Coolangatta play their first match of the Pineapple Hotel Cup season with an away match against Wilston-Grange in Brisbane on Saturday. The highlight match is up on the Sunshine Coast where Noosa take on Burleigh in a rematch of last season’s preliminary finalists. Elsewhere, Sandgate host Springwood, and there are two matches on the Gold Coast – Palm Beach-Currumbin against Western Magpies and Surfers Paradise against Maroochy-Northshore.
By Terry Wilson
Noosa v Burleigh
At Weyba Road Oval, 2pm Saturday
PREMIERS Noosa must overcome a tough slog in the wet against a very good opposition last weekend to get over another Gold Coast rival Burleigh on Saturday.
The Tigers, who edged Palm Beach-Currumbin in a bog, front up to Burleigh at Weyba Road and skipper Adam Bovalino is worried about the fatigue factor kicking in.
Especially against a renowned physical unit in Burleigh, he says.
“For sure we have to respect them,” said the veteran defender.
“I’m into my fifth season here and every time against Burleigh you know you’ve been in a game.
“They are very passionate and we’re going to have our work cut coming off a hard one against Palm Beach.”
Yet recent history suggests Noosa should get the better of the Bombers again.
The last time Burleigh beat Noosa on the Sunshine Coast was in 2007.
Since then, Noosa have won four times in their back yard, three at Weyba Road and the fourth in last year’s preliminary final played at Fisherman’s Road.
It was that five-point loss that has Burleigh coach Zane Doubleday confident of a bold showing this weekend.
“That’s definitely the most positive way to look at it,” said Doubleday.
“Yet I suppose to have Noosa away in round two, it’s a good opportunity to see where the side is at, as far as all the work done in the pre-season.
“With the new players we’ve got it’s a completely different one to the side that faced off against them in the prelim.”
At team selection, both sides have been forced into changes.
Noosa have lost warhorse ruckman Peter Trompf with a dislocated thumb and defender Todd Panoho is unavailable.
Back-up ruckman Steve Simpson takes over from Trompf and recruit Chris McGuigan has been promoted from the seconds.
A midfielder, McGuigan has won a best and fairest with Golden Point in the Ballarat League.
Burleigh have recalled veteran Aaron Pianta, who is back in harness after insisting late last year that he was retiring.
The Bomber games played record-holder will likely start up forward after being named to replace defender Aaron Axelby.
With new forwards Danny Brewster and Dayne Frew in the side, Noosa have plenty of key forward firepower to trouble the Burleigh defence which, Doubleday admitted, be difficult for his players to cover, specially with Tom Sutherland still working overseas.
A sobering message came from Bovalino, who rates Noosa just as strong as last year despite losing some key performers such as Greg Page and James Brain.
“We’ve got Owen Bailey and Travis Mills from Maroochydore and Brewster and Frew add some firepower up forwards,” he said. “We were lacking a bit there last year.”
“We’ve lost some handy players but I believe we’ve covered for them pretty well.”
Wilston-Grange v Coolangatta
At Hickey Park, 1pm Saturday
NEW Wilston-Grange coach David Martin admits he knows ‘zilch’ about Coolangatta, who travel to Hickey Park to tackle the Gorillas on Saturday.
Apart from not being involved in the AFLQ’s premier division scene for some years, Martin has not seen Coolangatta this season.
And he has no paper form as a guide either, because the Blues had the bye in round one.
“So I know nothing, not a thing about them,” said Martin, who steered the Gorillas to an upset first-round win over neighbours Sandgate last weekend.
Asked if he was battling to keep the lid on things at Hickey Park after the success against the Hawks, Martin replied: “I think the boys were a bit buggered early in the week , but they seem to have freshened up since then.”
In the Grange’s favour is a handy early-season draw, with three games at home and a bye over the first four weeks.
There are two changes in the named Grange side. Anthony Penny and Chris Jahnke are both out injured, replaced by Sam Mitchell and Shaun Myors.
Coolangatta, who were well off the pace last season, also have a new coach in Neil McKay, who heads the Palm Beach-Currumbin High’s Aussie rules school of excellence and was a former premiership coach of the Gold Coast Stingrays under-18 side.
McKay has inherited a side that includes quality recruits in Sam and Chris Carins. Chris is a former Mt Gravatt star who played VFL for Tasmania.
other new faces for the Blues include Victorian pair Jake Byrush (an on-baller) and forward Rick Whitehead.
McKay has lured Tom Thurwood over from his old junior club Palm Beach.
