ONE round to go, the top five signed, sealed and delivered, but in what order will they go into the play-offs?
That is the burning question as the Pineapple Hotel Cup heads into a weekend where first and second on the ladder Western Magpies and Palm Beach-Currumbin is cut and dried but where positions three, four and five remain undecided.
At the moment, the top five reads: Western Magpies 56 points, Palm Beach-Currumbin 48, Noosa 40 (189.4 per cent), Wilston-Grange 40 (130.2) and Surfers Paradise 38 (141.4).
On Saturday Noosa host the Magpies in what should be a crackerjack clash at Weyba Road, although the Magpies cannot be knocked off top perch on the ladder.
PBC are playing Wilston-Grange at Sunline Oval and cannot be unseated from second.
After that, though, and it is a raffle. Here are the possibilities:
+ Noosa will finish third if they beat the Magpies, because of their percentage.
+ Noosa will finish fifth if they lose to the Magpies, Surfers beat Coolangatta and Wilston-Grange roll PBC.
+ The Grange will finish third if they beat PBC and Noosa and Surfers both lose. If only Noosa lose, the Grange will be fourth and get a home final. If they lose and Noosa and Surfers both win, the Grange will be fifth.
+ Surfers can finish third, fourth or fifth. They’ll be third if they beat Coolangatta, and Noosa and Wilston-Grange both lose. They’ll be fourth if Noosa win and the Grange lose. They’ll be fifth should Coolangatta spring a major upset.
THE pressure is on Wilston-Grange to grab a home elimination final when they host Palm Beach-Currumbin at Sunline Oval on Saturday.
Especially after the Gorillas have thrown away two very winnable games against genuine flag contenders this year, the most recent last weekend against Surfers Paradise.
As was the case when they lost to Western Magpies, the Gorillas blew a final-quarter lead against Surfers and this is an area skipper David Tough feels needs rectifying, and quickly.
If not, the Grange will be simply making up numbers for the finals.
Yet there appears to be a sense of urgency about the Gorillas this time around, knowing full well that a victory over the Lions could set them up for a home final.
At the selection table, the Gorillas lost Cale Agosta (hamstring) and omitted Fletcher McIvor and young Alex Ritchie.
They named a five-man interchange list after regaining Grayson McIvor, ironically in for his brother, Dylan Brooks, Daniel Campbell and Lachlan Moir.
PBC, unable to be unseated from second spot on the ladder, have just the one change, losing defender Matt Boyd (ankle) and replacing him with Blake Schneider.
Captain Darryl Dyson said beating the Grange by 48 points early in the season to tackling the same unit away is a totally different proposition.
“No way are we taking this game lightly, they’re a strong, physical team, so it’ll be a good hit-out before the finals,” Dyson said.
But he also agreed this was the ideal time to put to rest a view that the Lions do not have what it takes to match it physically with the better sides.
“Yes, our physicality has been questioned in a couple of games, but there have also been as many games where our physicality has been excellent,” he said.
SURFERS Paradise have three options if they are to finish third for the finals.
They play strugglers and wooden spooners Coolangatta at Len Peak Oval today knowing a win would put them either third or fourth for the finals.
The third option is a loss to the Blues and this is the one coach Beau Zorko is simply not entertaining.
“We need to roll into the finals with a full head of steam up and as much momentum as we possibly can,” Zorko said.
But it is fair to say that, should the Dees lose this one, they would not be game enough to show their faces at their Small Park headquarters after the game.
You never say a side cannot win, but it would be a miracle if the Blues could farewell coach Neil McKay, who has already announced he is heading overseas next year.
Yet, given the Demons have five changes, the Blues are not exactly without a sniff of victory.
Surfers are resting Sam Folan (knee) and Jake Ryan (general soreness) have Jake Tooma out with a groin strain and have Nick Barling and Chris Haddock with university studies.
The Demons brought in rugged Dan Green, centre half-back Rhys O’Brien, Drew Dunscombe, Clint Cassidy and 16-year-old first game Troy Clarke, no relation to the AFLQ’s development man and former Brisbane Bear of the same name.
