MATCH OF THE ROUND
Wilston Grange vs. Palm Beach Currumbin
Saturday August 29, 2:00pm – Bendigo Bank Oval
Live blog from 1:45pm
I know the fixture says round 18, but this one should be marked ‘elimination final’.
With five rounds to go, Palm Beach had to win at least one game to ensure a finals’ spot.
That hasn’t happened yet, so this week is their final shot.
Having said that, they aren’t the only ones with a bit to play for. It’s a must win game for Wilston Grange too if they want to ensure a double chance, and a game against the Magpies next week.
“We have been playing these important games for a few weeks now, we just haven’t been able to get a win,” Palm Beach Coach Chad Owens said.
Despite the task ahead of them, Owens said they must go in with the conviction they can do it.
“We have still got to be confident, and play with the belief that you can win the game, and hang around long enough, which can make the top teams nervous,” he said.
Don’t expect the Lions to be unlocking the bi-fold doors to let the breeze in. They want this one as scrappy, and as closed off as possible.
“They are too fast for us, so we are going to have to make it an ugly game of footy,” Owens said.
“We have changed things up a bit with who we are starting in the middle this week, so we think we can stop them, it’s just a matter of whether we can do it for the full two hours.”
Wilston Grange was probably expecting to rest a few players this week, and hold a few cards to their chest before playing the Lions in an elimination final next week.
Uh-uh. Now they need to win to guarantee a double chance.
“It’s interesting because I would have liked to take a different approach to this game if we had our position sewn up, in terms of resting who I need to and giving some guys a look in, but we are treating this one like it’s a final,” Coach Matt Trewhella said.
“We have been speaking about that third spot for a long time, now it’s something we can control.”
Third is not the only reason they want to win though. Winning form is good form.
“We want to keep winning, it’s not just about third, it’s about winning, and playing teams like Palm Beach, who traditionally have had the wool over, beating them, and also using the advantage of our home ground,” he said.
Grange cannot afford to let the Lions get on top in the middle. That’s the power supply to their game.
“Their midfield is where it all starts, they have got some terrific players in there. The weather might suit some of those guys, especially Bryant; it’s about getting on top of them. I think our advantage will be our forward line tomorrow,” he said.
If you had any queries on how seriously the Gorillas are taking this one, the inclusions of Proud, Trewhella, Nixon-Smith, Penny and Watson should leave you with no doubts what so ever.
They will be without Percy, Williams and Leong though.
This is as big as round 18 gets. Two teams, both needing to win, who will leave nothing in the tank to do so. Batten down the hatches, a storm is brewing.
FOOTY RECORD: QAFL RECORD – RD 18 – WILSTON GRANGE V PALM BEACH
Broadbeach vs. Sandgate
Saturday August 29, 2:00pm – H&A Oval
Three weeks ago, you could have pretty much stuck a fork in Broadbeach; they were cooked.
All of a sudden, after last weeks upset, they have a must win game, which could just propel them into September.
If they win this week, and Palm Beach lose, they live to fight another day.
Their second half of the year has been a bit hot and cold, but the hot has been as good as anyone.
“It’s been coming for eight or nine weeks, this game. After Labrador, I think people thought it was a bit of a fluke. We had the Western Magpies and Grange after them, it was tough, but we were in those games,” Coach Brett Andrews said.
“After beating Morningside, I can see there is a bit of a steel in the eye now, and that on any given day, we can beat someone. But on the other side, on any given day, if we are off, we can get beaten by anyone.”
Andrews said they can’t think about anything else but Sandgate this week. They must be on from the start.
“If we are lazy against Sandgate, we are going no where, we have got to put it on them early. We have just got to take it on, and run them off their legs like we did last time,” he said.
There is a clear link between their pressure around the ball, and the games of footy they have won.
“If we can combine our running game with our pressure, we should be right in it,” Andrews said.
Sandgate will be up against it this week, but their best is more than capable. A win would cap off the year very nicely.
“It’s going to be tough to go back down there, but we are just going to give it our best shot, being the last game of the year,” Coach Graham Adams said.
“We started the year so well, but just can’t get a win on the back end of the season, so a win would be fantastic.”
