By Beth Newman
Division Two finals kick off this weekend, headed by a cracking match-up between Yeronga and Coorparoo.
The Devils take on the Kings at Coorparoo, with a preliminary finals spot up for grabs.
Coorparoo’s big game experience could prove crucial in the clash, with the Kings claiming premierships in 2011 and 2012
Tomorrow will be Yeronga’s first finals berth for five years, but with experienced players like Shaun Mugavin, Tim Notting and Brett Duke in their side, they can breathe a little bit easier.
Those three players, with extensive finals experience, inject a lot of leadership in to the side, which will play a crucial role in tomorrow’s match.
Coming off a win in their last regular game, Devils coach Chris Ryan said he was confident ahead of the qualifying final.
“We won last week, which is what you want to do going into finals, but they’re the benchmark,” he said.
“They’ve set the standard over the last couple of years and we’re no illusions we’re going to have to play at our best to beat them.”
Ryan said while he was aware of the Kings anger players, his focus would firmly on what his side can do to get over the line.
“We’ll stick to our strengths and hopefully everything will fall into place,” he said.
“They’ve got some very good players to put some time into, but obviously we believe our game plan will hold up in a finals game,” he said.
Yeronga will field one of their strongest sides of the year in the match, with twin towers Brad O’Brien and Ash Condon teaming up in the ruck.
“Both those guys are around 6’6” and I think that’s going to be a bit of a weapon, having two ruckmen who can have a big influence on the game,” he said.
With a second double chance up for grabs for the winner of the qualifying final, Ryan said the opportunity was a massive one for his side.
“If you win, you get another double chance so from that perspective it is important to win,” he said.
“Even though he loser gets a home final, you still want to win and then get the double chance.”
Coorparoo takes on Yeronga at Giffin Park at 2:15pm tomorrow, with the winner to meet Robina in a preliminary final.
Meanwhile, at Kedron, the Lions face Aspley in a bid to keep their season alive.
Kedron earned themselves a home elimination final with an upset win over Coorparoo last weekend, and will have plenty of confidence going into tomorrow’s match.
Coming from second last in 2012, coach, James Debono said it was unbelievable to be playing finals only a year later, but they wouldn’t simply be making up the numbers.
“It would massive to get a win but we want to progress as far as possible,” he said.
“Our goal was to take the group to finals and as soon as we realised we were definitely going to do that we said we’re going to take it week by week.
“Certain things are out of our control so can only worry about what’s in our control in the game.”
The home advantage could be a massive one for the Lions, who have dropped only one match at EK Anderson oval, in round two to Nambour.
Debono, who has not been involved in a losing home game this season, said being able to play at home was a huge boost for the Lions.
“It’s good for the club and good for the supporters of the club,” he said.
“We’ve got a good record, only beaten once, when there were a few guys away.”
“I’m looking forward to keeping my record to 100 per cent.”
Aside from Jason Duce, who went down with a knee injury last weekend, the Lions side will look much the same as that which bested the Kings in Round 16.
And Debono said they would be focusing on doing the job in much the same way as against the Kings last weekend.
“(We can’t) get overawed by the situation and all that when certain moments within the game aren’t going our way,” he said.
“There were times when Coorparoo looked like they were coming back in the game but we just reset and played the way we wanted to play the game, did the little things right and the big things took care of themselves.”
Aspley coach, Adam Holland, said he hoped the finals experience in his side, having been there in 2012, would help them against the Lions tomorrow.
“We’ve got a large group that have been together three, four, five years now and we’re into our second finals series,” he said.
“When it’s really hot early I think that familiarity amongst the playing group and confidence in our structures could be the difference in the end.”
The return of captain Steven Jackson is a major boost for the Hornets, bringing both talent and leadership to the table.
Kedron and Aspley have met twice this season, splitting the honours, but their last match was in round eight, more than two months ago.
Both sides’ fortunes have changed dramatically since then, and Holland said he wouldn’t be focusing too much on those early season clashes heading into the match.
“You can always learn something from those games, but their form over the last couple of weeks shows they’re going to be confident,” he said.
“It’ll be a cracker.”
Kedron hosts Aspley in an elimination final tomorrow at EK Anderson Oval at 2:15pm.