By Beth Newman
It’s a clash of the titans at Robina tomorrow, as the Roos take on Coorparoo in the major semi-final.
Robina survived a second-half comeback form the Roos the last time they played, getting up by only two points, and will be well aware of their quality in the match.
The Kings are well-seasoned finals veterans, having claimed the last two premierships, and Roos coach, Mark Vigus, said anything that has happened in the regular season means nothing now.
“Our season put us in a position to achieve what we wanted to, but it means nothing now. We’re on a par, nothing that happened previously matters,” he said.
“We have plenty to prove.”
The Roos had the week off in the opening week of finals, which can be a double-edged sword, and Vigus hopes the sword falls the right way against the Kings.
“I think it’s up to us on how it impacts the game,” he said.
“Teams can be lethargic coming off the bye or it can work the other way and they take advantage of it.
“We had a really good hit out last Saturday, which was basically a match simulation hit out, so the boys will come off having as much of a run as if they’d played.
While they have the double chance going into the semi-final, Vigus said, the mental edge that comes with a first-up win and an automatic grand final spot was invaluable.
“That first win is vital and we are switched on and ready for it.”
Vigus said the grit his side showed in their last meeting with the Kings, surviving their late surge, would be a crucial mental boost ahead of tomorrow’s match.
“Football’s very mental. Any sort of edge you can get over an opposition is vital to winning games,” he said.
“We feel we’ve got the players, the game plan and the style that will win the game if we can play well and on our terms, we’ve got no doubt that things will work well for us.”
Coorparoo showed their mettle with a come-from behind win over Yeronga last weekend, but it will be harder to overcome a sluggish start against the super silky Robina, on their home ground.
The major semi-final kicks off at Scottsdale Drive, Robina, at 2:15pm, with the winner going straight through to a September 7 grand final, while the loser faces one of Yeronga or Kedron in next weekend’s preliminary final.
Over at Yeronga, the Devils face Kedron as they try to avoid a straight sets exit from the finals.
The Lions have been the form team of the competition in recent weeks, with wins over Coorparoo and Aspley, bringing them to the minor semi-final.
They have shown they can more than mix it with the best, and their strong running game will be a challenge for the Devils, who lack a little pace.
On the other hand, the experienced Devils in players like Tim Notting and Shaun Mugavin will be the key for Yeronga, adding plenty of class to the side.
Devils coach, Chris Ryan, said after such an improved year, a straight sets exit would be “hugely disappointing.”
“We obviously recruited hard and set the benchmark quite high at the start of the year for ourselves, so to go out in straight sets would be extremely disappointing ,” he said.
“If you’re not on (your game), you can get beaten by anyone and that’s the beauty of footy.
“Form through the season counts for nothing come finals time.”
Ryan said his side would be looking to shut down the Lions quickly in a bid to combat their superior pace and good ball movement.
“Defensively, we need to set up and jut slow the game down and if we don’t do that there’s no reason we can’t win.”
For Lions coach, James Debono, every week is a bonus for the much-improved Kedron side.
After a couple of lean seasons, the club set a target of making the five and playing in one final.
They have already exceeded that and Debono said know it was time to simply look at each week as it comes.
“Realistically, if you had asked me, my goal at the start of the year was purely to make the five and play one final,” he said.
“That’s where I thought the group was at. Now that we’ve reached that goal, we re-assess.”
Debono said the form of his side in the last few weeks was crucial going into tomorrow’s sudden death clash.
“I just think it breeds self-belief for all the individuals that we can play the brand of footy we want to and that’s what gotten us to this point, where we are now.
The Lions have made one change since their win over Aspley, bringing in Jamie Wroe for Tom Grist.
The Lions fell only four points shy of victory against the Devils in Round 10, and are a far-improved side since then, so the Devils will be waiting for a massive test.
Tomorrow’s minor semi-final kicks off at 2:15pm at Leyshon Park, Yeronga.