YERONGA vs. ZILLMERE
Saturday September 12, 1:30pm Leyshon Park
LIVE BLOG from 1:15pm
A serious rivalry has been building between these two clubs this season, and on Saturday it will all come to head when Yeronga and Zillmere clash in a do-or-die Elimination Final showdown.
A lot is riding on this one, a preliminary final berth awaits the winner, while the loser will have to cope with watching the rest of September from the sidelines. Let’s take a closer look at how this one is shaping up.
TALE OF THE TAPE: Scott Stephen’s troops have been consistent all season long, locked in third for most of 2015 and considered by many a real premiership threat. The Devils have been clinical this year, with their crowning moment coming two weeks ago with a surprise 28-point win over Coolangatta. A handsome 11-5 record and five wins from their last six puts Yeronga in a great position to make some noise this September.
After making the Grand Final last season, Zillmere’s start to 2015 wasn’t what many expected. The Eagles looked a step slow in the opening weeks and after slumping to a 3-7 record, their finals hopes were in serious doubt. A faster pace of play and increased focus on intensity helped Zillmere find their feet in the back half of the year and suddenly the Eagles were playing like a team possessed. It wasn’t a pretty season, but a big 47-point win over Wilston Grange in the final round of the year was enough to see the Eagles finish fourth.
HISTORY: It’s safe to say that there is a pretty intense rivalry between these two clubs, and neither will want to walk away with a loss on Saturday. The Devils have been too good for Zillmere in 2015, winning all three of their clashes by 94, 61 and 22-points. The Eagles have gotten closer each time and have improved as the season has gone on, but there is no denying that Yeronga have the wood on them. Interesting to note that when these two teams met in the preliminary final in 2014, the Eagles smacked Yeronga by 73-points. Don’t expect the same result on Saturday though.
LAST TIME THEY MET: Clearly the most competitive of their three meetings this season, Zillmere took the fight to Yeronga in round 14 but fell short by 22-points. The Devils led by 26-points at quarter-time, but a spirited fightback from Zillmere – including a stellar last quarter – will give the Eagles plenty of confidence heading into this Saturday.
KEY PLAYERS: The Eagles have struggled to kick big scores this season, but Tayla Harris has managed to kick 22 goals from 12 games. The Queensland star has also played a pivotal role down back for Zillmere this year and has been named in the Eagles best 8 times in 2015. A big game from her could mean the difference between a win and a loss. Ali Anderson has been the leader of the Eagles midfield this season and Zillmere will need the gutsy on-baller to be at her best again if they are a chance of winning. Defence wins premierships and Emma Pericic has been the heartbeat of the Eagles back six in 2015; she will have on hands full on the weekend, but expect her to shine.
Nat Thomas, Jordan Zanchetta and Emily Bates are the deadly Yeronga trio who have caused so much damage this season and will be ones to watch again on Saturday. Despite playing most of their footy in the guts, Thomas and Zanchetta have combined for 26 goals this season, while Bates has been nearly unstoppable off half-back. Stop these three and you give yourself a big chance.
HOW THE DEVILS CAN WIN IT: Contested football. We all know the Devils can slice and dice when they’ve got the footy in hand, but they have to get it first. Winning the hard ball will win them this football game.
HOW THE EAGLES CAN WIN IT: Outside run. The Eagles pride themselves on running the football and we have seen this season that when they get going they are hard to stop.
FINAL WORD: The form guide says that Yeronga are going to be pretty hard to knock over in this one. 3-0 head-to-head record against the Eagles this season, including two 10 goal beltings. Zillmere have come along way in the last month and proved in round 14 that they can match it with the Devils, and if they get a fast start Saturday watch out. Devils still have a little too much class for me and will be full of confidence after a ripping finish to the regular season. Yeronga by 27.
Scott Stephens – Yeronga
“We know that if we go in and play our best footy that we will win.
“But we don’t show any lack of respect to Zillmere, we have knocked them over three times now so I’m expecting them to come out absolutely firing.
“Judging from the mood I think we are really keen to go out there and play, the girls aren’t hesitant and they all understand that there will be an increased intensity this weekend.
“If we continually apply pressure for four quarters we will win the game, I think that is the key – whoever applies pressure for the longest gets the chocolates.”
Jacob Simmons-Bliss – Zillmere
“The group is really ready for the task and challenge in front of them, they are really excited to be playing in September action.
“Our approach doesn’t change because it’s a final, we are just fine tuning and making sure we are right to go Saturday afternoon.
“We know that our best footy on the day can beat Yeronga, the last time we played them we beat them across three-quarters.
“I think we have the advantage of being able to win the contested ground footy, it will just be a case of who gets the outside run and who can use it best – whoever does that wins.”
COORPAROO vs. COOLANGATTA
Saturday September 12, 4:30pm Leyshon Park
LIVE BLOG from 4:15pm
Defending premiers Coorparoo will square off with second-placed Coolangatta in the main event game at Leyshon Park this Saturday, with the winner heading straight for the Grand Final.
A guaranteed spot in the big dance should be all the motivation these clubs need, and we should see a ripper on the weekend with both sides loaded with individual brilliance.
