On Saturday, Maroochydore powered past Coorparoo (6.4-40 v 4.3-27) in the Bond University QAFLW Elimination Final, and now a win against the Bond Bullsharks is all that stands in the way of premiership glory for the Sunshine Coast side.
The Roos will assume the role as underdog in tomorrow’s clash, and Captain Rachel Crack knows they’ve got a battle on their hands to secure the remaining spot in the QAFLW Grand Final, on Sunday 4th July.
“We love that for us – it takes the pressure off. Bond will have been told they should win and are expected to win, so all that pressure is on them,” said Crack.
“We’ve got a lot of young players so that mentality of being the underdogs takes a lot of pressure off them and they can just go out there and play the way they play.
“We’re all just still a bit shocked that we’ve come this far.”
The two sides first met in round one of the 2021 season, with a 19-point win going Bond’s way.
Round 13 saw that margin drop to 15 points, with Taylor Smith kicking three of the Bullsharks five. While Brooke Matheson slotted two of the Roos three.
Their game plan for this weekend? Shutting down Bond’s key play makers.
“They’ve got Howarth and Hampson that dominate so if we can get on top of those two early, we’ll be in for a good chance,” said Crack.
“But they are a pretty evenly spread side, they play well all over the ground so we need to apply pressure from the start and shut it down, then hopefully we can come away with the win.”
The Skipper was full of praise for her young side, which saw a raft of new faces enter the team at the start of the 2021 season.
“It did take us awhile to gel being a new team, but we’ve really come together well now and that shows on the park,” she said.
“A shout out to Jya Epstein; her game has improved immensely, and she’s been up there in our best nearly the whole 14 rounds. Best of all, she plays really well against Bond. When we played them in round one, she was amazing and then again in round 13 she was best on ground.
“There’s also Bella Smith, she’s a draft prospect and has really improved this year. She’s been working on her fitness, so hopefully she can run the whole game out this Saturday.
“And Kelsee Sills – we gave her the job of former Roo Mikaya Pauga last time we played Bond and she got four touches so I reckon we’ll give her the job on Mikey again. Cause when Mikey is on, she’s on.”
Down the M1 at Robina, it’s not all doom and gloom at Bullsharks HQ, after two tough losses in a row to UQ.
“Despite the second loss against UQ, the vibe isn’t too bad. We’re still keeping positive and just looking at it one week at a time now,” said Captain Shannon Danckert.
“We’re taking the losses on the chin and we’re looking at those games as to what we can do better and learning from them rather than getting down about them.”
Danckert says the ticket to the Grand Final will be in the basics.
“We need to go back to playing Bond style of footy. That means a strong start, and cleaning up our skills, where we run fast and carry the footy when we need to, but then be able to pull up and play nice and slow with short chip kicks to make the short 45s as well. I think we’ve strayed away from that these past few weeks.”
The captain putting out a warning to Maroochydore to be weary of the Bond backline.
“Krystal Scott in our backline – she’s been fabulous all season. I thought her game last week was unreal, her skill and strength in the air to mark balls and spoil and also her run off half back is very, very dangerous for us.
“Lucy Pullar too – we can put her anywhere and she’s just elite. She’s always getting in and under the footy and has so much awareness around the ball. She’s been fabulous for us all year.”
The 2021 Minor Premiers, for the third year a row, are determined to turnaround their finals fortune.
“We always go out with the confidence we can win, I do think Maroochydore are a beatable side, but it doesn’t mean we go out there thinking we are unbeatable. We need to stay modest and remember that no matter what we do we’re playing quarter by quarter.”
It’s a similar vibe for the Roos who’ll channel nerves and their Sunny Coast chilled vibes to see them get the win.
“Nerves are good, we all proved last week we could play well even when we’re nervous,” said Crack.
“The thing with us Maroochydore girls is that we are pretty cool, calm and collected up here on the Sunshine Coast, so hopefully we just maintain that attitude and play a nice, smart game, and not rush or overthink things.”
QAFLW Preliminary Final
Saturday 26th June
1pm kick off (Development game 11am)