And the Blues also elevated under-18s D’Arcy Fitzgerald, Ryan McCabe and Daniel Cossar for their seniors debuts.
“We’re set to field a side containing about only a third of last year’s seniors,” aid McKay.
Sandgate v Springwood
At Lemke Road Oval, 2pm Saturday
IT will be a wary Sandgate that lines up against underdogs Springwood at Lemke Road on Saturday.
Hurting from their surprise demise at the hands of Wilston-Grange last weekend, the Hawks front up to another danger game against the improving Springwood Pumas – and they have to do it without some key performers.
One is super veteran Danny Dickfos, out for a week or two with a damaged shoulder.
Another loss is midfielder/forward Ben Drew (calf). Drew is set to miss four to six weeks with his injury.
Also out is on-baller David Scott with hamstring soreness.
The Hawks have brought back grand final pair Trent Morrissey and Rohan Moody, as well as promoting Shane Etherington for his first seniors game for the club.
Etherington is a former Kenwood forward who has only three seasons of Aussie rules under his best but who is a player Long has high hopes for.
“We have to get back on the familiar winning path after last weekend,” said player-coach Ben Long.
“Our primary goal is to put last weekend out of the memory bank and start again.”
Springwood get a huge boost with the return of skipper and on-ball star Shane Murrihy.
And adding much-needed experience could be forward Aaron Richardson, who spent much of last season out injured.
The Pumas, according to football manager Adrian Wallin, are expecting a renewed Sandgate to run out against them.
“I think they will have been woken up by last weekend’s result,” he said.
Palm Beach-Currumbin v Western Magpies
At Salk Oval, 2pm Saturday
TAKE out last weekend’s round-one win and the last time the Western Magpies tasted success was over Saturday’s rivals Palm Beach-Currumbin – and that drought spanned two seasons.
It was the 2008 grand final which the Magpies won by two points after a stunning comeback.
“I well remember that because I was coaching reserve grade at that stage,’ noted current Magpies coach Peter McClennan.
That slice of history adds something to Saturday’s clash in the Lions den at Salk Oval.
And PBC coach Craig O’Brien, in charge on that September 2008 afternoon, is happy to have the Maggies back.
“It’s good for the competition that they’re back in because it gives us another strong club,” he said.
“For the past couple of seasons there have only been a couple of strong sides. Now there are about five or six who can win.
“Almost every game is a hard one now.”
O’Brien, who insists we will not see the best o the Lions until after the Easter break, promoted ex-Redland player Stu Vimpani, super veteran Brett Ziedler and midfielder Darryl Dyson.
Out are central defenders Scott Vis (hip)and Chris Williams (shoulder), while Blake Schneider is overseas.
Minus Williams and Vis, the Lions have defensive options in James Drake, Ben Walters and Damien Lyon.
For the Magpies, they have several of their players coming back from Brisbane Lions reserves duties.
Coach McClennan included Scott Clarke, Conrad Hutchins and Jack Parkes as started against PBC.
McClennan said that apart from the unavailable Richard Wenham, the Magpies are as close to full strength as possible for the tough assignment at Currumbin creekside.
Surfers Paradise v Maroochy-Northshore
At Sir Bruce Small Park, 2pm Saturday
THE Surfers Paradise selection panel has turned the clock back more than a decade by promoting a young player to seniors for the clash against Maroochy-Northshore at Small Park on Saturday.
Bronson Durack is one of two changes made by the Demons for their second-round engagement.
Bronson is the son of the club’s last premiership coach Brian, who steered Surfers to the 1998 GCAFL flag.
Durack Jnr is joined in the Surfers seniors by Brody Haberfield, a former under-age champion who was Gold Coast Junior AFL player o the year three seasons ago.
The youngsters replace ruckman Matt Goonan (groin) and the omitted Luke Richards.
The two additions add some pace to the midfield.
It was a circumspect coach Rob Martin who said his side was fortunate to get out of jail with a one-point win over Springwood last weekend.
“My boys have trained pretty hard this week,” said Martin. “They know they were lucky to get over Springwood last weekend.”
Up on the Sunshine Coast, the mood in the Maroochy camp remains positive as the Roos search for ways to overcome a major talent drain in the off-season.
They have lost Jacob Osbeiston, but are confident Jesse Goldfinch will play despite shoulder concerns. Goldfinch trained on Thursday night.
President Craig Scrase conceded this was a tough road trip for his inexperienced side, but remains confident.
“At least in the ones we’ll take it up to them,” he said. “They showed some fight and spirit against the Magpies last weekend and that’s what we’re looking for.”