They’ve been the top two teams all season, Bond University and University of Queensland finishing one-two on the ladder and now the stage is set for a university showdown in Sunday’s Bond University QAFLW Premiership Final.
They met two times through the home and away season and then again in the first week of the final’s series with a varied set of results;
Round 7 (April 24th, 2021): Bond University 4.5-29 def. UQ 2.3-15
Round 14 (June 12th, 2021): UQ 14.12-96 def Bond 5.1-31
Qualifying Final (June 19th, 2021): UQ 9.8-62 def Bond 4.2-26
We’ve spoken to both coaches to get their thoughts on Sunday’s grand final clash.
How will the match be won?
Ross Clayfield, UQ Head Coach: “It’s a strange set of circumstances; we’re finishing our season with three games against the same team and the thing that every coach would tell you that they are most terrified of is complacency.
“We’ve talked a lot about that as a group. It’s that difference between confidence and over confidence and I think our last two performances against Bond give us every right to go into the game quietly confident but we certainly can’t be complacent.
“We have a massive amount of respect for Bond – what they do on and off the field and the grand final is different to any other game and we all know anything can happen on the day.”
Luke Mansbridge, Bond University Head Coach: “We had a bit of a flat patch there for a few weeks, but it feels like we’ve turned a corner and the intensity and the vibe has really lifted.
“It was sparked by the way we performed in that last quarter last game. We were back to playing footy how we were for most of the year, aside from this past month.
“We go into Sunday excited, and the girls are very keen to put their best foot forward.”
While UQ got a direct one-way ticket to the Grand Final thanks to their 36-point win over Bond on June 19th, the Bullsharks took on Maroochydore in the Preliminary clash.
It was a slow and sluggish start for Bond, who got merely two behinds on the board before the fourth quarter, before storming home to win 4.2-26.
Mansbridge: “The girls know their intensity wasn’t at the level that it needs to be playing finals footy and top-level sides.
“They understand the level they need to be at so from minute one quarter one this Sunday that’s the intensity that they’ll bring.
“Footy is a pretty simple game – if you bring that energy, enthusiasm and intensity, things will go your way and that’s what we’ll be concentrating on to make sure we hit UQ as hard as we can right from the start.”
Clayfield: “I think that anyone who’s been involved in grand finals knows that that first five minutes is all adrenaline, and helter-skelter, it’s not until after those five minutes that things settle.
“It’s about which team can adjust and start playing their style of footy and I’m hopeful that will be us. We know we’re going to do all the hard stuff to make sure we compete, and I know I’ve got a team that’s going to work really hard both ways and hopefully set ourselves up to play some really attractive football.”
Who are the players to watch?
It was the fourth quarter surge that turned the tables for the Sharkies in their encounter against the Roos, Mansbridge full of praise for the youngsters in his side who fuelled the charge.
Mansbridge: “The really promising thing for us was a lot of the spark was provided by our younger players.
“Jas Davidson is the one really got us going right from the first centre clearance in that last quarter and her intensity around the footy and her tackling, along with her want and will to go after the football and after the opposition was great for a 19-year-old.
“Courtney Sexton – her goal got everyone up and about and off the back of that the intensity around the football and the want to be able to defend, went through the roof.”
After two weeks off, Clayfield says he’ll look to his Red Lions leadership group to lead the way on Sunday.
Clayfield: “Megan Hunt our captain has been amazing all year. She was the one who really saw the potential in this team from day one of the season when we were hoping to scratch a few wins and pull a competitive team together. She knows how far the team can go and Megs will continue to drive that and she’s got some really experienced people around her.
“Marnie McGorm – she’s the heart and soul of UQ – she understands what a critical moment in our history this is. Madi Crowley-Long as well, she’s been incredibly important in our footy club as a leader this year. And Bre Koenen coming back in – she’s such an impressive human being making sure everyone keeps their focus and she just knows when to say the right thing at the right time.
“There’s a really nice mix in the team between that youthful exuberance and the maturity of the experienced players we have.”
A sentiment shared by Mansbridge, who’ll not only look to his leaders to perform on the park, but the role they’ll play in the lead up to Sunday’s game.
Mansbridge: “It’s a grand final so nerves play a part for everyone. With a few of our girls now having been in the situation a couple of years ago of playing in a grand final, they know what’s going to happen around the whole day and what the expectations are.
“The day is different to the last few weeks, we’re together as a group from mid-morning when we get on the bus right through to the first bounce, so the nerves kick in a lot earlier.
“I’m hoping our leadership group having that experience will be able to calm those nerves, encourage the girls, talk to them about what to expect and to make sure they’re not going over the game too many times in their head on the bus ride up and really just to relax and enjoy the day and soak it up.”
Impacts of COVID/Lockdown
Both teams have been affected by the COVID-19 situation and the subsequent Queensland Government lockdown in South East Queensland, with the Grand Final postponed by a week.
Clayfield: “We can’t really hide from the fact that it’s been a weird week! But the last couple of years have been challenging so I’m confident we’ve got a really mature group that can be flexible and resilient and deal with this kind of week.
“We go into this game fit and healthy and we’re just really looking forward to the challenge.”
Mansbridge: “It’s not ideal but one of our key words for the whole year, and last year, is adaptability. So our girls have been doing their own thing and kept up their training whilst in lockdown. They’re all still focussed and ready.”
How to watch
The Bond University QAFLW and Development Grand Finals will be played at Yeronga South Brisbane Devils AFC, Cansdale St, Yeronga.
Development kick off: 12pm
Bond University QAFLW kick off: 2:15pm
Gates open at 10:30am. Entry price for adults is $10, kids under 16 are free.
The game will be live streamed at aflq.com.au/qalfw-live
And you can follow along all of the action on our official AFL Queensland and QAFL_QAFLW social media channels.
Bond v UQ 2021 Look Back (QAFLW RD 14)