The last spot in the Hastings Deering Colts grand final is up for grabs this weekend as the minor premiers Townsville Blackhawks use their second chance lifeline against the Northern Pride on Saturday afternoon (September 15) in Townsville.
The Blackhawks were defeated in a tight and hard-fought contest last weekend to the team awaiting the winner of this grand final qualifier, Norths Devils.
The Pride on the other hand, have knocked-off two of the more in-form teams in the competition in Souths Logan and Victoria over the past two weeks to come within one win of a grand final berth.
Northern Pride coach Dave Scott said the game would come down to handling the pressure.
“For us, it’s about trusting our style of football because it’s not the same as the Blackhawks and we can’t play the same way as them,” Scott said.
“They’ve had a couple of losses and the pressure is on them because they are the minor premiers and they don’t want to go out in straight sets.”
Despite last weekend’s loss to the Devils, Blackhawks coach David Tangata-Toa said there were positives to take out of the game ahead of this week’s clash with the Pride.
“Defensively we got our groove back,” he said.
“It was pretty hot conditions up here and was a pretty tight match, but defensively I was really happy with our efforts.
“With the ball, we need to be more clinical and there were moments where we had Norths under pressure but we just didn’t capitalise on it.
“Against the Pride, we need to defend with the same attitude and obviously with the ball, we need to be smarter with it.”
The last matchup between these two sides was back in Round 16 where the Blackhawks held on to a 12-4 victory, but the wet and muddy conditions during that contest didn’t allow for much side-to-side football to be played.
“The personnel for this game are probably very similar, but with the hot and dry conditions we’re expecting this week, there should be more footy played; whereas last game it was a bit of a bash-up because of the slippery conditions,” Tangata-Toa said.
Scott said there hasn’t been a lot separating these teams in their previous to bouts – they also drew in their Round 3 contest – but their make-ups are very different.
“There’s not much between us,” he said.
“They’re probably a better grinding side and we’re probably a little bit less refined, but we probably have more determination on D (defence) and there’s a bit more x-factor in our team where I encourage them to play football.
“I wouldn’t like to predict the outcome between us so I’m just looking forward to an intense game and the game itself as a spectacle.
“Hopefully we get a crowd down there to give it the occasion it deserves as a grand final qualifier for two historic rivals in far North Queensland.”