TALE OF THE TAPE: When a team has only lost two games of football in nearly two years it is hard to fault them. Coorparoo have again been the benchmark in 2015, dominating nearly all season on their way to an emphatic 15-1 record with a ridiculous percentage to boot. The Navy Roos have had a few scares this season, including a 34-point loss to this Saturday’s opponents in round 1, but overall Coorparoo have been head and shoulders the best team in the competition. A near five month winning streak is also handy heading into finals.
For the first two months of this season, Coolangatta looked nearly untouchable. Some brilliant recruiting by the club and an excellent appointment of Aaron Russell to head coach saw the Bluebirds undefeated after 8 rounds. The back half of 2015 has been a tough slog for Coolangatta after the Bluebirds lost a slew of players to injuries. Losing three of your last five games isn’t an ideal way to enter a qualifying final, but the Bluebirds will welcome back a whopping 11 players this week in a huge boost for the club.
HISTORY: Before this season, Coorparoo and Coolangatta didn’t have much of a rivalry, but that has all changed this year. Three quality meetings between these two clubs in 2015 has sparked some hostility after a string of close games. The Navy Roos hold a 2-1 head-to-head record over the Bluebirds this season with a 2-point win in round 9 and 32-point win in round 15. Coolangatta’s solitary win against Coorparoo was a 34-point victory way back in round 1, but it was the biggest defeat the Navy Roos have suffered in two years, and that has to count for something. The qualifying final clash on Saturday will be the first finals meeting between the two clubs, but don’t let that fool you, there will be plenty of feeling in this.
LAST TIME THEY MET: This was definitely the most one sided of the three games between these two sides. Many expected another classic after a 2-point thriller in round 9, but a depleted Coolangatta simply weren’t up to the challenge, tossed aside by 32-points. The first-quarter was what cost the Bluebirds in this one, a 24-1 opening term is hard to recover from, especially against Coorparoo. If the Bluebirds start like this again on the weekend, expect Coorparoo to run away with it.
KEY PLAYERS: The amount of talent from both sides in this game is ridiculous and some of the matchups we might see on the weekend are mouthwatering. Coorparoo’s captain, Emma Zielke, is one to watch on Saturday. The tenacious Queensland gun does her most damaging work in the midfield, but the versatility of Zielke is what makes her so dangerous – expect her to contribute everywhere. Hannah Sexton is the speedster of the Navy Roos and has had a ripping year on the wing for Coorparoo. Her link up play with Megan Hunt and Sally Young has been incredible this season. Rachel Crack is another to watch, named in the Navy Roos best 10 times this season, Crack has proven to be one of the most reliable performers in the competition.
Look no further than Coolangatta’s captain, Leah Kaslar, as the go to player for the Bluebirds on Saturday. Kaslar has managed just 10 games in 2015 through injury, but has been named in Coolangatta’s best seven times, receiving huge wraps from senior coach, Aaron Russell. Kaslar is a ball winner, tackling machine and born leader, shut her down and the game will open up. In the absence of key forward Rosalie Adamson for the back-half of 2015, Morgan Lowe has done a mighty job to fill the void. Lowe has booted 22 goals in 15 games for the Bluebirds and will again be a big target on the weekend. Jordan Membrey, Nikki Wallace and Bethany Pinchin are also ones to watch.
HOW THE NAVY ROOS CAN WIN IT: One on ones. We all know that Coorparoo can dominate possession and pile on the points, but they play their best football when they are committed to their direct opponent. Winning those key matchups in the midfield will go a long way in winning this game.
HOW THE BLUEBIRDS CAN WIN IT: Turnovers. Coorparoo don’t turn the ball over often, but when they do you need to make the most of it. Pressuring the Navy Roos into mistakes and capitalising in front of goal will win Coolangatta this game.
FINAL WORD: Both teams have beaten each other this season, but Coorparoo look a little more polished heading into this one. Coolangatta are welcoming a lot of players back and if they can all gel quickly there is no question that the Bluebirds can win this. The Navy Roos are defending premiers for a reason however and I feel that some extra finals experience and seasoned bodies will help them get the job done. Coorparoo by 14.
Bernie Cantrell – Coorparoo
“If we stick to our team structures and go out and play our brand of footy, hopefully we come away with the win.
“The girls are all fired up and ready to go for this one, and I think the belief is absolutely there to win the game.
“Finals footy can be a funny game, we have lots of respect for Coolangatta and we know what we are up against.
“As long as the girls go out there and give 100% and continue to follow in game what we’ve done at training I think we can get it done.”
Aaron Russell – Coolangatta
“We pretty much have a full strength side which is pretty exciting, there were about 31 able bodies on the track last night and we have 11 to return who haven’t played more than a game in six weeks.
“I’m sure there will be a bunch of girls who are nervous before the game, but I think everyone is excited and we are just hoping to get back to form and play how we were in the middle of the year.
“Obviously Coorparoo are the side to beat and they have lots of experience and we have girls who have never played finals in their life, so that is a new dynamic.
“What we can take is winning isn’t something new against Coorparoo, we can take some belief into it and be ready to accept the challenge.”
By Grant Hitzman – @granthitzman