Restricting the Cats’ run through the middle will be prioritised this week.
“I think they are a really good running side. Last time we played them they ran us off our feet, which is unusual. They are a good footy side, so we have to shut them down through the middle of the ground; that’s where their strength is,” he said.
The Hawks’ 22 is stacked with talented kids, but a few in particular get their first crack at playing in each others pockets this week.
“In our forward line this week we will have Rutledge, Lang and Stackelberg, which is the first time this year we will have the three of them together, which is really exciting.
Broadbeach will have to put this one away early, which they should do.
I think there might be a few people around the ground with the live blog of the Palm Beach game in their hot little hands as well. Bring on 4.30pm tomorrow.
FOOTY RECORD: QAFL RECORD – RD 18 – BROADBEACH V SANDGATE
Labrador vs. Mt Gravatt
Saturday August 29, 2:00pm – Cooke-Murphy Oval
This game in the grand scheme of things might not mean a lot, but there are a couple of important sub-stories to play out.
With a week off next week all but guaranteed for Labrador, they will be looking for a real solid hit out before they rest up and get right.
Labrador Coach Steve Daniel said it’s about finding the balance of having a solid hit out, and resting those that need a break.
“It is a tricky one, but it’s pretty much all hands on deck this week. We get Ryan Davey back, and will rest Jye Warren,” Daniel said.
“We are just looking forward to going out there on the weekend and finishing the year off on a good note, and then it all starts again in the following week.”
What you want this time of year, is good, solid footy. You don’t learn much from a belting.
“It is important to have a good hit out, and that’s what we got last weekend. At the moment, in my eyes, UQ are the best side outside the top five, on their ground they are playing like it. We had a real hard physical hit out. If we had of gone down and won by 15 goals, you don’t get much out of that,” he said.
“This week against Mt Gravatt I think we will get the same, they are playing some good footy at the moment, so we are more than happy with another competitive game this weekend.”
He knows that it all changes at the conclusion of this round, but believes the minor premiers are in good shape.
“Once you get into finals, it’s ugly footy most of the time because it’s full of pressure and mistakes, so we are hoping we are heading in the right direction,” Daniel said.
As for Mt Gravatt, there is no pressure on them this weekend, it’s all about having a crack, and hopefully, sending the year out with a major scalp.
“This is our last game, and we have been telling them you’re only as good as your last game. The message is to just go out, have a bit of fun, and see if we can knock off the top team, which would be nice,” Coach Brad Pollock said.
The Vultures can’t afford to play the game in a phone box. With the ball in hand, just like the third quarter last week, it’s about slowing it down, waiting for the right option, and then going.
“We are pretty young and lightly framed tomorrow. We will try and run as much as we can. I would like to see the boys play with a bit more poise, and control it a little bit more with this team, because if you rush too much, you make mistakes, and Labrador will punish you,” he said.
“Hopefully we can play some good footy, think through it, and go from there.”
The Vultures will be missing Estall, Licht and Boon through injury and Redland selection, but get back Crawley, Douge, and welcome Tim Menzies in for his first senior game of footy after a very strong year in the reserves.
Labrador may have an eye on the finals, but with a week off next week, it’ll be important for them to ramp it up tomorrow. They should win comfortably.
FOOTY RECORD: QAFL RECORD – RD 18 – LABRADOR V MT GRAVATT
Morningside vs. Surfers Paradise
Saturday August 29, 2:00pm – Jake Esplen Oval
Pride. Both teams will be playing for it, but in very different circumstances this week.
Morningside weren’t happy dropping not only a game to Broadbeach last week, but possibly a double chance. They will be looking to bounce back in a big way.
Surfers want to continue their good form, and finish the year off with their heads well and truly held high.
They can’t both get what they want though.
“I think we have reloaded. We haven’t spent too much time focusing on last week; we have spent the whole week focusing on us and what’s ahead of us,” Morningside Coach David Lake said.
“The starting point of momentum is tomorrow, which just happens to coincide with Doc’s 250th.”
Nick ‘Doc’ Tomlinson has been one of the best ever to pull on the red white and black.
