Saturday September 19, 4:45pm Leyshon Park
LIVE BLOG from 4:30pm
Traditional rivals, do-or-die football, Saturday twilight. Finals footy doesn’t get much bigger than this.
After succumbing to a surprise 4-point defeat against Coolangatta last weekend, defending premiers Coorparoo will square off with long time rivals, Yeronga, this Saturday in a preliminary final showdown.
For the winner, a grand final awaits on September 26, while the loser will have to deal with falling at the penultimate hurdle. Let’s take a closer look at how this one shapes up.
TALE OF THE TAPE: Coorparoo have been the dominant figure in female football for a long-time now, but last weekend’s loss to Coolangatta proved that the Navy Roos have some serious competition in 2015. Despite the disappointing loss to the Bluebirds, Coorparoo still have to be considered a legitimate contender for this year’s QWAFL premiership, with a wealth of talent and experience at their fingertips. This club has proved time and time again that they know how to win football games when it counts, so don’t expect one loss on the ledger to change how the Navy Roos go about their business.
Yeronga have been constantly improving in 2015, and last Saturday’s elimination final win against Zillmere might have been one of the Devils best this season. A 57-point drubbing of the Eagles was exactly what Scott Stephens wanted from his group, and Yeronga must be considered a genuine threat after a string of solid hit-outs. The Devils have been sitting third all season and will have plenty to prove this Saturday, but Yeronga possess a young, hungry and close-knit group who are more than capable of rising to the challenge.
HISTORY: Coorparoo vs. Yeronga is one of the true local rivalries in women’s football. Cross-town rivals who are always looking to one up each other.
The Devils and Navy Roos have met three times in 2015, with Coorparoo comfortable leading the head-to-head 3-0. With victories of 65, 32 and 55-points Yeronga have never seriously challenged Coorparoo this season, but there have been moments where the Devils looked the better side. Specifically in their round 12 clash, Yeronga probably got the better of the Navy Roos in the final three-quarters, but a slow start cost them dearly. If that happens again this Saturday it will be game over for the Devils. Coorparoo had the wood over the Devils in 2014 as well, defeating Yeronga three times to bring their head-to-head record over the last two years to 6-0. History suggests that all the momentum is with Coorparoo heading into this one, but stranger things have happened.
LAST TIME THEY MET: It was round 17 and Yeronga had high hopes after a positive finish to their clash with the Navy Roos in round 12, but it wasn’t to be. The Devils kicked 0.5 in the opening term compared to Coorparoo’s 3.3 and the Navy Roos took control from there to run away with a 55-point victory. Starts have been an issue for Yeronga against Coorparoo, another poor one simply can’t happen this weekend.
KEY PLAYERS: The depth of players from both squads is incredible, but there are a select few who stand out as game changers. For Coorparoo, a surprise letdown last weekend was their midfield, who usually do such a great job at controlling games. Emma Zielke and Sally Young are absolutely crucial to the Navy Roos success on the weekend. Both have enjoyed stellar seasons in 2015 and should be at the forefront of Coorparoo’s attack. Hannah Sexton is also another to watch, the speedy winger was among Coorparoo’s best last weekend and can quickly change games. The Navy Roos were lacklustre in the goal-kicking department against Coolangatta, but Mackenzie Arnold has showed serious chops this year in front of goal, bagging 40 from nine games – if she gets going watch out. Hunt, Crack and Sidin are also key for Coorparoo on the weekend.
Yeronga have a young but talented list and the Devils will again need to rely on their more experienced heads to lead the way. You simply can’t look past Jordan Zanchetta and Emily Bates who were simply brilliant last week. Both players are first-class by foot and will be a big challenge in the guts for the Coorparoo girls. Nat Thomas hasn’t seen a lot of game time lately, but she is as handy as they come. The best thing about Thomas is her versatility – the experienced utility has chipped in nearly everywhere in 2015 and is dangerous all around the ground. Hayley Newberry and Jade Ransfield are the keys up forward, the pair have kicked 90 majors between them this season and both look as dangerous as each other. Selhorst, Winterbottom and Puruntatameri are also ones to watch.
HOW THE DEVILS CAN WIN IT: Off the ball pressure. Coolangatta showed last week that defensive pressure can rattle Coorparoo. Yeronga have all the tools to beat the Navy Roos but they must work hard when they don’t have the footy to limit the damage and force turnovers.
HOW THE NAVY ROOS CAN WIN IT: Clearances. Coorparoo have been so damaging this season when they move the ball quickly out of the middle and into their forward line. It didn’t happen last week and it was a big reason they lost. If they dominate the clearance game they will be hard to stop.
FINAL WORD: Coorparoo deserve to be favourites heading into this game with their record against Yeronga, but anything could really happen in this one. Both teams have a heap of motivation to win this game – Coorparoo don’t want to be bounced out in straight sets, while Yeronga are desperate to prove that they are better then just a third-placed team. Both clubs have their strengths and we can expect a fast paced running game, but I expect Coorparoo to bounce back after last week and get the chocolates. Navy Roos by 11.
Sally Young – Coorparoo
“Last week was a tough loss, but after the girls got over the initial disappoint of losing they realised that we really have to fight for this. I think they realised how much they want to be in a grand final and they are pumped to win this week.
“I think Coolangatta really put the pressure on us all game and it was forcing us to make errors – we had too many turnovers and we couldn’t hit the middle like we usually do.
“The last quarter against them was exactly how we need to play, we need to pressure from the middle and pump it inside fifty quickly.
“We know it’s going to be tough, they have threats all over the field and we will have to be over each and everyone of those players – we know how good they are and they have some good state players who will be very hard to beat.
“The key for us this week is about the team and helping each other through it, we want to focus on our team culture and be ready to fight for each other.”
Scott Stephens – Yeronga
“After the game on Saturday we were feeling pretty good, the general mood of the group is quite positive and I think if we can play four quarters of pressure we can win.
“The start is crucial in any final and you have to get a jump, the way finals footy goes it ends up being high pressure and you don’t want to be chasing tail all day, so getting momentum at the start is very important.
“I think the girls are starting to believe in themselves – they lacked a little bit of belief earlier in the season but I think they are growing in confidence and I think we have the right formula.
“We’ve been in third spot all year and I think the girls want to prove to everyone that we are better than just third and that opportunity comes this weekend.
“The girls have showed me that when the effort is there that they can get the job done, and I am confident we have what it takes to win this Saturday.”
By Grant Hitzman – @granthitzman