BEAT Surfers Paradise on the road and the Wilston-Grange Gorillas would be on the cusp of clinching the Pineapple Hotel Cup minor premiership.
By Terry Wilson
That’s the scenario for season 2011’s big improvers with ladder leaders Sandgate idle courtesy of the round-13 bye – and top spot for the finals would be just what the doctor ordered for coach David Martin and his charges.
Sandgate have 40 points and the Grange are level with Western Magpies on 36 points, albeit with an inferior percentage to the Hawks.
So it is a crucial clash for the Gorillas – not to mention Surfers Paradise, who are still right in the race for a top-five finish.
The Demons are sixth on the ladder, level on points with Palm Beach-Currumbin but trailing the Lions because of a poor percentage.
“So they’re going to be desperate, aren’t they,” noted Martin of the situation.
“But it’s crucial for us as well. Obviously we’re keen to stick with the leaders and it would be good to be one of them, if that is the way it is to be.”
In a significant boost for the Grange, they get three of their top 10 list players back.
Captain Leigh Smith, half-back/midfielder Rohan Cash and ruckman James McMahon all return for the key fixture, taking over from relegated Lucas Theophanides, Warren Crisers and Dean Warren.
Because of the vagaries of the 2011 draw, this is the first time the Gorillas have tackled Surfers Paradise for premiership points (strangely, the sides clash again in round 18).
The only chance Martin has had to cast his eye over what the Demons possess was in a pre-season scratch match which the Demons won.
Adding to the importance of this clash is the fact the Gorillas have another bye coming up, so they’ll be desperate for the four points this weekend.
Surfers have made three changes to the side trounced by Noosa last weekend.
The Demons have lost Trent McIntyre for the rest of the season after he sustained a broken rib, a sliced kidney and a chest infection against Noosa.
Also out are Mark Sanford (general soreness) and the omitted Luke Richards.
The ins are pretty good. They are rover Jake Ryan, bustling big man Dan Green and Jake Tooma.
Ryan is back after illness and Green is playing his first seniors game of the year after a pre-season knee injury.
Both Ryan and Green played well in the reserves last weekend in their comeback matches.
“They are big ins and they certainly add to our midfield,” said coach Beau Zorko. “They give us some size and a bit more potency around the ball.”
Zorko said the opposition Surfers are in means the Demons have to win all of their five remaining games – although an upset loss or two from the sides immediately above them on the ladder would not hurt.
“Our destiny is in our own hands,” he conceded.
click here for round 13 team lists