Fight for top spot heats up

THE threatened big chop never eventuated at Palm Beach-Currumbin this week, but it is understood players have been put on standby that half-hearted efforts will no longer be tolerated.

By Terry Wilson
Gold Coast Bulletin

THE LIONS, who play ladder leaders Western Magpies at Chelmer in Brisbane today, have only four changes, two of them forced by injury.

More were expected in the wake of coach Daryn Cresswell’s stunning blast after the Lions lost to Noosa and when the ex-Swan labeled the performance as the softest he had seen.

Perhaps it was injury that prevented mass sackings. Jackson Emblem (ankle) and Jake Smart (finger) are the medical concerns while veteran Brent Rynehart and Bryce Dyer were omitted.

Into the side are Bryce Perry-Bolt, Jordan Bates, Luke Sicka and Jack Munro.

Captain Darryl Dyson confirmed a tell-all meeting had been held on Tuesday night when a few home truths were exposed.

Asked how players reacted to Cresswell’s blast after the Noosa fadeout, Dyson said: “It (the spray) was expected because most players know the effort put in was pretty insipid.

“The truth was expressed and it was expressed in no uncertain terms.”

The Lions may be getting the Magpies at the right time, though, with the ladder leaders missing eight regular seniors through a variety of reasons.

Key players Jim Rozynski, Ed McDonnell and Chris McClennan have been joined by Matt Dillon, Reid Dobson, Tim McEvoy, Will Fozard and Lachlan Woods-Honour as absentees this round.

Still, there is plenty of depth at the club and it will be interesting to see what happens if PBC can’t take the points back down the M1 late in the afternoon.

“We have a wedding on and some of our regular seniors will be playing reserves,” said Coach Peter McClennan. “We have others injured as well.

“But we’re all good. We have some players coming back in, including Scott Clarke and Conrad Hudghton.

“Our challenge in all grades has not changed. Whoever we put on the paddock we want to win.”

When the sides last clashed in round five at Salk Oval, the Lions smashed the Magpies in the first half, but the Magpies reversed proceedings after half-time and won by 29 points.

It was a performance that led to questions being asked about PBC and the side’s ability to handle pressure as they failed to do last round when beaten at home by Noosa.

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NOOSA warhorse Brett Duke will become only the third player to reach the 200-games milestone at the club when he runs out on to Weyba Road on Saturday for the clash against Burleigh.

A week after Captain Adam Bovalino chalked up 100 games in Tiger colours; Duke will join other Noosa legends Aaron Jaques and Warren Bunny to achieve the honor.

It has been a long haul for Duke, who has played for Noosa all his footy life apart from 2000 when he had a stint with Subiaco (WAFL) and in 2002 with South Warrnambool.

Nicknamed “Angel”  his twin brother is tagged “Evil”  Duke says the highlights of his career were Noosa’s premierships in 2010 and again last year when he was named Ray Poulter Medallist for best on ground in the grand final against Palm Beach-Currumbin.

Duke had previously missed flag glory with Noosa in 1999 when the drew with, then lost to, Redland Bay in the old Brisbane Australian Football League.

The big utility said he hopes to play on for a few more years, but doubts if he will; get to 300 games, although a rival for the past few seasons has given hi9m some hope.

“Danny Dickfos gave me some inspiration when he was running around last year, so you never know about the 300,” he said. “But that may be a bit too far.”

Another key moment for Noosa will be the honoring of wheelchair-bound fan Curtis Walsh, after whom a perpetual trophy has been struck.

For the Burleigh clash, Noosa have had to replace ruckman Peter Trompf with Steve Simpson.

Burleigh coach Zane Doubleday does not believe heavy conditions will bring Noosa back a peg or two.

“That’s because they play good, hard footy in any conditions,” he said.

“Our boys were a little bit in awe of them the last time we played because they were so well organized.

“But we’re going up there to be competitive against them on their home ground.’”

Nick O’Reilly returns to the Bombers in a key selection gain.

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SURFERS Paradise embarks on a season-defining month of fixtures that will either set up or a dash a finals appearance by the club.

Heading into today’s match away to Maroochydore at Fisherman’s Road, the Demons face a program comprising of Palm Beach-Currumbin (away), Springwood (away) and Noosa (home).

“So the next four weeks will make us or break us,” coach Beau Zorko said.

For the trip to the Sunshine Coast, the Demons regain Jacob Clark, Jesse Haberfield and Darcy Dienjes, who are in for James McNamara (Gold Coast Suns), Clint Cassidy (broken foot) and Kris Rizzo (one-match suspension).

The Demons are fifth on the ladder, with a game against Springwood to make up,

“It’s just a matter of winning games,” Zorko said.

The Demons can expect a heavy field when they arrive, given the amount of rain over the past week, and Maroochydore coach Roger Delaney said heavy use of the ground for the state under-14 carnival had not made conditions any better.

But, for once, the Roos have only one change, bringing in one under-18, Matt Allman, for another under-18, Damon Chapman.

“One change is very unusual for us,” Delaney said, hoping for another competitive, if not winning, effort.

“Last week against Wilston-Grange we played well, but they got away from us in a couple of patches.”

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SANDGATE should keep their fading finals hopes alive when they play struggling Coolangatta at Lemke Road Oval.

The usual merry-go-round of playing personnel continued at the Hawks, who have lost Rowan Moody (work) and Mark Leddy (concussion) and omitted Jordan Fuller.

Back in the green and red are Sean Cornish, Dan Dai and Michael McCoy.

Playing Coach Ben Long said the played have had a serious think tank about where they are at in terms of their season.

“We talked about the position we’re in and it’s obvious we’re going to need a pretty healthy percentage, to play four consistent quarters and be consistent,” Long said.

“Every game in front of us we need to win to stay in the race for the finals.”

MAYNE come up against a rejuvenated Springwood in a vital game for the Tigers if they are to have any chance of making the finals.

The Pumas have shifted up a gear over the past couple of rounds with the inclusion of some talented players from Mt Gravatt, this week the experienced Greg Friis joins their lineup.

Mayne Coach Mitch Ferguson is happy with the way the team is shaping up, “we will field a reasonable team and I’m looking for a good performance from them, we have just fallen short on a couple of occasions against teams above us on the ladder and we need to step up.”

The Tigers will be playing a young first game player who will be the first to have graduated from the Everton Wolves on the wing this weekend.

“It’s great to see a kid come through the system and earn his place in the Seniors,” said Ferguson, “we hope he is the first of many.”

This should be a close contest with the Tigers starting favorites.

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