The club will be doing everything in their power to make sure the five time premiership player gets chaired off in a win.
Lake knows that this week is no certainty. They must be on top of their game, both mentally and physically.
“Performance comes after attitude, not before. We need to make sure that our attitude is cherry-ripe, or teams beat you,” he said.
“Last week they showed what they are capable of. They are skillful, talented, and keen. It will be a very, very hard game to win.”
What will help is the inclusions of Russ, Nash and Spackman. Three key pillars in the Morningside post.
Surfers Paradise put in their best performance of 2015 to date last week when they piled on 15 unanswered goals against Palm Beach.
Now, it’s about continuing that.
“We want to try and finish the season on a real high. We trained really well this week,” Coach Peter Young said.
“The boys showed what they are capable of and what they can do in the last quarter last week.”
Not much will change going into this week. It’ll be about that link up from behind, the spread, and the dash.
“The run from behind and link up has been good. The way we want to run is to go back and then release forward, where you can get a lot of momentum up, break lines and break tackles. Tomorrow should be another good challenge for them.”
“We know they have got some really good players, I really rate Abey, it’s Doc’s 250th, I know Nick pretty well, it’s a big day for him and the club, but hopefully we can spoil that party.”
Morningside must win to cling onto the hope of a top three finish, but they are going to have their hands full. The fact that the game is being played at Morningside tips it in their favour.
FOOTY RECORD: QAFL RECORD – RD 18 – MORNINGSIDE V SURFERS
Western Magpies vs. UQ
Saturday August 29, 2:00pm – Chelmer
This one isn’t going to be like for like, but it’s going to be an arm-wrestle, nonetheless.
UQ will use their run and gun style play that has worked so well the last month, and the Magpies will want to slow them down and control the contest.
Whichever team can win the game style tug of war, will win this game.
Top three is a lock for the Magpies, but they aren’t worrying about that just yet.
“It’s still a week away, we have got to finish the season off before we can worry about that yet. It’s going to be a good warm up game for us, because they are in some pretty good form at the moment. If we take them lightly we will pay the price,” Coach Glenn Humphrey said.
Like Steve Daniel, Humphrey is a big believer in working up a sweat in the final game rather than cruising into the post season.
“I would much prefer to have a good hit out against a side that are really having a crack, so we can improve the areas we need to. If we get a game where it is a walk over, we don’t get the opportunity to do that,” he said.
It’ll be a very defensive mindset for the black and white this week. They don’t want to let UQ set up behind the ball, and they definitely don’t want to allow them to score like they have recently.
“We will have to try and ensure they don’t get to set up behind the footy as well as they would like to, and then make sure we take our time with the football and share it well until we do find that opening,” Humphrey said.
“We will be focusing on our defensive efforts this week; they are a high scoring side once they get up and going, so we want to try and take that ability away from them.”
While it might be the Red Lions’ last game this year, they still have a bit they want to get out of it.
“We want to go out there and continue to improve. That’s the main thing that I have spoken about since we haven’t been able to make finals, is just continual improvement from everyone, whether your 29 years old or 19,” Coach Darren Pfeiffer said.
He is well aware of the approach the Magpies will take to this game, but isn’t losing any sleep over it.
“We play on a pretty small oval so it’s always pretty tight, so I don’t think that will be too much of an issue with us,” he said.
UQ’s eyes will be firmly forward this week with pill in hand. They will be looking to get it into forward line as quickly as possible.
We are really trying to work on our center bounces and try and get it going our way and then, as I say every week, get it into our forward fifty because they are in some terrific form at the moment.
“If we win the inside 50’s I think we will win the game, simple as that.”
What the last month has done, is prove to the team they belong.
“It’s the belief now that if they have a good pre-season and tighten up the screws, they can be a real force in the competition, so that’s the really positive thing to come out of the last month,” Pfeiffer said.
This one will be one of the games of the round. You’d back UQ in if it’s a shootout, but the Magpies have been outstanding at locking Chelmer down like a fort this year.
FOOTY RECORD: QAFL RECORD – RD 18 – WESTERN MAGPIES V UNIVERSITY
By Andrew Wiles – @andrewjwiles