U18 Div 2 Finals Week 2 Preview

Four teams are still in the running to be crowned U18 Division two champions, as the second week of finals plays out on Sunday.

Four teams are still in the running to be crowned U18 Division two champions, as the second week of finals plays out on Sunday.

Top of the table, Caloundra kicks off its campaign, after a well-earned week off, against the Coorparoo Kings at North St, Caloundra.

After claiming the minor premiership on percentage, over Coorparoo and Wynnum, the Panthers won’t be getting ahead of themselves against the Kings, who defeated the Vikings in their qualifying final last weekend.

As well as finishing on the same number of wins, the Kings got the better of the Panthers in their last regular season clash, by six points.

Panthers player, Jordan Barrett, said the side wouldn’t be changing much ahead of the match, which will decide one of this season’s grand finalists.

“Our preparation will be the same as during the season,” Barrett said.

“The boys are all pretty pumped and we have had a good season,” Barrett said.

“Training will be the same and we are all just really looking forward to the semi and especially playing on our home ground.”

Coach, Tim Francis, said the Panthers would be more than ready for the Kings on Sunday, and their focus on emulating aspects of senior footy, would hold them in good stead against Coorparoo.

 “Throughout the season the boys have been challenged to not only do their best on the U18s field but challenge themselves to play senior footy.

“Adapting to senior footy is a pretty big deal, playing against the bigger boys, the footy is harder and I think a lot of our Under 18s boys have translated this experience, playing senior footy, into really gutsy 18s footy. “

While the  Panthers were resting last weekend, the Kings made a strong statement, defeating Wynnum by 20 points at Coorparoo.

Kings coach, Rod Crawford, described their performance as a show of character and praised his side’s coolness under pressure.

Heading into the match against the Panthers, Crawford said his charges would be looking to play smarter footy than they did against Wynnum.

“When we got it in the first half, we made some poor decisions with where to kick it and who to kick it to and handballing under pressure and we’ll work on that,” he said.

The key to nabbing a grand final berth, Crawford said, was pretty simple.

“At the end of the day, our guys just have to all, to a man, beat their opponent.”

The Panthers take on the Kings at 2pm on Sunday at North St, with the winner progressing straight through to the August 17 grand final.

Back in Brisbane, it’s a sudden-death proposition for Yeronga and Wynnum.

The Devils roared into the second week of finals, with a 72-point win over Nambour last weekend, and will be drawing on all of that momentum against the Vikings, in the first semi final.

Wynnum suffered from a final-quarter fade out against Coorparoo, with a number of players going down with cramps in the final quarter.

Coach, Matt Cordwell, is confident his players will be fresh for the Yeronga match, though, and said he was focused on keeping morale high ahead of the cut-throat game.

“Everyone’s spirits were a bit down but I focused on getting the spirits back up,” he said.

“We’ll have a  solid week of training this week and be out there hoping to get the win.”

Yeronga will take plenty of confidence from the last time the two sides met, with the Devils claiming a win in the final home and away fixture – a fact of which Cordwell is acutely aware.

“They beat us the week leading into the finals so they’re going to be fairly cocky and expecting another win,” he said.

“We’re more than happy to be underdogs, though.”

Cordwell said the high stakes of the match would not change his side’s approach.

“I haven’t really instructed the guys to play conservatively all year,” he said.

“The game plan we’ve got works and we’ve proven that by beating every team this year.

“On our day we’re one of the best teams so we’ll just stick to what we’ve been doing all year and hopefully it works for us come Sunday.”

The Vikings will be looking for another top effort from Dan Cordwell, who played a super shut down role last weekend against Coorparoo.

Dan finished third in the league’s best and fairest this season, but showed his ability to put the team first in the tagging role.

Wynnum and Yeronga face off in the first semi-final at 2pm on Sunday, at Kianawah Park, with the winner to meet the loser of the Coorparoo v Caloundra clash.

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