Community footy writer, Beth Newman, goes through everything you need to know ahead of this weekend’s AP Cup finals.
QUALIFYING FINAL: PALM BEACH v MAGPIES
The Lions and Magpies have split the honours this season. Their first match up went well and truly in Palm Beach’s favour, with the Lions running out 22.20 (152) – 15.8 (98) winners. It is the Magpies who have the most recent bragging rights, beating the Lions by seven points at Salk Oval in Round 13. They have some good finals history too, having played off in last year’s decider. No doubt there will be plenty of motivation for both sides tomorrow.
There’s plenty to choose from, but you can’t really go past their captain Angus Munro. Whether he goes into defence or in the middle, Munro is the centrepiece of the Lions and provides incredible leadership as well.
It’s hard to go past Jimmy Rozynski in a relatively star-studded line up for the Magpies. He’s hard to miss and is one of the side’s most influential players, with the ability to change games playing off the half-back flank or through the middle.
Bryce Perry-Bolt is the major X-factor for the Lions. In his return game, he kicked four goals and adds incredible potency to their forward line, helping shoulder the load of spearhead, Nathan Carr.
Youngster Brady Allen has been a surprise packet this season. Allen has kicked bags of eight and seven and has earned himself a spot in the finals. If he can cope with the Lions’ suffocating defensive pressure, he could be a game-changer.
Across the ground:
The Magpies could lay claim to the best midfield in the competition, but the Lions are not far off. Palm Beach’s real strength is in their rebounding ability off half-back, through guys like Jesse Derrick, Angus Munro and Jackson Emblem. Probably the biggest challenge for the Lions will be kicking straight – the Magpies have some incredibly strong converters in the forward line and Palm Beach have butchered opportunities throughout the season. That will be the major test for them, in finals pressure.
It realistically could go either way, but I think Palm Beach will just get the edge on the Magpies, and set up a semi at Lowe Oval next weekend.
ELIMINATION FINAL: SURFERS v GRANGE
Surfers and Grange have played two starkly contrasting matches this season. A gritty battle at Sunlinc Oval in Round 5 saw Grange run over the top of the Demons and take a narrow win. In Simon Fenton’s 250th, the Demons walked all over a depleted Grange side, winning by 80 points. They faced off in an elimination final at Surfers last year and the Demons ran out clear winners, ending the Gorillas’ 2012 campaign.
Demon coach, Beau Zorko, reckons Ryan Dienjes is the best player in the competition, and it’s hard not to think he’s at least close. At only 22, Dienjes is the Demons’ most important player and it’s his versatility, which makes him so damaging. Zorko can throw him forward, back, or through the middle.
It’s a pretty clear-cut choice when talking about Grange’s superstars. Steve Brittain missed four games with appendicitis and is still pretty much their best player every week. There is no doubt that if Grange win on Sunday, Brittain will have a blinder.
Jimmy Nancarrow has been a consistent contributor for the Demons this season. He’s played every game and has been around the best in the majority. Playing on the wing this weekend, a super game from Nancarrow could be a game changer for the Demons.
The Gorillas’ talls will be their key against Surfers’ run and big man Ben Haire could have the biggest say of all. Haire can play key forward and also support Jim McMahon in the ruck, in one of the best ruck teams in the competition. His influence will be massive against Surfers, who lack that height, on Sunday.
Across the ground:
These two sides could not be more different. Surfers love to run, run, run while Grange’s big men are heavy into creating marking contests and more of the tough stuff. Aleks Mathewson in the backline was super against Mayne a fortnight ago and his battle with Trent McIntyre is crucial there. Grange are strong in and under, while Surfers loves the clean ball, and struggled with defensive early in the season, but have certainly improved. If the Demons can get clean possession in the middle, they have the Gorillas covered for pace. They don’t necessarily have the tall timber in the forward line, so they’ll need their smaller forwards to be on song.
In a battle between Surfers’ run vs. the Gorillas’ grabs, on their home turf the Demons win. Just.