By Ant Wingard @AntWingard
Bragging rights will be up for grabs in Queensland’s sugar capital this weekend as the best teams from two respective regions prepare to face off.
After tasting premiership success in their respective AFL Mackay and AFL Capricornia competitions last year, the Whitsunday Sea Eagles and Yeppoon Swans can add one more piece of silverware with a win in this Sunday’s Central Queensland Cup.
Over 300 kilometres separates them, but the two sides will converge on Mackay’s Great Barrier Reed Arena to compete for the trophy.
And while the two sides won a combined 29 wins last calendar year, Yeppoon coach Mark Wallin admits expectations remain unknown for the contest given each team’s knowledge of the other club.
“That probably keeps things a bit exciting because we don’t know what to expect. Hopefully they’ll be pretty competitive,” Wallin told aflq.com.au.
“We’ll be looking for a really good hit-out. I haven’t heard too much about them as of yet.”
The clash will be played as a curtain raiser to the Gold Coast SUNS’ JLT Community Series game against the Western Bulldogs.
Spectators can watch the Central Queensland Cup at 4:00pm by using their matchday ticket for the AFL preseason fixture.
The Swans topped the AFL Capricornia competition in 2018 by defeating Glemore to the tune of 56-points last September; in large thanks to a five-goal haul from league best and fairest Tom Cossens.
Like any hulking key forward, Cossens looms pivotal to the Swans’ chances in the Central Queensland Cup and after shedding around six kilograms in the offseason and compiling a full preseason, it’s scary to think what lies ahead for him after kicking 106 goals in 11 games last season.
Tom will once again pair with older brother Leigh, who finished runner up in the league best and fairest by a single vote in a new-look Swans line-up this weekend.
Eight players from last year’s premiership side are missing from this weekend’s game but the Swans have equally been bolstered by the return of Alex Chapman and West Australian import Trevor Johnstone, who will help reinforce the Swan’s key position stocks.
For the Sea Eagles, 2018 was as successful as they come. The team were undefeated throughout the entire year, winning 14 home and away games and two finals.
Their grandest moment was saved for the big stage, where they ran away as competition Premiers by a mammoth 83-points against the Eastern Swans.
That dominant Sea Eagles outfit has seen a large turnover of players for the clubs title defence in 2019 and the club will need to find some new synergy early to lift them in the Central Queensland Cup this weekend.
A win against the Yeppoon premiers on Sunday would largely come via the side’s stout defence and potent offence, who conceded the least points and scored the most of any team in the AFL Mackay competition.
Yeppoon coach Wallin said the opportunity to play in the Central Queensland Cup was a privilege, and something the Swans team definitely aren’t taking for granted.
“It’s another feather in the team’s cap really. Without winning a premiership, you don’t get the opportunity to play a game such as this so it’s a little bit of a reward that tops off a really good year last year,” he said.
“We’re really excited about the day and hopefully we put in a really good showing.”
The Central Queensland Cup will commence at TIME.
You can get tickets to watch the game here.