate, as well as classy mid Ben Heffernan-Roper.
Big gun, Steve Brittain, is back in the Gorillas’ side, in a massive boost for the home team.
Player-coach, Matt Trewhella, also returns from injury, a worrying sign for Plam Beach.
Trewhella caused a major headache for Palm Beach in their previous clash,m finishing with seven goals.
Both sides will be hungry for the win, with a tough final month until finals.
On the Sunshine Coast, it’s a do-or-die clash between Maroochydore and Sandgate.
Coming off an upset win over Wilston Grange last week, the Roos’ finals hopes still have a faint pulse.
And while Hawks coach, Rob Dickfos, has been reluctant to mention finals this season, a win against the Roos would keep them well and truly in the race for fifth spot.
Another fifth spot contender, Mayne, will have to continue its white-hot form against a top four side, Surfers.
The Demons can smell blood after their win over Coolangatta last weekend put them within reach of third spot, and another victory over the Tigers could see them leap frog Grange this weekend.
You can bet the Tigers won’t be lying down, though, after putting on a clinic against UQ last weekend.
Mayne welcomes Nic Aldridge into the side, starting on the bench, after an extended injury lay-off.
The Magpies are the team currently being pursued for that crucial fifth spot and they have a perfect opportunity to grab that spot against a young Noosa side at home.
The Sunny Coast side have shown an ability to grind teams down, though, and won’t be going down without a fight.
Looking to finish the year with some positives, Noosa will be desperate to prove themselves at Chelmer.
Wrapping up Round 12, Burleigh takes on Springwood, at Burleigh.
The Pumas will be hoping to take advantage of their good draw in the final five weeks of the season, starting with a win over the Bombers.
However, the home side are looking to salvage pride from their 2013 campaign and the Pumas should be wary of the Bombers in their clash.
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