By Mark Perriman
The pillars of friendly competition – respect and passion – will be on show tomorrow when the Coolangatta Bluebirds take on the Zillmere Eagles.
Billed as the first ‘Battle of the Birds’, the match sees the league leading Eagles face a stern test away from home against the up-and-coming southern force.
In contrast to many rivalries, the genesis of the ‘Battle of the Birds’ has been manufactured upon similarities and respect rather than bad blood.
Despite their common mascots, Zillmere coach, Jacob Simmons-Bliss notes that things extend beyond the superficial, with friendship and mutual respect underscoring the relationship between the two sides.
“There is a great friendship between the sides,” he says.
“Friends verse friends; mates against mates.”
And it is this message of respect that has been echoed by his opposing coach, Coolangatta’s Leah Kaslar from the Bluebirds admits that high regard from Zillmere is a great compliment for what she still regards as a developing team.
“At least half are new to the game, from different sporting backgrounds,” she says.
“It’s a real credit to the girls and how they are carrying themselves.”
However, with a four points and bragging rights up for grabs, warm relations will inevitably be put on ice, albeit momentarily.
Despite sitting on top of the ladder, nobody can accuse Zillmere coach Jacob Simmons-Bliss of complacency.
Whilst experience is always beneficial, Simmons-Bliss knows his team is in for a contest, given the opposition’s recent narrow 3-goal loss to two-time premiers Yeronga.
“I know their side very well, and know what they are capable of,” says Simmons-Bliss.
“It’s our toughest game of the year.”
However, as luck would have it, injuries have marred preparations for each side.
Whereas Simmons-Bliss admits that he will be blooding some new players into his ‘medium-strength’ side, Kaslar feels Coolangatta are equipped to cover their losses.
“We have a few new recruits, so there is some depth to the side,” she suggests.
Given the form of each side coming into the game, the match should prove to be a hard-fought contest.
With each coach naturally tipping their respective side, Kaslar is confident that recent defensive improvements will get the Bluebirds over the line in an upset.
“We definitely see ourselves as the underdogs,” she said.
“Zillmere definitely have the experience on their side.”
2014 QWAFL – Round 6
Yeronga vs. Griffith Moorooka: Saturday 31 May, 4PM. Leyshon Park
Mid-table Yeronga will look to keep within a game of top spot when they faceoff against bottom-placed Griffith on Saturday. The home side will look to continue to build upon their strong 18-point victory over ladder-rivals Coolangatta. Griffith will be out to inflict the first of the weekend’s upsets.
Coorparoo vs. UQ: Sunday June 1, 10AM, Giffin Park
Second place Cooparoo take on the Lionesses at home on Sunday afternoon. Coming off the bye, the Kangaroos will be fresh and looking for a percentage-boosting win in their quest for top spot. Form-wise, UQ will be out to spring an almighty upset, as they see to make amends for their previous showing against league-leaders Zillmere.
Wilston – Bye.