Finals footy action has arrived week early at Weyba Rd this Saturday when reigning premier Noosa host premiership favourites Western Magpies.
Noosa, coming off the bye will be looking to turn their poor run of form around after two consecutive losses against Surfers Paradise and Sandgate.
More so, the Tigers will be aiming to recapture their scintillating form of last year that saw them take out the premiership heading into this years finals campaign.
A motivating factor for Noosa will be that a win will secure them an all-important double chance in the final series. A loss could see them battling it out in an elimination-final against either Surfers Paradise or Wilston Grange.
They will need to be at their almighty best if they are to topple the Magpies who have taken all before them this season.
Since their loss to Sandgate, the Tigers have been addressing numerous issues including “the player’s commitment” on the training track over the past few weeks.
“Our aim is to back at the top our game this week against the Magpies,” said Noosa Coach Wayne Fletcher.
Noosa welcome back, full back Jason Boydle however Bovalino, Trompf and Winter are still on the injury list.
The Magpies have all but sewn up the minor premiership after last week’s comfortable victory over Maroochydore.
However, despite the resounding score line the Magpies would be looking to rectify some issues that crept into their game last week as Peter McClennan lamented.
“We didn’t play all that well, our intensity fell away at times and we had a number of lapses in front of goal.”
The Magpies will regain Tim McEvoy, Nathanial Congoo and Will Fozzard who all were late withdrawals last week.
“We are looking forward to this clash against Noosa this week with the prospect of a full list to chose from which is just what you want leading into finals.”
The last time these two heavyweights clashed was in Round 7 with the Magpies running out 16-point victors.
Players to watch for the Magpies heading into finals action are Ed McDonnell, Ben Hefernan Roper, Alex Dickfos and Val Pope.
For the Tigers players to watch are Thomas Mckittrick, Caleb Isles, Adam Eady and Danny Brewster.
It will be a battle of pride that will define this weekend’s match between Maroochydore and Springwood when they clash at Fisherman’s road on Saturday.
Although both teams are out of the finals race, bragging rights and 8th spot on the premiership table are still very much up for grabs.
The Puma’s will look to provide premiership player & four-time club best and fairest Shane Murrihy with a fitting result when he runs out in 200th senior game for the club.
Last week both teams were largely depleted which proved costly in the end.
The Puma’s suffered an agonising 5-point defeat against Sandgate, with a lack of experience the marginal difference.
“I was a bit disappointed in the end we had numerous chances to put them away but our lack of experience and the occasional bit of panic cost us dearly.
“The young guys we have brought into the side have done us proud and will learn from these narrow defeats,” said Tony King of last week’s match.
However, he still positive about this upcoming clash, “We’re pretty much on level pegging with Maroochydore, so we have to learn from last couple of weeks and finish the season on a bright note.”
Meanwhile, a lack of depth was a contributing factor in the Roos loss to ladder leader the Magpies.
The Roo’s were gallant and very much in the game until half time before the toll of injuries proved too much against the classy Magpies outfit.
“Regardless of the circumstances, our aim to is win every game that we play and this week yet again is no different,” said Roo’s coach Roger Delaney.
The last time these two teams clashed was in Round 7 with the Roo’s prevailing 17.16.118 to 12.12.84.
For the Pumas Josh Mitchell was best last week whilst Nick Tronk, Shane Murrihy and Michael Grose all playing well.
For the Roos form players going into the match are Greg Stirton, Jarrod Raun, Madison Rogers and Jarrod Gale.
To wrap up a disappointing year for Burleigh, and a not-so-bad one for Mayne, the sides complete their 2012 season with a clash at Bill Godfrey Oval where only pride is at stake.
Mayne have not lost a game since the 7th July and will be looking to finish their best season in a number of years on a high note.
Burleigh on the other hand turned in an excellent performance against the Gorillas a fortnight ago only to be thrashed by the Lions last week. They will be looking to give their supporters something to cheer about in their last home game of the season.