Finals footy kicks off in the State Association first division with Yeronga taking on Alexandra Hills at Leyshon Park on Saturday. The Devils pushed Caloundra last week but were unable to bridge the 20 point margin setup by the Panther’s solid opening term. Their endeavour over the final three quarters showed what they are capable of, however time was not on their side and Yeronga were unable to reel Caloundra in. Heath Hart continued his purple patch that has been seen throughout the past month with two goals and best on ground honours. Former Mornington sharpshooter Paul Gay played his first game for the year and kicked five goals in a lively outing, while Brad O’Brien and Matt Lockyer were consistent as ever.
Alexandra Hills were able to break their six game losing streak as they accounted for Wynnum by four points. The less than convincing victory was assisted by a strong 10 goal first half that allowed the Bombers to jump the Vikings out of the gate. Their five goal second half was enough to keep the lead and come away with the desperately needed four points to get them into the finals. Craig Rusby had a busy day up forward and booted six much need goals to be best on ground for the Bombers. His best haul of the year will be a massive confidence boost for an Alex Hills front line that has scarcely seen big scoring forwards in the second half of the season.
So far the points have been split between these sides this year. However, the dramatic change in form for both sides in the second half of the season shows that only their most recent clash would give the most accurate indication of who would be favourite this week. The Bombers late season month and a half brain fade almost forced them out of the finals race altogether, while Yeronga were able to string together big wins against good sides and peak at the right time of year. Although they are coming of a rare win, Alexandra Hills will need to provide a true finals miracle to get over the Yeronga outfit that has shown plenty of heart in recent weeks. The home ground advantage will be handy for the Devils as they look to close this one with ease and progress to the second week of the finals.
Head-to-Head This Year:
12.12-84 Alexandra Hills def. Yeronga Sth Brisbane 7.9-51
15.18-108 Yeronga Sth Brisbane def. Alexandra Hills 12.8-80
The Last Five Weeks:
Yeronga Sth Brisbane – LWWWW
Alexandra Hills – WLLLL
Coorparoo will travel up to North Street Oval to face Caloundra in the first Qualifying final of the year. The Kings needed a win last week to secure third spot on the ladder and they were able to hold off Aspley by three goals. The Coorparoo backline were tremendous in the third quarter and kept the Hornets goalless. The forward line, headed by Nick Webb with four goals, put on plenty of scoreboard pressure in a second half purple patch that helped seal the game. Ball magnet Liam Best continued his solid form from last week’s game against Alexandra Hills with a superb best on ground effort, while Paul James capped a fine year with another excellent four quarter effort.
Caloundra were able to bounce back from their upset loss to Kenmore two weeks ago with a strong 20 point win against Yeronga in the final round of the regular season. The Panthers kept a three goal buffer for the majority of the match and finished well with an imposing second half. The in-form Devils were a big scalp for Caloundra who have had questions raised about their premiership prospects late in the season after several losses. Brilliant ruckman Shaun Clarke continued his consistent year with a seven goal haul and was dominant at stoppages around the ground. Tom Jordan, Jake Weller and Dylan Wearmouth all finished the season with a fantastic last month and were again influential against in the victory.
The last time these two sides met in a final it was to decide the champion for last season. On that occasion Caloundra took home the crown, but since then the points have been shared. When the Panthers were running hot earlier in the year they were able to dominate Coorparoo with a score line that didn’t accurately represent the one sided affair. The Kings turned it around with a convincing six goal win in round thirteen and have certainly improved come the second half of the year. Big game players like Ben Gibson and Jake Weller will flourish for their respective sides in this one, with the outcome set to go either way. The incentive of having a week off and putting yourself in the position to be only one more win away from a Grand Final berth should spur on both sides to pull out their best in what is sure to be an entertaining battle.
Head-to Head This Year
17.16-118 Caloundra def. Coorparoo Kings 15.4-94
17.19-121 Coorparoo Kings def. Caloundra 12.13-85
The Last Five Weeks:
Caloundra – WLWWW
Coorparoo – WWDWL