By Ant Wingard @AntWingard
Division 1 HART Sport Cup Finals Preview
Caloundra v Coorparoo
Saturday September 1, 2:00PM
Carter Park, North Street, Caloundra
A first week finals loss could be the reality check the Caloundra Panthers need as they embark on a finals campaign in which also features fellow Sunshine Coast sides Maroochydore and Noosa.
Ahead of the Panthers’ final loss to Noosa one week ago, Caloundra had lost just one game in their past nine – a stellar run into finals which also included a draw with defending premiers Maroochydore.
Yet despite their rich vein of form, the Panthers couldn’t match it against Noosa last week as the Tigers outscored the away side 64-32 in the second half, but the side now have the perfect opportunity to rebound this weekend according to Caloundra head coach Steve Moody.
“We were very disappointed in ourselves last week. I would be incredibly disappointed if we came out with a similar sort of effort this weekend,” Moody told aflq.com.au.
“We have a lot to prove to ourselves as well as our supporters and I think we owe it to them to be better than we were last week. We definitely will be better than we were last week.”
History this season favours Caloundra in their do or die showdown with the Kings on Saturday.
On each of the four occasions where the Panthers lost a game throughout the season, they responded the next week with a win. And after the loss to Noosa last week, the writing is on the wall to do the same against Coorparoo – something Moody was happy to point out.
“We haven’t lost two in a row this year and hopefully that’s the same this week,” he said.
The Kings will be fancying their chances though, especially after their emphatic come from behind win over Mayne last week.
Six Coorparoo players hit the scoreboard against the Tigers and an even contribution will be required again this weekend.
Coorparoo will also take confidence from their win over Caloundra earlier this season in which the Kings, much like their elimination final against Mayne, were forced to come from behind and pip the Panthers in the final quarter.
A Kings victory would most likely require a significant contribution from Jack Wratten, who sits fifth in the HART Sport Cup on the goal-kicking leaderboard.
Wratten booted three goals in the Kings’ Round 3 win over the Panthers but was kept to just one major in the two side’s Round 12 matchup.
What makes Wratten so dangerous though, is not only his prowess of finding the goals, but in the manner he does so.
So often do forwards go missing for periods of the game, but that motive isn’t applicable to the Kings sharpshooter, highlighted by the fact he hit the scoreboard in every quarter last week including the major which handed Coorparoo their biggest lead of the game.
Maroochydore v Noosa
Saturday September 1, 2:00PM
Maroochydore Multisports Complex
A place in the Grand Final is up for grabs as Division 1’s heavyweights prepare to go head to head for the third time this season.
After the success enjoyed by both the Roos and Tigers this season, only a ticket to the Grand Final will satisfy their hunger for more success late in the season.
Of course, the two clubs have reigned supreme in the HART Sport Cup since 2017 and they could well meet again in the Grand Final in a fortnight’s time at Yeronga’s Leyshon Park.
After a week off in the first week of finals, Maroochydore head coach Andrew Cazdow is confident his side could go a long way into finals again in 2018 and that begins with a win against Noosa this Saturday.
“We were pretty happy to get a week off to freshen our blokes up and we’ll get a few blokes back from injury,” Cazdow told aflq.com.au.
“The first aim was obviously to get the team in a place to play finals and second to that is that as soon as you get into finals, you hope to go all of the way.”
“We don’t shy away from the fact that now we’ve made finals, we want to make a red-hot crack of trying to win the flag.”
Saturday’s qualifying final looms as yet another chapter in a continuing saga between Maroochydore and Noosa, who have developed a longstanding rivalry in the Division 1 competition.
The two sides faced off in the Grand Final last season which the Roos won, despite the Tigers finishing above their Sunshine Coast rivals at the end of the home and away season.
Last season’s big dance was the first time the two sides had met each other in the Grand Final in modern times, yet they have continued to cross paths since then.
Including Maroochydore’s Grand Final win, this weekend will be the fourth time the two sides have met in the finals across the last four seasons with the Roos holding a 2-1 record in the ledger.
After representing the South Queensland side in their July representative contest against North Queensland, Maroochydore spearhead Mitch Scholard will again play a role for the Roos in their quest for back to back premierships.
Scholard brought up the 100-goal milestone in the final home and away game and enters the qualifying final in blistering form having booted 20 goals in his past two games.
His record against Noosa this season has been relatively subdued for his lofty standards with figures of one goal and six goals to his name in the side’s two contests this year.
Their Round 3 Grand Final rematch was won by Noosa, when Scholard kicked a solitary major, but Maroochydore claimed the four points in their recent Round 12 derby.